Monday , December 17, 2018

Nucor Steel: Looking for a Fair Fight

Nucor Steel: Looking for a Fair Fight

Nucor Knows that Competition Just Makes Them Better!

As vice chairman of the World Steel Association, and recipient of the Steelman of the Year Award for the second time, John Ferriola’s work in the industry has been globally recognized. Despite market turmoil and imports capturing record market share in the U.S., Nucor—the nation’s largest steel producer and North America’s largest recycler—has continued to generate profits.

John Ferriola, Executive Chairman, President & CEO

Ferriola is chairman, CEO and president of Nucor Corporation. He joined Nucor Corporation in 1991 as manager of maintenance and engineering at a Texas bar mill, rising through the ranks to head up the company in 2013. Prior to joining Nucor, the SUNY Maritime Academy electrical engineering graduate had begun his career with Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1974, and worked for 17 years in various operating and management roles. 16-10-25-nucor_logo

Ferriola recently spoke at the World Affairs Council of Charlotte. Here are excerpts transcribed from his presentation (with some auditory limitations and edited for brevity and clarity), describing his company and the areas in which steel is adapting and evolving in terms of products, raw materials and teammates, and how steel is evolving as a globally traded product.

John Ferriola:

How many of you know the history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—the city and its vast steel mills in the ’50s? I grew up during that time. I spent much time in Pittsburgh. They’d always talk about the billowing black smoke coming out of the smoke stacks. They said that if you’d hang your laundry out to dry, you’d take it down and it was dirtier than when you first put it up. Making steel in the past was quite an environmentally unfriendly process.

Fortunately, I can say a whole lot of progress has been made since those days, and frankly Nucor’s commercialization of the electric arc furnace changed the whole nature of the steelmaking process. We have been able to reduce the environmental impact of steel fabrication and the footprint of our steel mills today.

If you would drive by one of our Nucor facilities now, you won’t see smokestacks with smoke billowing out of them. As a matter of fact, we are in some strange places—a lot of plants are refineries in the middle of cornfields in Indiana or in the middle of cow pastures in Texas.

It’s quite a different impact on the environment and on the communities. It’s really a result of the electric arc furnace or EAF. We’re really proud as steelmaking people to have been part of that revolution.

Nucor Corporation was in the steel industry in 1962 with the acquisition of a very small steel joist company called Vulcraft, which is located in Florence, South Carolina.16-10-25-nucor-charlotte-hq

At that time, we only had about 250 teammates in the company. A young engineer with an MBA by the name of Ken Iverson was put in charge of Vulcraft and by 1965, he had become president of Nucor. He decided that along with the steel joist business, we needed to buy steel product. We had such a problem buying from large integrated steel mills in terms of the quality that they would sell for us and the on-time delivery was so horrific, that he realized that the lack of a good supply of steel was adversely impacting business.

If he couldn’t buy steel or get it from a good supplier, what do you do? You go out and build a steel mill. That sounds like a pretty bold move, but Ken was that kind of a visionary. He went out. He built the first—Nucor’s first mini mill. 16-10-25-nucor_continuous_casting216-10-25-nucor_continuous_casting1

It was scrap-based and his thought process was, if we build something based on scrap as opposed to the traditional iron ore—using a blast furnace, which is a traditional integrated steel process—we would have a tremendous cost advantage because at that point, scrap frankly was considered a waste product. It was very, very inexpensive.

You know what? He was right.

But the Nucor culture that he created is not about technology. It’s all about our people, our teammates and our culture. He created the culture and used the ability to use technology to allow Nucor to become the largest, most diversified producer of steel and steel products in North America in just about 15 weeks.

Remember what I said when we started—250 teammates, small operation responsible for South Carolina. Last year we shipped over 17 million tons of steel with over $16 billion of sales. Today, we have over 200 locations and nearly 24,000 teammates and are global.

