Keeping up with change can be daunting. Technology is advancing faster than ever. And in an industry as old as time, change is inevitable.
Today, steel companies are utilizing technology to streamline services, create efficiencies, and enhance customer relations. For Cleveland-based Felux, innovation is the name of the game.
Steel Market Update sat down recently with Grant Bordine, Felux’s director of commercial, to shine a light on how the company is helping to modernize the industry.
A lightly edited version of the interview is below.
Steel Market Update: Who is Felux?
Grant Bordine: Felux is a unique company in the sense that you don’t see too many startups in the steel space. But we’re a buyer and seller of steel. Our goal is to generate the best buying and selling experience available within the industry and really hone in on our relationships. We focus on our suppliers and customers to better understand their business objectives and increase their efficiencies.
SMU: How did the company come about?
GB: We started out in 2019 with the idea of bringing technology to the steel industry. We saw a need for technology that’s used in a lot of other industries to accelerate towards a more streamlined transaction process. So, we brought an e-commerce solution to our network. Over the past five years, we’ve made some changes. And really, the shifts that we’ve made are a result of listening to our partners and what they wanted to see – what would make their day-to-day life easier. We do have plans to expand across the industrial supply chain, but our goal is to create the best buying and selling experience for the industry.
SMU: I have to ask, what is “MakeSteelSexy”?
GB: Felux was founded on the belief that there must be a better way for this industry to buy and sell steel and metal, which is the meaning of FELUX: Fe = iron + Lux = illuminated = Iron Illuminated. That belief is based on the fact that technology and relationships are the light that drives the future of this industry. The ethos of that is MakeSteelSexy. Steel is one of the most important materials that has arguably created more modern innovations than any industry, and today, it is looked at as an afterthought. MakeSteelSexy is a passion and mission for us as a team to tell the story of why it matters to every part of daily life. And a reminder to not take yourself too seriously along the way.
SMU: Did you start your career in technology?
GB: I graduated from college in 2008. Obviously not the best time to hit the job market or the best time in the overall economy. But really, after spending some time in different industries, I felt like I wanted to move back to my hometown of Cleveland. I applied for a position as sales support at a steel service center, but I didn’t know anything about steel or the impact of the industry in our everyday lives. I remember my first day there, I was put on the receiving line. A truck rolled in, and a 25,000-pound coil was taken off the truck and put right next to me on the scale. When I saw the number on the scale, it kind of blew my mind. I’m standing there thinking, geez, I need to run for cover! This coil is four or five cars worth in weight, and if it gets rolling…
SMU: That’s one way to start! What else did you do to increase your knowledge?
GB: I really dove into the industry and became a sponge. I took in all the information that I could. Thankfully, my previous employer gave me opportunities to network throughout the industry, and I didn’t shy away from those opportunities. There are great organizations that really enabled me to accelerate my growth within the industry. A big reason for that is the people that I was able to connect with.
SMU: It sounds like networking is important to you.
GB: I strongly rely on my industry relationships, which have turned into lifelong friendships throughout the years. I’ll be coming up on 15 years in the industry this year. My previous company really saw my aspirations. They created positions for me and really gave me resources to increase my knowledge base. I think a lot of times, talent can get lost in some of the red tape or wrong roles. In my case, it accelerated my growth.
SMU: How can people new to the industry get a similar experience?
GB: I think there’s a huge generational gap in our industry. The industry as a whole needs a younger generation to fill in the gaps. I think throughout my experience, I’ve learned about the importance of mentors. And mentors don’t have to be a boss or someone who has been in the industry for a long time. I’ve had different mentors in different parts of my career. At Felux, I really get passionate about the team that we have. Some of my coworkers are my mentors now, we really lean on each other and I’m proud of this group.
SMU: Mentorship can have a massive impact on someone.
GB: I agree. Early on, I was given the opportunity to work with a gentleman named David Thorburn, and he really mentored me in a unique way. He let me be accountable for my actions. He gave me the freedom to make decisions, and that really taught me a lot. Sean Madigan at U.S. Steel is another great mentor for me, to this day. He believed in my growth, supported my aspirations, and fought for me to be put in a position to succeed. Mike Barnett at Grand Steel taught me that growth is attainable and to be yourself and build up the people around you. Tony Bova, who we brought on at Felux, motivates me every day. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other. Then, of course, Chris Day, who I started Felux with, has really taught me relentless work ethic. He has a big-picture view with a “get it done” attitude. He drives me to be a better person, and I think that’s important when looking at mentors.
SMU: That’s amazing! So, what’s next for you guys?
GB: We’re going to continue to utilize technology and understand what is important to our business partners. We want to deliver a service that is high quality, with good communication and transparency throughout the process. Our main focus is to help modernize the steel industry.
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