Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tonight’s issue will be the final one for this year. We will pick up publishing our newsletters again on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

John Packard Summit 18The first thing I want to do tonight is to thank every one of our members for their support over this past year. In light of the pandemic, I think we should be thanking you for your support over the past two years.

Due to your resilience, and ability to be flexible, Steel Market Update was able to pivot from live workshops and conferences to virtual without missing a beat.

In 2021, we were able to move our industry-leading SMU Steel Summit Conference from virtual to a hybrid format. We successfully had 853 executives participate in person in Atlanta and another 200 virtually. The 2021 conference was the second largest in our history, and thanks to you we managed to pull it off without having an outbreak of COVID amongst our attendees.

Now, we are dealing with a new strain of the virus (Omicron), which is more transmissible than the Delta variant we were dealing with in August. At the same time, we understand the Omicron version is mild compared to Delta, and those fully vaccinated and with boosters are well protected against getting any serious illness.

SMU is working on more live events in 2022, both conferences and workshops. We strive to help the industry return to “normal” in the safest ways possible. We understand there is a pent-up demand for personal contact, while at the same time there exists a need to do so responsibly. Again, I thank you for your support as we move the Tampa Steel Conference, Introduction to Steel Hedging, Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals, and the flagship SMU Steel Summit Conference to full live events. (In some cases, we will be hosting both live and virtual workshops at different times of the year to accommodate everyone interested in attending.)

The SMU team and I want to thank you for your continued support, which has allowed growth of the Steel Market Update newsletters and brand. I have heard comments on many occasions regarding the quality of the information we put into the marketplace. Our goal is to represent the gold standard for the dissemination of information and data into the flat rolled and plate segments of the industry. Thank you for recognizing our efforts.

Like the rest of the steel industry, 2021 was a strong growth year for SMU. Thank you.

This growth could not happen without the support of the SMU team. I want to take a moment and thank the incredible, hard-working team we have associated with Steel Market Update.

Brett Linton has been with me from almost the beginning of SMU. He was my first hire when he was still a student at North Georgia College. Brett continues to grow and is The Master of All Trades at SMU.

Tim Triplett is our Senior Editor and writer who manages the process of getting every issue organized and out on time. Tim works tirelessly every day to ensure we have quality information being sent out to each of you.

David Schollaert handles much of our Premium content and has been growing within the organization for a little over a year now. David is known for his positive attitude and his willingness to volunteer for whatever job needs to be done.

Michael Cowden joined SMU from Fastmarkets/AMM at the beginning of the year and has proven himself to be an exceptional journalist and student of the steel markets we cover.

As I continue to transition away from being a full-time employee of SMU, and to be more focused on events and special projects, Michael will become the face and voice of SMU. This is being done with my full support and encouragement.

Paige Mayhair handles sales for Steel Market Update. She has had a record year as we continue to grow, and I know she is anxious to speak with each of you in the coming year to make sure you receive the best products and services we have to offer.

Jill Waldman is the SMU events coordinator and works directly with the CRU Events Team in London. She is invaluable to me as I work not only on existing events but plans to expand our portfolio as 2022 unfolds.

I would also like to thank John Ball here in the United States and the entire CRU management team in London. There are too many CRU people to name here, but I want all the CRU teammates to know we have found their help invaluable over the past 12 months. I have been working with the CRU team for more than three years now, and I have found them to be supportive of our efforts and experts in their many fields, which complement those of SMU.

Most years we take our health and well-being for granted. Not this year….

It has been a long, trying year for everyone on the planet. When 2021 began we were hopeful the news coming from the drug companies was for the vaccines to put COVID-19 in our rearview mirrors. The vaccines have helped, at least for those who got them. This is a crafty virus and many, including a few on our staff, have developed break-through infections. The vaccines (and boosters) have prevented serious illness, and I continue to recommend everyone get vaccinated (with Pfizer or Moderna) and that you get the booster shot as well.

I lost several close friends and well-known business associates this year. I think of them often.

2021 has been a year for all of us to re-evaluate our priorities in life. Many of us continue to work from home with no plans to return to the office. The way business is being conducted is changing in record time. We have learned to adapt and accept change.

Michael Cowden wrote an exceptional “Final Thoughts” article on Tuesday about the value of indices, and the value of experience. I encourage you all to read (or re-read) the article. From the beginnings of SMU, I believed it was the combination of quality data and direct steel experience that were going to separate us from our competition. It is not just our experience we rely upon. We are working within the industry to gather information and data regarding your experiences as well.

2022 will undoubtably be another traumatic year for manufacturing and the steel industry. We will be watching demand, supply, imports, and many other factors that will impact steel prices and your business.

When I started Steel Market Update in August 2008, one of my former steel customers (and a good friend) told me he didn’t know what I was going to write about 30 days from that moment in time. Thirteen-plus years later his words still ring in my ears. On one hand he was right. How was I to know there would be market crashes, spikes in steel demand and supply, Section 232 tariffs, and a pandemic. There was no way in 2008 I could have predicted the number of new steel mills that are being built in the United States (and Mexico). I know this individual was looking short term and wondering what would keep me busy and involved. Indeed, I have been involved in, and I have witnessed, huge moves in the markets since I began working in the steel industry four decades ago. I have learned to appreciate the efforts of everyone involved – from the steel workers at the mills, their executive management, customers, suppliers, and across the supply chain. Truly a magical 44 years for me….

So, I want to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Take some time to enjoy your family and friends. Reflect on those who passed through your life and made it better. Forgive those who did not. Breath deep and relax because I don’t know what we will be writing about 30 days from now. I only know it will be truly magical.

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

John Packard


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