In addition to having our headquarters here in Charlotte, across the Carolinas we have 16 facilities that recycle scrap, make steel and use that steel to make steel products. In the Carolinas alone, we employ about 2,600 teammates who earn about $75,000 a year on average.

We recycle nearly 5.5 million tons of steel in the Carolinas alone. Just to put that in perspective, the average car weighs about 1 ton. You can think of it in terms of costs. That’s recycling 5.5 million cars in the Carolinas every year. Think about the impact that has on landfills, how environmentally friendly that is. We like to say your old Toyota can be a new GE washing machine.

In the Carolinas alone, we turn about 7 million tons of steel. In the last decade, we have invested over $300 million in new production capacity here in the Carolinas alone. As I’m standing here today, I can tell you, we’re not going anywhere. We’re here to stay.

There’s a lot of talk today about whether the steel industry can meet the needs of tomorrow’s industry. I’ve got to tell you, if you’ve been watching Charlotte’s skyline and seeing building after building going up over the past year, most of them are made out of steel. Steel continues to play a significant role in the economic growth of Charlotte, the Carolinas and of the United States.

I’m here to tell that, in spite of all the talk that you hear and the reports you read about aluminum or fiber carbons and everything else, I am absolutely convinced that steel will continue to be the backbone of the global economy through the 21st century and probably long after that.

At Nucor, we’ve been a leader in innovation and moving in new directions since our founding. As we’re introducing the electric arc furnace—the EAF—in the United States, we challenged ourselves to push the limits of what mini mills can make, constantly finding new ways to make the types of steel that our competitors were telling the industry we could never make. I’m proud to say to you that our 24,000 teammates proved them wrong.16-10-25-nucor_02

A little side story here…I worked for Bethlehem Steel before I joined Nucor. I was with Bethlehem Steel when Nucor was building mini mills, the continuous casting process at Indiana. The team at Bethlehem decided we better do a report on this site and whether or not this is actually good technology. They got their vast engineering team together, which was probably about 1,000 people, and they wrote a report that had to be about 2,000 pages thick, saying why the continuous casting process in Indiana would not work.

I got that report. I immediately said, “It’s time to leave Bethlehem.” I joined Nucor. If you’ve got a written report saying why something won’t work instead of focusing on how can we take the technology like that and make it work, that’s the difference between saying “We can do” and saying “We can’t,” and Nucor is a “can do” company. Bethlehem was a “cannot do” company. I’m with Nucor now. I’m very happy that Nucor employed me; it convinced me it was time to make a move.

One of the things we are constantly telling our teammates is this: We’re never as good today as we’re going to be tomorrow. As a global steel company in the global industry, steel is constantly innovating and making sure it fits the global infrastructure, that we can meet the needs of the global infrastructure. To do that, we’ve got to constantly innovate with steel. The industry as a whole globally is changing. It’s changing very, very rapidly.

I’ll be in Dubai for the 50th anniversary of the World Steel Association whose members account for about 85 percent of the world’s steel production. It’s an amazing opportunity to share ideas on safety and on technology with some of the most dynamic steelmakers in the world, as one of the 24,000 Nucor teammates working hard every day to make sure that steel continues to be the backbone of the global economy.

I’d like to share with you four key areas in which steel is adapting and evolving in our products, our raw materials and our teammates, and how steel is evolving as a globally traded product.16-10-25-nucor_03

First, let’s talk about the products. The consumer markets are constantly demanding new steel products. One market that continues to drive a lot of innovation is the automotive market. For example, in the U.S., government-mandated increase in gas mileage—what is called the CAFE standards for vehicles—is driving the need for steel that is lighter and more formable, but still provides strength that people expect and people need from steel.

I’m sure you’ve heard reports from the bloggers, some of the industry experts, that say there’s light weighting of vehicles. Will all of the automotive companies move to an alternative product? You hear a lot about aluminum, and you might think that aluminum has replaced steel as the automotives’ preferred metal. I’m here to tell you today that is not accurate. Some people believe that the steel industry can’t meet the needs of tomorrow’s automotive industry. They’d be right about that if we were using yesterday’s steel. We’re not.

