Steel Products

Final SMU Steel Summit Conference Agenda

Written by John Packard

It has been almost 12 months in the making and, due to the pandemic, one of the most carefully crafted agendas ever presented for an SMU Steel Summit Conference. Here is the final agenda for this year’s “virtual” conference. All times referenced are Eastern Time. The programs on the agenda prior to 10:00 AM are pre-Summit programs or special programs, which will also be available on demand. The platform opens on Wednesday, Aug. 19, for those who are registered. We will host a free webinar for anyone who is interested (but highly recommended for those who are registered) tomorrow at 11 AM ET. You can register for this free look at the “live” platform by clicking here or going to

2020 SMU Virtual Steel Summit Conference

“Rising from the Ashes”


Day 1 – Monday, August 25, 2020

Platform will open at 8:00 AM ET.

9:00 AM – Steel 101 Training “Sneak Peek”

We have an introductory “sneak peek” into the Steel 101 training classes held by Steel Market Update.  Included is a brief overview of the class, including what topics are covered and what kinds of class participants we have served in the past.  Also included is an example of course content:  a short lesson on the difference between grades, designations and specifications and how they overlap.  These points are emphasized through a demonstration using paperclips, showcasing how these distinctions are important and necessary to understand, so that steel’s performance properties can be well matched to a given application.

  • Roger Walburn, Metallurgist & Sales at NLMK USA and Steel 101 Instructor for SMU

9:30 AM – Impact Stimulus Spending Will Have Long Term for USA

This is a short “vignette” from one of our most popular speakers. Dr. Beaulieu will discuss how the stimulus spending will impact the U.S. economy. On Tuesday, Dr. Beaulieu will present his full market forecast.

  • Dr. Alan Beaulieu, Managing Director, ITR Economics

9:45 AM – Explore Platform

10:00 AM – Opening of Conference – Rising from the Ashes

  • John Packard – President & CEO, Steel Market Update

10:15 AM – One-on-One with Maximo Vedoya, CEO, Ternium

We will open with a short discussion about Ternium, the Latin American steel industry and Mexico. This will be a one-on-one between Maximo Vedoya, CEO of Ternium, and John Packard, CEO of Steel Market Update.

  • Maximo Vedoya, CEO, Ternium
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

10:30 AM – International View of Steel Industry

Two industry experts will discuss China, Turkey and the Middle East. How have these regions fared with the pandemic and what does the future hold for steel and trade?

  • Jose Gasca – Managing Director, Metrading International AG
  • John Johnson, CEO, CRU China
  • Moderated by John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

11:00 AM – Questions and Answers

11:15 AM – Break & Networking

11:30 AM – CRU World & North American Economic & Steel Forecast and Scenarios

This keynote panel from CRU discusses expectations for global, Chinese and U.S. economies in the future, and crucially what that implies for future steel demand and prices. It examines economic growth scenarios, and corresponding steel demand scenarios with an analysis of both down and upside risks. The panel includes a blend of an economist, regional market specialists, plus a view direct from CRU’s Beijing research office.

  • Chris Houlden, Finished Steel Business Unit Head, Head of Prices Development, CRU
  • Ippolito Tarabini, Economist, CRU
  • James Campbell, Principal Analyst, Steel, CRU
  • Ryan McKinley, Senior Analyst, Steel, CRU
  • Thais Terzian, Senior Analyst, Steel, CRU

12:00 PM Question & Answers

12:15 PM – Break & Networking

1:00 PM – Keynote Address – Lourenco Goncalves, Chairman, President & CEO, Cleveland-Cliffs/AK Steel

The Cleveland-Cliffs purchase of AK Steel was completed just as the pandemic hit. How optimistic is Mr. Goncalves on the future of AK Steel? How will the marriage of Cleveland-Cliffs as a metallics supplier and AK Steel as an automotive-focused steel mill change the direction of the two companies?

  • Lourenco Goncalves, Chairman, President & CEO, Cleveland-Cliffs/AK Steel
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

1:30 PM – Questions and Answers

1:45 PM – Break

2:00 PM – Steel Buyers Panel – Roundtable: View from the Buy Side

We gathered three dissimilar flat rolled steel buyers to discuss how they deal with market cycles, pandemics and unstable markets while trying to achieve company cost goals and supporting their customers’ needs.

  • Tom Valvo, President, Global Residential, MiTek
  • Frank Ruane, Executive Vice President, Olympic Steel
  • Steve Sukup, President & CEO, Sukup Manufacturing
  • Moderator: John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

2:30 PM – Questions and Answers

2:45 PM – Industry Polling

We will once again canvass our attendees as we try to better understand everything from how the pandemic has affected their businesses to who they believe will win the 2020 presidential election (side note: our 2016 conference poll correctly predicted a Trump win).

