SMU Spotlight: Transportation and Tampa Steel With Anton Posner

Written by Becca Moczygemba

Moving goods from one location to another may seem simple enough. But as we’ve seen in the past few years, it’s not always that easy. Fortunately, there are experts like Anton Posner, CEO of The Mercury Group, who take on the chaos of transportation.

Anton PosnerThe Mercury Group is a consulting firm that specializes in global commodity supply chain management, an integral function of the steel industry. Since Anton will be presenting at the Tampa Steel conference next month, we asked him for a preview of what he’ll be talking about.

The full text of the interview is below.

Steel Market Update (SMU): Where did you get the inspiration for The Mercury Group?

Anton Posner (AP): My business partner and I, Margo Brock, came out of the New York Maritime College in the Bronx back in the early ’90s as US merchant marine officers. We both stayed shoreside and went into the business of shipping. After working in various transportation-related jobs over the years, we realized that we had a great client base. Mercury came together in 2018.

SMU: As a merchant marine, you can go work on so many different vessels. Why did you choose to stay on land?

AP: After doing some sea time, I always joke, I had no salt in my veins. I did my sea time as a cadet and a US Navy Reserve officer, but I’m an extrovert, for sure. I’m pretty good at navigating cocktail parties!

SMU: Know thyself, right?

AP: Exactly!

SMU: Tell me more about how your work relates to the steel industry.

AP: We’re a logistics management company focused on steel, metals, and the raw materials business. We are a fiduciary, which separates us from the way other logistics companies work. Those companies are often described as our competition, but they’re not. We act on behalf of our clients, making decisions on choosing supply chain partners, transportation companies, barge lines, railroads, trucking companies, stevedoring companies, and port operations. We have a fiduciary responsibility to our clients, not trying to play broker and adding mystery margins on top of rates. We’re not trying to squeeze money out of every place. We work on a separate management fee basis, and we don’t make more money when our clients are suffering the way brokers do.

SMU: So, you’re taking a lot of the pressure off your clients.

AP: Right. The grunt work and the problem solving are two phrases we use pretty often. Taking the misery factor out, the chasing, the 24/7 operations.

SMU: I know you guys specialize in global operations, but do you do any domestic work?

AP: Yeah, our domestic division does a lot of trucking and rail freight operations. A lot of that is purely domestic, or NAFTA and USMCA focused.

SMU: Is there something that made you want to focus on metals? Why that specific commodity?

AP: No, I didn’t choose it. I fell into it. I never sat back and said, “You know, it’s going to be steel and metals.” It just happened. I was in a position where I was learning about different types of steel and getting deep into it. I got to the point where I could talk intelligently about it. Then it became a lot of nonferrous metals, then aluminum, copper, zinc, and lead, and it just kept building.

SMU: And now you’re just doing it all! Well, we’re excited to have you on stage at Tampa Steel this year. Can we get a sneak peek of what you’re going to talk about?

AP: I’ll talk in general about some of the current steel transportation topics. The barge market is off to a strong start for 2023, rail freight renewal contracts are moving upwards, looks like we’ve gotten past the threat of a rail strike, and the river system drought has eased pretty significantly.

SMU: Are you concerned about the potential longshoremen strike?

AP: I’m bracing for something crazy to happen, but I think if it did, it would be short-lived. It’s not keeping me up at night.

SMU: Among all the madness, what’s your favorite part of your job?

AP: The travel and the relationships that I’ve built around the world.

SMU: What’s next for The Mercury Group?

AP: I think the answer to that is looking at expanding our internal operations to other parts of the world. Looking at what, geographically, makes the most sense.

Want to hear more from Anton? Click here to register There are currently over 200 companies registered, and there are still spots available for the golf tournament and the harbor tour. We look forward to seeing you!

By Becca Moczygemba, Becca@SteelMarketUpdate.com

Becca Moczygemba

Read more from Becca Moczygemba

Latest in Futures