Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Written by John Packard

Being at a Crossroad.

Where would you be if you had not stood at a crossroad, that point in your history when a decision you made dramatically impacted your future?

We are at the end of the collegiate school year for most universities across the United States. Each of the students graduating has reached a crossroad in their lives.

Last week I attended a Hamline University Board of Trustees meeting and the undergraduate commencement ceremonies for the Hamline Class of 2022.

John Packard Summit 18During the invocation prior to the board meeting, the minister spoke about “being at the crossroads.” He spoke about the students who were about to graduate and begin the next stage of their lives. For the trustees the crossroad was the end of one academic year, and the preparation for another. As the minister spoke to the trustees, he asked us to think about where would we be if we had not stood at the crossroad those many years ago when we graduated from college.

Crossroads come at us at many times during our lives. For me, a personal crisis (being dumped by my long-time girlfriend) provided the opportunity to change the direction of my life in a dramatic way. I moved to Chicago to join Rolled Steel Corporation in 1977.

Other crossroads took me on paths that led me to Pacesetter Steel in Georgia, Duferco Trading, Winner Steel (now called NLMK Sharon), and ultimately to the path that created the Steel Market Update newsletters, workshops, and the SMU Steel Summit Conference – the largest flat-rolled steel conference in the Western Hemisphere.

I am at a crossroad in my life as I transition away from being an employee of SMU/CRU. In early January 2022, I transitioned to being the President & CEO of Packard Consulting Services, which does consulting work exclusively for SMU/CRU. The SMU torch is being passed to Michael Cowden, Brett Linton, David Schollaert, and our newest addition Laura Miller.

Laura Miller is an experienced steel journalist who has written for Kallanish Commodities and Steel Business Briefing/Platts. She also worked for ThyssenKrupp Steel USA (now called AMNS Calvert) and is a past president of the AWMI Pittsburgh Chapter.

One of the things I always enjoyed about working in the steel industry was that every day there was a crossroad – a decision (or many decisions) needing to be made that took you down a challenging path as you strived to achieve a particular goal(s). Many times, the first crossroad was nothing more than a path going into a maze leading to many more crossroads (decisions needing to be made before the task is complete).

I started writing Steel Market Update in 2004 to provide information to my steel-buying customers. I was assisting them in their decision-making process by providing pieces of information they could not get elsewhere. Today, SMU continues to provide information unique to our organization that is derived from our discussions with industry participants and through our various proprietary market surveys.

I encourage you to interact with the SMU Team, which you can do by taking the individual’s first name and attaching it to (ex:

I continue to use my SMU email address ( But for those of you who wish to keep in touch with me on a personal basis, my email address is

Besides assisting the SMU Team on the newsletter, I continue to work diligently on our conferences (SMU Steel Summit and Tampa Steel Conference) and our workshops (Steel 101, Introduction to Steel Hedging, and Advanced Steel Hedging).

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me via email or on my cell phone.

Steel SummitUpdate on SMU Steel Summit Conference

We have now registered more than 500 executives for the 2022 SMU Steel Summit Conference, which will be held in Atlanta on August 22-24. We will once again be at the Georgia International Convention Center, which is located right next to the Atlanta International Airport (ATL).

Over the past few working days, the following companies added new executives to our registration list (those with an * means more than one attendee was registered from that company): American Metals Supply Co. Inc.*, Blistein Cold Rolled Steel*, Canam Steel Corporation*, Crunch Risk LLC*, Dura Coat Products Inc., Heating and Cooling Products Inc., Minnesota Power, Service Steel Warehouse Co. L.P., Superior Steel Supply LLC, Triad Metals International*, Union Pacific Railroad*. If you would like to add your company name, or would like to add more executives to our registration list, please click here or go to this website:

After you have registered, you will receive a link that will allow you to access our room block at the four Marriott properties in the Gateway Center, where the GICC is located. Please note, we never use a third party for room reservations. If you are being solicited by a third party you will most likely be moved to a hotel outside of the Gateway area, or you will overpay for your room. If you have questions about hotel reservations, please reach out to

We never sell the names of our attendees to any third party (or anyone for that matter). You have access to the companies registered by clicking here. Specific names are provided to registered attendees through our app or online platform. If you have any questions about how/when you can obtain names of attendees, please contact

It takes a tremendous amount of thought and work to put on a high-quality steel conference. This year is no exception. I continue to tweak the program as I look for original, relevant content, supplied by quality speakers who will address the issues, inform, and entertain – and who will interact with our attendees to ensure the information is being delivered the best way possible. Look for more announcements regarding speakers and our program over the next few weeks.

Unique SMU Community Chat Webinar Tomorrow (May 18th)

Stanislav Zinchenko, CEO of the GMK Center, which is a think tank focused on the iron and steel sector in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The CIS was formed after the collapse of the former USSR. It includes Russia as well as former Soviet republics such as Ukraine.

Zinchenko will discuss the status of the steel industry in the region. He lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine, and so will also talk about what it is like to try to go about daily life amid war. You can register for this FREE Community Chat Webinar (11 AM ET) by clicking here.

July Virtual Workshop – Steel 101 and Advanced Steel Hedging: Strategies & Execution

On July 12-13, we will host one of our Advanced Steel Hedging workshops (formerly called Steel Hedging 201). This will be a virtual workshop. To learn more about the workshop agenda, instructors, costs to attend, and how to register, you can click here.

On July 19-20, we will host one of our exceptional Steel 101: Introduction to Steel Making & Market Fundamentals Workshop. This will be a virtual workshop (the next live Steel 101 will be in October 2022). You can learn more about the agenda, instructors, costs to attend, and how to register by clicking here.

As noted above, our SMU Steel Summit Conference dates this year are August 22-24. You can find more about the agenda, companies attending, speakers, the SMU NexGen Leadership Award nomination process, costs to attend, and how to register by clicking here.

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

John Packard, Founder

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