  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

3:00 PM – Break

3:15 PM – Trade Panel

If there is anything that is consistent with every steel conference, it’s the importance of understanding the ever-evolving trade situation here in the United States. Trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz, along with Steel Manufacturers Association President Philip Bell, will discuss the latest moves by the Trump administration to change the antidumping and countervailing duty rules, along with the status of litigation affecting the Section 232 tariffs.

  • Philip Bell, President, Steel Manufacturers Association
  • Lewis Leibowitz, Principal, Offices of Lewis E. Leibowitz
  • Moderator: John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

3:45 PM – Questions and Answers

4:00 PM – Virtual Cocktail Party and Speed Networking

5:00 PM – End of Day 1


Day 2 – Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Platform Opens at 8 AM ET.

9:00 AM – Crowe Pre-Summit Presentation: Two Years of Digital Transformation in Two Months: How the Steel Industry is Prioritizing Technology in the Midst of a Pandemic.

While COVID-19 has caused massive upheaval to businesses across the globe, it has emphasized the importance of technology for many companies. Join this session to review specific examples of how steel companies are putting technology to work in their favor and building resiliency. We’ll be sharing insights from this year’s Technology in Metals survey, as well as the Industry 4.0 survey findings from MPI.

  • Ali Askut, Worldwide Sales Director for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain & Manufacturing, Microsoft
  • Caitlin Nelson, Innovative Lead of Manufacturing & Distribution, Crowe
  • John Brandt, CEO, MPI Group
  • Moderator: Tony Barnes, Sales Leader for Metals & Manufacturing, Crowe

9:45 AM – Questions and Answers

10:00 AM – Conference Opens – Polling Results from Monday

We will provide the results from the polls taken during day one of the conference. This will include information about how companies are faring as we work through this pandemic. Also, what demand looks like and who our attendees believe will win the presidential election in November.

  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

10:15 AM – Keynote: Dr. Alan Beaulieu, Managing Director, ITR Economics – We Will Survive & Prosper – Economic Forecast

11:00 AM – Break & Networking

11:15 AM – Vignette – Leon Topalian, President & CEO, Nucor Steel

Our first chance to chat with Leon Topalian, the President & CEO of Nucor Steel. Mr. Topalian became Nucor’s top executive on January 1, 2020, and has had an interesting run having to deal with a pandemic just a few months into his tenure.

  • Leon Topalian, President & CEO, Nucor Steel
  • One-on-One with John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

11:30 AM – Industry Forecasts – Automotive, Construction, Pipe & Tube/Energy

We have three experts on construction, automotive and energy providing color about each of these markets and forecasts for what 2021 holds for each.

  • Ken Simonson, Chief Economist, Associated General Contractors
  • Stephen Brown, Senior Director Corporate Ratings, Fitch Ratings
  • Rick Preckel, Partner, Preston Pipe
  • Moderator: Tim Triplett, Senior Editor, Steel Market Update

12:00 PM – Questions and Answers

12:15 PM – Break & Networking

1:15 PM – Fireside Chat – One-on-One with David Burritt, President & CEO, U.S. Steel

This is the first time a U.S. Steel CEO has spoken to one of our conferences. Mr. Burritt goes one-on-one with SMU CEO John Packard as they discuss the “Best of Both” strategy U.S. Steel has implemented with the joint venture with Big River Steel and many other capital-intensive projects aimed at providing high-end products at competitive prices for their customers.

  • David Burritt, President & CEO, U.S. Steel
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

2:00 PM – U.S. Cost Dynamics and Decarbonization

CRU Steel Analyst Ryan Smith will discuss how the U.S. cost curve has evolved in 2020, the implications for prices, the outlook for U.S. competitiveness and what opportunities a global move towards industry decarbonization means for the U.S.

  • Ryan Smith, Steel Analyst, CRU

2:30 PM – Questions and Answers

2:45 PM – Break

3:00 PM – Flat Rolled Capacity Utilization in a Post COVID-19 World

Paul Lowrey’s analysis indicates there could well be a shortage of hot strip mill capacity in the coming years. What would this mean for steel prices?

  • Paul Lowrey, Managing Director, Steel Research Associates
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

3:20 PM – Questions and Answers

3:30 PM – Jeff Butler – Keynote: Building an Effective Multi-Generational Workplace

A presentation on what companies need to do to manage and retain workers from different generations. Jeff Butler is the author of two books: The Authentic Workplace and The Key to The New You. He is a professional speaker and workplace strategist.

  • Jeff Butler, Owner, JButler International

4:15 PM – Questions and Answers

4:30 PM End of Day 2


Day 3 – Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Platform Opens at 8:00 AM ET

9:00 AM – Special Pre-Summit Program on Futures Trading with the CME

At CME’s Steel Hedging Workshop, you will hear from panelists with many years of experience in the steel and risk management industries. The workshop will include an introduction to CME’s newest and most liquid steel futures contracts, how to get set up to trade, as well as multiple examples of how industry participants from along the supply chain are utilizing steel futures to manage steel price risk.

