Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

This past week I unexpectantly lost someone I called a friend within the steel industry. I learned late last week that Keith Gunter, Vice President of Purchasing for McElroy Metals, lost his brief battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.

Keith was one of the purchasing people I trusted to challenge me, and to provide me with insights into the industry that I could not get elsewhere. He was a student of the industry, and from my perspective one of the best purchasing managers that I knew out there.

We did not always agree, but you knew where you stood with Keith.

He will be missed by his family, friends, and all the folks at McElroy Metals. I will miss him as well.

Keith wrote a Christmas poem about the industry each year, which we published in the SMU newsletter. I looked at last year’s (2019) poem, which was published sometime in late November. The last couple of stanzas stuck with me:

Next year will be interesting with upcoming presidential election,

There is a lot to consider as we make our selection.

Leading up to this we should move forward with decisions,

And not wait for the outcome to influence our vision.

One thing is for sure, our industry will continue to be strong,

There are always ups and downs and challenges to come along.

The future for steel still looks to be bright,

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.

Rest in peace my friend.

FJohn Packard Summit 18or me, work on the 2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference continues as the pace quickens on the many projects needing to be completed before Aug. 24. There are now eight full weeks to go before the kick-off of the conference.

We are now at 300+ registered attendees and counting. Unlike a live event, the amount of planning needed to attend is minimal (as in none). If you do not want to network, and are only interested in viewing the keynote addresses, roundtable discussions, mill insights, economic views and other topics of interest, you can register at any point during the conference and be able to view the program on an “on-demand” basis.

If networking is important, than you will want to be registered a week prior to the event as we will begin allowing access to the platform prior to our Aug. 24 kickoff. This is so attendees can complete their profiles, search the attendee list, review the program, familiarize themselves with the platform, and work on their schedules.

What does that mean, work on your schedules?

We understand there are going to be distractions and time needed to accomplish non-conference-related tasks. To help you stay organized, we have built into our SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference platform the ability for you to sync your conference agenda and networking functions with your work calendar.

For example, when you enter the virtual conference platform you will find a listing of the attendees. This list will be searchable by name, company and title. If there is someone you wish to interact with, you will have the ability to ask for an appointment to chat via Instant Messenger or have a video chat. This can be done on a one-on-one basis or you can invite a group of people to interact with you and other attendees you select. Once confirmed, the time selected can be saved to your work calendar (such as Outlook, Google, etc.).

This ability to reach out to network with existing clients/suppliers or potential new ones exists throughout the platform – in the auditorium where presentations will be held, in the networking lounge, in the exhibition area or the lobby.

Steel SummitYou will also be able to confirm various programs that you do not want to miss, which can then be saved to your work calendar.

We also intend to provide some “on-demand” content early to assist you in familiarizing yourself with the platform.

We will have webinars and much more training to ensure your virtual conference experience meets or exceeds your expectations.

As with any SMU event, member companies (subscribers) receive discounts ($50) off the full ticket price. We also offer discounts to any company that registers more than one attendee ($50). If you were to use both discounts, the per person cost drops from $450 to $350 per person.

If you would like to learn more, you can click here.

If you would like to register, you can do so by clicking here.

Also, please submit your nominations for this year’s SMU NexGen Leadership Award. You can find more details on our website by clicking here.

I am available to answer any questions you might have. You can speak to me directly by phone: 770-596-6268 or by email:

website laptopOn Wednesday of this week (July 1 at 11 AM ET) Eddie Lehner, President & CEO of Ryerson, will be our guest speaker as we conduct one of our SMU Community Chat webinars. Ryerson is a metals processor and distributor with more than 100 locations in North America and around the world. They service almost every conceivable market segment, and therefore have insights into how those segments are reacting to the pandemic, and what a return to “normal” may look like. Please join us for this free webinar and invite your industry friends. You can register by clicking here or going to

If you are new to Steel Market Update, we encourage you to subscribe to one of our services: Executive or Premium. We have multiple plans for companies to provide our newsletters and access to our websites to as many of your employees as you desire. We encourage readership at all levels of your organization. You can learn more about becoming a new member, or if you are an existing member how you can renew, upgrade or add more people to your existing membership, by contacting Paige Mayhair at 724-720-1012 or by email:

A note about our publishing schedule for this week. The Fourth of July Holiday is this weekend. SMU will not publish a newsletter on Thursday (July 2) or Sunday (July 5) in celebration of the Fourth of July.

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?