Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

I am going to spend some time discussing Steel Market Update this evening. I started SMU in August 2008 as a one-man show. The company has grown over the years both in size and scope. The sale of the company to CRU has turned out to be a blessing (I think for both companies), and the synergies that I thought were there have turned out to be greater than I could have imagined back in 2018 when the deal was consummated. I hope those of you who were originally concerned about the new ownership have come to realize what an excellent deal it has proven to be not only for me personally, but for our employees and our member companies (which is what we like to call our customers).

It has been close to three years since the sale to CRU was made, and I am still happily involved and working on the long-term transition of the company to the next generation of industry leaders who will continue to keep you informed about the flat rolled steel, steel plate, ferrous steel scrap, and potentially other markets.

John Packard Summit 18I enjoy working with my SMU team: Brett Linton (my first hire), Tim Triplett, Sandy Williams, David Schollaert, and Michael Cowden who compromise (along with myself) our writers/analysts. Supporting this team is Paige Mayhair who handles newsletter sales for SMU, and Jill Waldman who assists in the workshops and conferences for SMU here in the U.S. We also have a huge group of CRU-based analysts, consultants, industry experts and events team coordinators who help us create the magic (my opinion) that you read in our newsletters and see in our workshops and conferences.

We have built, and continue to build, an industry-leading publication, website, steel training workshops and the two premier steel conferences in North America: SMU Steel Summit Conference (Aug. 23-25, 2021) and Tampa Steel Conference (Feb. 14-16, 2022).

I hope you are beginning to recognize some of the changes that are being made to improve your Steel Market Update experience. There are the obvious things like adding David Schollaert and Michael Cowden to the SMU writing/analysis team, but we continue to make other moves to improve both our Executive and Premium level offerings.

We are working on our website to update content, and we are looking at potentially adding new content. We are spending more time on the blast furnace and EAF furnace status pages on our website. We added a calendar depicting price increase announcements from the domestic steel mills. We expanded the number of items we are providing to our Premium level subscribers from our surveys. I highly recommend you spend some time getting to know our website and the content that we have available to our Executive and Premium level members. If you need help with our website, please reach out to

We have been adding CRU analysis articles to our Executive and Premium level newsletters. With the expansion of our staff, we are expanding the number of articles we have in any issue as we work to provide more details and more in-depth articles about the marketplaces we are covering. We have added an aluminum segment in our Sunday issue for those of you who may be interested in that subject. We also anticipate expanding our scrap, pig iron and “clean steel” articles as the world changes around us.

Please feel free to recommend Steel Market Update to your customers, suppliers, toll processors or others within the industry you feel will benefit from the information we share with our readers. You are also welcomed to forward any of the marketing materials for our workshops and conferences to others within the industry you feel may enjoy the topics we are teaching or discussing. I believe everyone benefits from reading our newsletters, and I encourage you and your company to expand the number of people within your organization who can access our newsletter and interact with our website. I also encourage Executive level member companies to consider upgrading to our Premium level. If interested, Paige Mayhair can assist you: Paige can also help anyone interested in getting a free trial to our newsletters.

SMU MobileWe have been expanding the events section of Steel Market Update as it has always been one of my personal goals to be able to bring quality educational and informational programs to the industry. Programs that are conducted by high-quality informed instructors who avail themselves to the attendees even after the course has concluded. Our list of workshops continues to grow, and I am working on a new one to be launched later this spring for companies interested in a deeper dive into mill costing (domestic and global) and what impact the move toward a carbon-free environment will have on manufacturing and the steel industry.

In the meantime, we have the following workshops for you to choose from:

Steel Hedging 101: Introduction to Managing Price Risk – March 30 & 31 (half day each) – This workshop is for those new to hedging or who are interested in learning more about how to manage steel price risk. The instructor is Spencer Johnson of StoneX along with the CME Group and Estelle Tran from CRU. Click here for details.

Galvanized Steel Hedging – April 21 (half day) – This is for those interested in hedging cold rolled and galvanized steels. This is one of our least expensive workshops. This will be the first time we conduct this workshop. Spencer Johnson of StoneX is our instructor, and we will have experts from CME Group and CRU participating as well. Click here for more details.

Steel Hedging 201: Advanced Strategies & Execution – May 5 & 6 (half day each day) — This workshop is for those who have some experience or who have been through our Steel Hedging 101 workshop and are interested in learning more about identifying risks at your company and how to best manage them. Our instructor is Spencer Johnson of StoneX, the CME Group and CRU along with a guest who is an active participant in the market. Click here for more details.

Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals – May 11-12 (two full days) — Now in our 10th year, this popular workshop is meant for those new to the industry, those who are moving from one position to another within your company, those executives who are joining from outside the industry and those executives who would just like a refresher course on steel making, qualities, rolling processes, how steel is priced and sold and some of the issues affecting pricing. This workshop has two metallurgists in Roger Walburn (NLMK) and Chuck McDaniel (former Bethlehem) along with OEM buying expertise from Mario Briccetti (Metal Sales/Gibraltar Strip/Nordyne) and John Packard (31 years of sales/buying experience in service center, steel mill and trading companies along with 11+ years writing about the industry). Click here for more details.

I mentioned the two industry leading steel conferences we host:

Steel SummitSMU Steel Summit Conference – Aug. 23-25, 2021 – in person at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta adjacent to the Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – This promises to be the first major in-person steel conference to be held since the pandemic hit one year ago. We will have an exceptional line-up of speakers, which includes Lourenco Goncalves of Cleveland-Cliffs, Leon Topalian of Nucor, Mark Millett of SDI, Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics, Timna Tanners of Bank of America, Phil Bell of the Steel Manufacturers Association, Josh Spoores of CRU, Michael Smerconish of CNN/Sirius XM and many more. We have already exceeded 200+ registrations and we are on pace to break our 2019 record for a live steel conference in North America. Over the past few days, the following companies have registered (those with an * means they registered more than one person): AK Steel Holding Company*, American Metals Supply Co., Inc.*. Blackhawk Steel*, Bradford White*, Cleveland-Cliffs* and Paragon Steel. You can find more details on the 2021 conference by clicking here.

Tampa Steel Conference – Feb. 14-16, 2022 – We anticipate this will become the second largest and most unique steel conference in North America as SMU works with Port Tampa Bay to conduct the 33rd Tampa Steel Conference. Unlike the SMU Steel Summit Conference, this one will Tampa.Steel.Conferenceinclude one full day of speakers and presentations, and one day of workshops on various topics – including not only transportation, steel products and futures but also ports, warehousing and toll processing. We will also have special social events such as a golf tournament, port tours and special networking receptions (2). You can learn more about the event by clicking here.

As you may also have noticed, we have brought back the SMU Community Chat Webinars as a way of building interaction between SMU and those who relate to us, the products we cover and our speakers. We intend to continue to conduct these webinars every other week (next one is Wednesday, March 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET with Ryan Smith of CRU who is based in Australia). We intend to probe a wide range of topics with speakers you may recognize (like economist Ken Simonson of AGC who will join us on March 31 at 11 a.m. ET) and some like Ryan Smith who may be new to you. The SMU Community Chat Webinars are free to you, to your employees, suppliers/customers and anyone who is interested in learning about the industry we support. You can register for the March 17 webinar by clicking here. To see recordings of past webinars, please go to the SMU Community Chat tab on the home page of the website.

I apologize for being long-winded this evening, but there is much to cover, and I want to make sure our members are aware of everything we are doing as we strive to be the best information provider possible to you and your company. This includes interacting with members of our team I mentioned above. To reach any of them, just use their first We want to assist you as you strive to meet your company’s goals.

An example came across my email earlier this week when the vice president of construction for a residential manufacturing company approached us using our email. He wanted to understand how he could best use our product (website in particular) as he was trying to understand costs for steel studs, appliances and other products used in construction. Brett Linton was the first to respond by involving both myself and Michael Cowden in the conversation. Over the course of the next two days, we schooled the gentleman on our galvanized steel index, we discussed zinc costs and where he could best get information about that (which was outside of SMU’s website). We showed him where the zinc coating extras are within our website, where our price momentum indicator is located and how it is used in our newsletter every Tuesday when we come out with our indices for the week, etc. To be honest, I don’t even know if the company he represents is one of our customers (although I expect if not, he soon will be).

Steel Market Update is dedicated to building a strong community, and we don’t discriminate against those who have chosen (over the short term) to read our competition (or nothing at all). I believe it is natural for people to like doing business with those who make their lives easier.

I believe I speak for Brett, Sandy, Tim, David, Michael, Paige, and Jill along with our instructors: Mario Briccetti, Roger Walburn, Chuck McDaniels and Spencer Johnson. We all enjoy working with you.

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

John Packard, President & CEO,

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