Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Four days to go…

This will be our 10th SMU Steel Summit Conference. Over those 10 years the SMU team (and now CRU team) has built the most successful steel conference outside of mainland China. This year’s conference will be either the second or third most attended event we have had since the beginning. I don’t think we will equal the 1,108 attendees we had in 2019, but we will be a long way away from the 110 we had in Las Vegas during our first conference.

As I sit here on Thursday, Aug. 20, we have exceeded the goal I had put out there for the team. I believed we could reach and then pass through 800 registered executives from manufacturing, distribution, steel mills, trading companies, toll processors, transportation companies, banks, and analysts as well as other companies who support those industries.

By Monday I expect we will be around 825-850 registered attendees…more if you tell your friends or if you decide to register yourself. You can learn more about registering by clicking here or going to

As you look through our attendee list, which is published on the platform, the companies represented are a who’s who for the industry: Nucor, U.S. Steel, Big River Steel, Ternium, Steel Dynamics, California Steel, USS/POSCO, North Star BlueScope, NLMK USA, SSAB, Wheeling-Nippon Steel, ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Stelco, Algoma, etc.

The same goes for service centers, trading companies and end users. The SMU Steel Summit Conference is THE place to be, and to be seen – even virtually.

We opened the platform on Wednesday morning. I have been wandering around like everyone else. If you were on the platform, you may have gotten a chat request from me welcoming you, and letting you know we are here to assist in making this conference a memorable experience.

If you have not taken the time to go onto the platform, I highly recommend you do so ASAP. One of the first things you will want to do is edit your profile. You will want to add a photo of yourself, a short biography of you and your company, and you will especially want to provide your “interests,” which may include the kind of steel you use or sell, and what you are interested in (processing, legal advice, consulting, etc.). Those interests become keywords which can be searched on the site. So, if you are interested in “steel plate,” for example, you will be able to search for others who are also interested in steel plate.

Your profile is public to others on the platform. The more information you share, the more you will get out of the networking experience.


The platform was built for networking. Watch the “how to” videos under the Resource tab. We recommend that you start with an email or chat requests from those you do not know but would like to meet. From there you can move up to scheduling an appointment or a live video chat.

You will know when people are live on the site as there will be a green dot next to their photo. When they are online, you will also know where they are within the platform (lobby, auditorium, resources, exhibition area, etc.). This is easy to do either by clicking on the “Who’s Online” tab or the “Attendees” tab.

We will have a special “speed networking” event at 4 p.m. ET on Monday sponsored by Heidtman Steel. What is speed networking, I hear you ask? At 4 p.m. we will welcome those of you who are adventurous and would like to meet new people into a Zoom room. Then we will randomly move those attending into 50 different rooms to meet and greet as many attendees as possible. We anticipate over the next hour you will be moved into four different chat rooms. There will be no excuse for not meeting a few new people whom you can carry on conversations with later, on or off the platform. I will be bouncing around from room to room to assist in the process.

Agenda & On-Demand

Your agenda is in the lobby on the left-hand side of your screen. If you schedule an appointment through the platform, it will show up on your schedule. This is visible only to you as everyone’s schedule is unique.

You can access both live and on-demand recordings in the auditorium. You will also find notes about the speakers, the program or any presentation slides. You will also find videos, presentations, brochures, etc., under the Resources tab.

We will have a combination of recorded and live segments. Once a segment has gone live and been completed, it will then move into the “on-demand” area in the auditorium.

All Q&As (questions and answers) will be done live, as will a few segments, including the final segment of the conference. You will get to see a lot of me (sorry) as I interact with speakers, moderate panels, and handle much of the Q&A from a studio we have built here in my home in Florida.

It is Thursday evening and I have just finished recording Ryan Smith’s presentation on cost competitiveness and decarbonization for the U.S. steel mills. He is an interesting speaker, and if you missed him last year you will want to hear him this year. You might become a champion of the greening of the industry after you hear him speak….

Many of you who registered early will be receiving boxes this week to help you prepare for the conference. A special thank you to Reibus and other sponsors who helped put this package together to promote our event.

Oh, did I mention there is a tropical storm that could be a hurricane aimed at southern Florida. ETA = Monday…

Enjoy the show.

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?