Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

“You don’t want to waste a good crisis” (also seen as, “Never waste a serious crisis”).

“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” Dave Hollis

Just about every business in North America, if not around the world, is dealing with the coronavirus and the challenges it is posing for their organization. Decisions are being made tied to the financial viability of the company. Good organizations are looking at the crisis as an opportunity to deal with tough issues (job classifications/responsibilities/staffing, workspace and working conditions and many more). They also are looking at the crisis as an opportunity for their company to take market share or improve their brand.

At Steel Market Update, we are examining each of our products as we look to expand/improve coverage. We are working on new upgrades to our Premium newsletter as we work hand in hand with our parent company, The CRU Group. CRU has a wide array of economists and analysts around the world, who will share their expertise with our Premium customers. We are reviewing existing content and will be going out to our Premium members to see what they like/don’t like about the newsletter, and what they recommend we do to improve the overall SMU experience. Premium members will be receiving a survey in your inbox yet this week.

Steel SummitThe events side of our business has been hit hard by COVID-19. No one is flocking to rub shoulders with scores of people right now. Companies are restricting travel for their employees. Yet, the need for training, market intelligence, economic forecasts and networking still exists.

Oddly (or not), the SMU Steel Summit Conference continues to add sponsors. We have not yet cancelled the conference, and there are close to 300 registered to attend as I sit here today. We are watching the State of Georgia (which is re-opening its economy, including restaurants, in the next few days), doctors at the Centers for Disease Control, and we are listening to our customers, to see if people are going to want to travel to Atlanta on Aug. 24-26. As of a week ago, we were getting mixed messages, but it is still too early to call. I anticipate we will make a final decision by June 1.

If we do hold a “live” on-site conference, it will be different than in the past. We will restrict the number of people who can attend so we can maintain social distancing guidelines. We will also have policies in place to keep the building as safe as possible, and recommendations for appropriate networking (bowing may be preferable to shaking hands?).

We are also busy working on our Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals workshop. The instructors are producing a new workbook, which is part of the course.

We are also considering an online version of our conference and our workshops. The next few weeks will be interesting.

As I mentioned in my Letter to our Customers, your business is important to everyone at Steel Market Update. We understand that your company needs to be successful, and part of our job is to provide quality content to assist in that process.

If it is time for you to renew, or if you would like to upgrade your account by adding more people or moving to our Premium product, please contact Paige Mayhair at 724-720-1012 or by email at

As always, your business is truly appreciated by all of us here at Steel Market Update.

John Packard, President & CEO

Latest in Final Thoughts

Final thoughts

I’ve had discussions with some of you lately about where and when sheet prices might bottom. Some of you say that hot-rolled (HR) coil prices won’t fall below $800 per short ton (st). Others tell me that bigger buyers aren’t interested unless they can get something that starts with a six. Obviously a lot depends on whether we're talking 50 tons or 50,000 tons. I've even gotten some guff about how the drop in US prices is happening only because we’re talking about it happening.

Final thoughts

We’ve all heard a lot about mill “discipline” following a wave of consolidation over the last few years. That discipline is often evident when prices are rising, less so when they are falling. I remember hearing earlier this year that mills weren’t going to let hot-rolled (HR) coil prices fall below $1,000 per short ton (st). Then not below $900/st. Now, some of you tell me that HR prices in the mid/high-$800s are the “1-800 price” – widely available to regular spot buyers. So what comes next, and will mills “hold the line” in the $800s?