  • Sean Kessler, Director, Metals Products, CME Group
  • Spencer Johnson, Ferrous Trading Manager, StoneX
  • Karl Schmidt, Trader, Hartree Partners
  • Phil Killcoat, Steel Trader, Goldman Sachs
  • Moderator: Phillip Price, Director, Price Consult

9:45 AM – Questions and Answers

10:00 AM – Opening – SMU Proprietary Products – Service Center Inventories/Shipments, Pricing and More

Steel Market Update produces many proprietary products. We will discuss our service center inventories and shipments data with Estelle Tran, who is a steel analyst at CRU working closing with SMU. SMU CEO John Packard will also discuss Sentiment, Service Center Spot and other indices produced by SMU.

  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update
  • Estelle Tran, Steel Analyst, CRU

10:30 AM – Fireside Chat with Mark Millett, President & CEO, Steel Dynamics

The CEO of Steel Dynamics sits down with SMU CEO John Packard in a wide-ranging discussion about the steel industry, SDI’s new Texas facility, future supply concerns, steel costs and what to expect for the industry in the years to come.

  • Mark Millett, President & CEO, Steel Dynamics
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

11:00 AM – Questions and Answers

11:15 AM – Break & Networking

11:30 PM – Steel Price Forecasting Round Table

Three analysts coming from different viewpoints will present their steel forecast for the balance of 2020 and into 2021. This program has always been one of the highlights of any SMU Steel Summit Conference.

  • Timna Tanners, Metals & Mining Analyst, Bank of America
  • John Anton, Associate Director, Steel Analytics, Pricing & Purchasing, IHS Markit
  • Josh Spoores, Principal Analyst, Steel, CRU

12:00 PM – Questions and Answers

12:15 PM – David Stickler, CEO Big River Steel One-on-One with John Packard

David Stickler and John Packard sit down to discuss the Big River Steel expansion, electrical steels, the new Brownsville, Texas, steel mill and the joint venture with U.S. Steel. This will be a frank and informative session jam packed with information for the industry to chew on.

  • David Stickler, CEO, Big River Steel
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

12:30 PM – Questions and Answers

12:45 PM – Break & Networking

1:15 PM – NexGen Leadership Award

We had 24 nominations for this our second SMU NexGen Leadership Award. This award recognizes young people (35 years old or younger) within the flat rolled and plate steel industries who stand out from their peers. Nominees display excellence, innovation, leadership and are considered “rising stars” within their company. Last year’s winner was Meredith Meade of Temple Steel Company.

  • Phil Bell, President, Steel Manufacturers Association
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

1:30 PM – Keynote: Go from A Leader to THE Leader with Ryan Avery

The youngest winner of the prestigous Toastmaster Award for speaking, Ryan Avery will help your company and your employees to become THE Leaders you aspire them to be.

  • Ryan Avery, THE Keynote Speaker, Avery Today, Inc.

2:30 PM – Multi-Generational Workplace in Practice

Majestic Steel and Big Ass Fans are two companies known for attracting and retaining bright young talent. How do they do it?

  • Todd Leebow, President & CEO, Majestic Steel
  • Jim Vincent, Senior Director of Sales, Big Ass Fans

3:00 PM – What College Graduates Are Expecting from the Companies They Join

The new generation of college students have different expectations than those who came before. David Everett talks one-on-one with SMU CEO John Packard about what companies should be thinking about as they search for new talent.

  • David Everett – Associate Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, Hamline University
  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

3:30 PM – 2020 Presidential and Congressional Election

It is a presidential election year and both the presidency and the Senate are up for grabs (he considers the House of Representatives as safely in the hands of the Democrats). Professor Schultz provides food for thought as he explains how the electorate has evolved since 1980 to today. He will outline what states will make the difference in this year’s election – in some cases right down to the counties that will determine how a state will vote. You will want to download his presentation notes and follow along.  Dr. Schultz has written 30 books on elections and election ethics and is a well-known expert on the subject.

  • Dr. David Schultz, Professor, Political Science & Legal Studies, Hamline University

4:00 PM – Final Round Table – The Phoenix Rises

Where will the industry be in three years? What surprises came out of this year’s conference? SMU President & CEO John Packard has invited two of his mentors to discuss the industry from both a U.S. and a world perspective. Michael Setterdahl will join us live from Dubai and Tom Cullen from New Jersey as we try to prepare for what the future holds for those of us in the steel industry. Packard worked for Tom Cullen when he was president of the trading company Duferco Steel Inc. Setterdahl owned another trading company called Novosteel, which was acquired by Harris Steel (and Harris was acquired by Nucor just prior to the Steel Market Update startup).

  • John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update
  • Michael Setterdahl, Global Advisory Board, GFG Alliance
  • Tom Cullen, President & CEO, Magic Coil Products

4:30 PM – Conference Closes

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