Advanced high-strength steels are already in cars and the trucks that are on the road today—I’m proud to say that some of that is Nucor’s advanced high-strength steels. Our industry’s research and development is ongoing as we work with the top universities, national laboratories and our customers to further improve and expand the advantages of steel.

Steel has several advantages across all compared to some of the alternatives. First and foremost, advanced high-strength steel not only costs less than replacement materials, but usually it doesn’t require any major costly changes to the manufacturing process for the automobile.

The second advantage is steel’s superior safety performance which cannot be matched by substitutes. I visit with my customers and I talk about my grandchildren, and I say they will never ride in an aluminum car. If you’ve ever bought a can of peas in a steel can and bought a soda in an aluminum can, I challenge you to stand on it.

A third reason is that we can recycle nearly 100 percent of the steel we put into cars, so the environmental impact of steel over the lifecycle of that vehicle is substantially less than a substitute like aluminum.

Whether it be fuel-saving cars or record high skyscrapers, luxury sports stadiums or award-winning new rollercoasters at Carowinds, steel engineers are applying decades of experience and today’s newest tools and technologies to build the world around them.

Now, on to raw materials. To make the steel of tomorrow, we need reliable and competitively priced supplies or materials. Remember how we got into the business in the first place. We didn’t have a reliable cost-protected supply of materials. Now we’re faced with the same problem because the mini mill technology caught on so well worldwide that everybody is using scrap now. What used to be readily available and relatively inexpensive is now rarer and much more expensive.16-10-25-nucor_04

We’re always looking for new ways to respond to rapidly shifting economics of our raw material supplies, especially as the markets for these resources are becoming more global and changing. It used to be that the domestic steel industry survives primarily on domestic imports. Scrap metal, for example, was something that Nucor saw very real global demand for in the first few decades that we began recycling steel.

I can tell you it’s a very different business today. In a market where information and money travel around the globe almost instantaneously, we find ourselves competing with companies worldwide for the raw materials that we need to make steel. From iron to natural gas, securing a reliable source for these key inputs poses a tremendous challenge for any company not prepared for these dramatic price and supply fluctuations. Supply chain for all iron mixes is increasingly vulnerable to geopolitical risks including the Ukraine, today Russia, Turkey, across the Middle East. The shale gas revolution has created a volatile situation in the world energy markets.

How does Nucor respond to this? We’ve adapted, as we always do. We’ve adapted to these risks by developing a raw material strategy aimed at lowering our costs and gaining greater control over the iron units that we use to make steel.

When we recognized this problem, we turned to our engineers. We challenged them. We asked them to find a way to use more of these scrap substitutes that we call direct reduced iron or DRI. Basically, that’s iron ore that we cook at extremely high temperatures to eliminate the impurities, for a very pure iron ore that you can then put into your electric arc furnace.

They found a way to do that. They found a way to use all the DRI furnaces and we found we needed more DRI. We didn’t want to depend upon the volatile geopolitically risk areas. What did we do? We built our own DRI plant. First in Trinidad, and then we built a second one in Louisiana.

Today we produce about 4.5 million tons of DRI that we can use on our furnaces which gives us a great cost advantage and tremendous flexibility behind all of our iron-based raw materials.

The second thing that we use an awful lot of in our mill is natural gas. Basically, we have the same issues of volatility and scarcity of supply. We entered into a drilling arrangement in western Colorado that gives Nucor access to a long-term supply of reliable low cost natural gas to cover our current worldwide steelmaking needs.

You might have read just earlier this week about a deal that we had done about a year and a half ago, two years ago, three. We were able to redo and restructure in a way that actually gave Nucor much more flexibility while maintaining the same hedging that we were looking to obtain when we first did the deal.

When you pair those two moves with our 2008 acquisition of scrap recycler David J. Joseph, I’m here to tell you, we have added a lot of flexibility when it comes to managing the cost of iron bits which represents about 65 percent of our total cost of production.

