Steel Products

EXCLUSIVE: Stickler Embraces Technology in New Rebar Venture

Written by Becca Moczygemba

Dave Stickler is eager to demonstrate how advancements in technology can contribute to making the rebar market more sustainable.

In an interview with SMU, the former CEO of Big River Steel and one of the founders of Steel Dynamics Inc. (SDI) said that there’s a huge market opportunity for his new venture, Hybar, a rebar mill project in northeast Arkansas.

“The advancements in technology that we’re going to be installing, will allow us to have the lowest carbon emissions, likely in the world steel industry,” Stickler said.

After successfully building and operating Big River Steel, Stickler says he’s looking forward to serving the independent fabricator community as a reliable partner.

“We just started construction yesterday and we’ve already pre-sold 24% of the steel mill’s output for the next 10 years,” Stickler said. “We want to be a good partner for our customers. We will never compete with them,” he added.

Vertical integration is not a road Hybar plans to travel down.

“I don’t believe in it. When you’re done buying all these different pieces, you don’t know what you are,” he said.  “What I’m going to be, is something we’ve done extremely well – I’m going to buy scrap, convert it sustainably, efficiently, and profitably, and sell it to the market. We’re going to treat our customers with dignity and respect, and look for ways to be their partner, not their competitor.”

As rebar makes up a smaller portion of the steel market compared to flat rolled, Stickler said he’s looking forward to some friendly competition.

“With every new project, I’ve had to shift my customer base from buying patterns they’ve historically bought from, to me with a new mill. We have tough competitors who are established, and we look forward to competing with them in the marketplace,” he stated.

With so much success during his time in the industry, the steel veteran doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. He’s passionate about creating opportunities for people to change their lives through various incentive programs and training.  And he’s thankful for his employees who deliver on time, work safely, and run the equipment efficiently. “Whenever someone comes and says ‘thank you’ to me, I say, “No, thank you,” he stated.

“It’s the secret sauce,” said Stickler. “Anybody can buy the technology. The trick is to create the culture from day one.”

“If we do our job right, we’ll have the most efficient, lowest cost of labor per ton of steel with the highest paid workers in the steel industry,” he said. While that may be a conflicting statement, Stickler sees value in exposing his employees to different segments within the organization.

“Cross-training is key. Hybar has plans for big growth over the coming years and I want this initial team to be able to step up into ever increasing roles of responsibility as we continue to expand. When I ask the question, ‘What do you want to do in a few years?’ I love the people who say that they want my job.”

Becca Moczygemba

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