Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Memorial Day 2020

When you want to know where you are in life, look in your closet.

There it was, bulging at the seams yet ignored. The cloth bag is blood red. I looked up the color online and the closest match was Vallejo Game Air Bloody Red. It is suspended by a white draw string attached to a hook conveniently located next to my belts, just inside my closet door. The bag makes no secret for what it is intended as it has big bold red letters bordered in bright white “Superkleen.”

Clothes bag 5.26.2020The pudgy bag describes my sense of urgency as it has been hanging by that thread since I returned from San Antonio and the Fabricators and Manufacturers Annual Conference on March 5, 2020. Inside there are dress shirts and slacks wanting for a good cleaning and missing those sharp pleats and creases of professionally ironed shirts and trousers.

Nearby, neatly hung with clear plastic shoulder protectors are my sport coats and suits. Then my dress shirts and slacks. In racks there are rows of dress shoes. All gathering dust.

Today I use a couple of the drawers in my closet. One that holds my shorts, one for my T-shirts, one for socks and undergarments.

If I am to “dress up” it means golf shorts and a golf shirt. Dress for a typical “Zoom” webinar is a shirt with a collar. If I really want to smarten the look, I use one of my SMU logoed shirts.

I get daily emails from my “clothier” who wonders what has happened to me. Maybe a discount of 40 percent will create a fictitious need for a new suit or an expensive tie?

I do miss my “good” clothes. They have been a part of my life, my being, for decades and now they hang limp in a holding pattern – much like your worst flight over some God-forsaken airport with thunderstorms all about.

Does my closet feel familiar? Regalia oblivious to COVID-19, yet symbols of what we cannot partake.

We are like little boxes where we are neatly folded waiting for the day when we will be released, clean and pressed and ready for the world to begin again.

Today, May 26, 2020

The holiday weekend is behind us, and we are once again back to the grindstone.

Tomorrow we will host what will be an interesting and possibly controversial SMU Community Chat webinar. Barry Zekelman is Executive Chairman and CEO of Zekelman Industries. This $2.7 billion company is the largest independent pipe and tube manufacturer in North America and one of the largest buyers of flat rolled steel. Zekelman is well known to our SMU Steel Summit Conference audiences as he has a spirited streak and he is not afraid to say what is on his mind. Zekelman Industries is involved in a myriad of segments of the economy from construction to automotive, energy to “The Wall.” You can register for this 11 AM ET webinar by clicking here (and please tell your friends and co-workers). The webinar is free and open to anyone. If you are unable to use the link provided, you can always find the latest webinar registration on our website under the SMU Community Chat tab or by going to: 

We are conducting one of our flat rolled and plate steel market trend surveys this week. Results will be in the Thursday and Sunday newsletters. Our Premium members will have a PowerPoint presentation on Friday with much of the results placed into a historical context.

If you need information about how to renew, add more readers, upgrade to Premium or become a Steel Market Update subscriber, please contact Paige Mayhair at 724-720-1012 or by email: You can also reach out to Jill Waldman 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?