Then we go back to our mills to be able to change these iron units so that we have more negotiating leverage as we buy scrap, DRI, the slow form of iron. This kind of flexibility and security strengthens our competitive position in a rapidly changing market that has upended previous ways of doing business. As challenging as it can be to secure a source of diverse and reliable raw materials for our industry, successful steel companies are broadening their approach to find solutions.16-10-25-nucor_05

Our teammates. Having a secure and affordable raw material supply chain is important, but what’s more important when we make steel than needing iron units is our people. Our teammates. Making sure that you have a secure, long-term supply of well-trained teammates is as challenging as making sure you have a source of supply of raw materials. Across the United States right now, manufacturers are having a hard time recruiting enough talent to fill the jobs that they have available.

In a 2015 study, they found that this shortage of trained talent and manpower that is happening today is only going to get worse. Today, manufacturing executives across the U.S. report that 6 out of every 10 jobs they have go unfilled due to lack of the properly trained talent to fill them. It often takes manufacturers 2 to 3 months to fill an open position.

Over the next decade, it is estimated that the U.S. economy will require about 3.5 million new manufacturing workers. What really concerns me is that based on current trends, nearly 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled. The manufacturing industry is facing a real threat of not having enough qualified workers to keep their businesses running.

This is not just an American problem. McKinsey Global Institute reported recently that the worldwide manufacturing industry is likely to see a shortage of over 40 million high-skilled workers and over 45 million medium-skilled workers by the year 2020.

Now time flies. 2020—that’s only three and a half years. We’re talking about a shortage of 85 million skilled workers worldwide. That’s a real challenge. McKinsey expects that the most pressing issue facing manufacturers in the coming years will be the struggle to find well-trained talent, it doesn’t matter where you manufacture. The rapid growth of knowledge-intensive manufacturing is going to increase the shortage of both high-skilled and medium-skilled workers in the coming decade.

McKinsey also expects this problem to be worsened by the aging of labor forces in all the developed nations and also in China. Globally, we’re all in the same boat.

What do you do about that? Just one of the things that we’ve done at Nucor is to partner with Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to create what we call Nucor Technical Academy. Students receive classroom education at the college and also get hands-on work experience at a nearby Nucor mill. Nucor pays for the tuition and the books and students get paid for the hours that they work in the mill.16-10-25-nucor_06

After they graduate with their associate’s degree in three years, they get started with a Nucor job right away. This has worked out very well for us. We’ve also worked with universities and colleges around the nation to fund scholarships and teaching positions in STEM and to build relationships with career advisors to get Nucor’s message out to the up and coming generation of potential recruits. Securing the next generation of high potential talent is crucial to manufacturing success and the nation going forward.

We have a real opportunity to recruit the best and the brightest of tomorrow, tomorrow’s talent, and bring them in as workers into our industry. I’m sure that this is going to be a challenge that everyone in this room and every company is going to face. It’s one challenge that I’m convinced that Nucor will rise to the occasion and find a way to supplement.

The future. Steel’s innovative future is going to be built on three things that I’ve talked about so far. The lighter more formidable, stronger steel products for tomorrow; the innovative acquisition, development and use of raw materials; and the creative improvement of people we need to make steel for the 21st century marketplace.

There’s one more area where steel is facing a tremendous challenge, and solving it is going to require the efforts of the entire global steel industry. Let me start by explaining one of the greatest challenges that we’ve seen in steel in the last 30 years. That is the rapid growth of domestic steel production in nations around the world. This globalization of steel is a good thing. It expands our markets, creates new trading relationships, and it allows goods and raw materials to flow around the planet.

Every one of our 24,000 teammates relishes competition from steelmakers all over the globe. Nothing makes the company stronger than having to innovate to stay ahead of good competitors. I truly believe that the best way to achieve global prosperity is to have the most efficient economic system, a system of free trade.

