Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Time for Good News…

It is time for optimism as the pandemic begins to fade in the USA, reported a Washington Post article posted at 2:18 p.m. this afternoon. Today, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stated that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or outdoors. “Americans who are fully vaccinated can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups, federal officials said Thursday, paving the way for a full reopening of society.”

This is good news for those of you who have been vaccinated and want to return to your offices, go visit customers/suppliers or attend events like the SMU Steel Summit Conference (Aug. 23-25 in Atlanta).

I will have more to say about the reopening of American society and some of the lessons learned from the pandemic later in this article.

But first a warning from the AGC…

A warning from the Associated General Contractors today as they react to the high costs of lumber and steel and the impact it is having on the construction industry:

“Association officials said some of the supply chain problems have resulted from the pandemic or one-time events like the freeze in Texas last February that damaged plants producing inputs for construction plastics. But they added that federal policies, particularly tariffs and quotas on key building materials like lumber, steel and aluminum have exacerbated the price spikes, supply shortages, and delivery delays. They urged the administration to end those import obstacles and explore ways to help uncork supply-chain bottlenecks.

“The Biden administration must address these unprecedented lumber and steel costs and broader supply-chain woes or risk undermining the economic recovery,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Without tariff relief and other measures, vital construction projects will fall behind schedule or be canceled.”

Back to the Good News…

According to John Hopkins University (see map below) noted in an article from Axios, the number of new coronavirus cases is declining and is below 40,000 for the first time since September 2020. As you can see by the map below, there is not one state reporting increasing numbers and cases have declined in 37 of the 50 states. The report states that 107 million adults have been fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna. Almost half of the U.S. adult population has been fully vaccinated, and now the vaccine is being rolled out to those as young as 12 years old. The vaccinations are helping drive the number of new infections (and deaths) down, and the expectation is for this to continue throughout the summer.

coronavirus change data 5.13.2021

If you have not yet been vaccinated, I highly encourage you to do so. I’ve had mine, as have all of my immediate family, most if not all of the SMU employees, and many of the steel people I speak to on a regular basis. SMU is looking forward to late August when we will host our first in-person SMU Steel Summit Conference. Later this year, we hope to add live Steel 101 and hedging workshops to the list of in-person events.

As the United States increases the number of COVID-19 vaccinations and we move ever closer to heard immunity as a nation, we need to step back and think about the positives that came out of this pandemic as it relates to the way we live and conduct business.

We have figured out how to use Zoom, Microsoft Teams and similar programs to provide us the platform needed to interact with our teammates as well as our customers and suppliers. Sometimes the technology is quite innovative and fun, and sometimes it has just gotten tedious as we pine for direct human contact.

We have learned to work from home, and I expect many will opt to continue to do so after the “all clear” signal has been sent.

Most of us have accepted a bit of humility as we don masks to protect those around us (we are noticing how many people have beautiful eyes…).

For SMU and our CRU parent company, we have effectively discovered the advantages of using a digital platform for our workshops and conferences. As we come out of the pandemic, we will continue to use the technology to allow those who are unable to travel for whatever reason to be able to learn and interact using a hybrid.

Steel SummitSMU Steel Summit Registrations Top 400+ and Moving Higher…

Registrations for the 2021 SMU Steel Summit Conference continue to grow with the following companies adding attendees over the past few days: Exltube*, Grand Steel Products, Great Dane LLC, Lapham-Hickey Steel, Majestic Steel USA, NB Handy, Phillips Tube Group, Ryerson Holding Corporation, Sheffield Steel Products*, Southwark Metal, Steel Summit Holdings, Inc.*, ArcelorMittal*, Morrison Products* and Olympic Steel* (those companies with an * mean they are sending more than one person to the conference). You can join the hundreds of companies already registered by clicking here or you can learn more about our agenda, speakers, 2021 SMU NexGen Leadership Award, costs to attend and how to register by clicking here.

Keep each other safe by getting vaccinated to prevent COVID-19, for yourself and others who may be attending the conference.

I want to take a moment to credit Michael Cowden of the SMU staff for the hard work he has put into updating the Blast Furnace Status data we host for members on our website. I have gotten emails from our readers thanking us for the efforts we have put into keeping these statistics up to date. You can find this data by clicking here or once signed into the website, look under the Resources Tab then click on Steel Mills and finally Blast Furnaces.

I also want to acknowledge the tremendous job Paige Mayhair has been doing for Steel Market Update. Paige is responsible for renewals, upgrades and new sales for the newsletters. She has been very active setting sales records as our existing customers are renewing (in may cases upgrading to Premium), and she is bringing in a record number of new accounts. If you would like to renew, upgrade, add people to your existing membership or become a new subscriber to SMU, you can reach Paige at 724-720-1012 or

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

John Packard, President & CEO,

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