What I mean by free trade is trade free of government interference. Having the most efficient economic system will provide high paying jobs, which increases the demand for goods around the world. Increased demand for goods means that there’s an increase in the supply and the need for goods, which creates even more jobs, and thus completing what we call a circle of economic growth.

What some people forget is that free trade does not mean ‘free for all’ trade. There are rules, rules that have been agreed to and adopted by the nations, by all nations of the international trading community. And it’s critical that these agreements and these trade laws be rigorously enforced.

When governments ignore or intentionally break the rules by which we free trade, then our businesses are forced to compete against entire nations instead of competing against other companies. The only way to have a strong, global industry is through the robust competition that the free markets create with companies competing against other companies; not companies competing against the power of entire governments.

You might ask, “John, what do you mean by that? How do you compete against the government? How can the government compete against a company? Governments aren’t businesses,” you might say. Well in free markets, free market economies, that’s generally true. Let me give you an example of a government that is the business for itself. Anyone want to guess what I’m going to talk about next? A clue, it’s not Canada, but it starts with a “C.”

The steel industry in China is primarily owned by the Chinese government. Over 80 percent of the steel industry in China is owned by the Chinese government. China has illegally subsidized their steel industry and built a great wall around their markets. China manipulates its currency to keep exports cheap and imports expensive.

Put it simply, the Chinese government is acting like the parent company of a bunch of subsidiaries in China. It’s using the nation’s own resources to engage in economic warfare on behalf of its manufacturing industries. I’m here to tell you, they are winning that war. Businesses in free market economies are not competing against Chinese companies. We’re competing against the entire nation.

As a result, to put this in perspective for you, last year China exported more steel, they exported more steel than was produced in the United States, Canada and Mexico combined. Chinese exports are flooding every market around the world, and when Chinese steel displaces steel in a country’s own market, what happens? You get the domino effect. Steelmakers in that country are forced to export their product into other markets.

We all know that in the long run, everyone is better served when businesses compete on a level playing range. Products that result in honest competition are the best designed, the best quality and the best value. That kind of competition cannot happen when governments act as businesses in the marketplace.

It’s Nucor’s view and the view of many of our friends the free market economies around the world that there must be cooperation from all major manufacturing countries to solve this problem—a commitment from all governments to get out of the manufacturing business. No government ownership, no government control, no illegal subsidies.

But, until these actions are taken, we must be proactive and innovative in dealing with the cheaters who are threatening the health of our industry. That’s why Nucor continues to work with our industry allies to bring trade cases against nations that break the rules, break the law on trade.

Last year we saw Congress enact a law that gave the steel industry a new toolbox to help level the playing field on which we compete against illegal steel imports.

Now let me be clear. Utilizing trade learnings is not protectionism. These actions are legitimate and necessary responses to subsidized exports and dumping practices of nations with excess capacity. Breaking the rules, breaking all laws must have consequences.

Preaching that everyone should have free markets is just not enough. We must hold companies and governments accountable when they violate our trade rules. Trade wars, trade enforcement is one of the many ways to drive change toward a true market-based system.

Regardless of the challenges that face us, new products, raw material markets, the labor markets, the global trade markets, steel will continue to find ways to accomplish what others say we cannot do. We start from a position of strength and we will develop the innovative steel our customers need for a sustainable tomorrow.


What role should government play in protecting free trade?

John Ferriola:

The role of government, particularly the U.S. government, is relatively simple. There are laws on the books. There are international trade agreements that we’ve made with countries. Our government must rigorously enforce those laws and those agreements. When they are violated, they need to have the courage to take to task the countries or the companies that are liable to those laws and not worry so much about geopolitical issues that might result from that.


I knew Ken Iverson and I have tremendous respect for him and for the organization. Probably the only company that I ever got to know in any depth that I thought, “This is the kind of company that people really love working for.” You were involved in some major incentive programs for all your staff, for the guys on the production line and the women on the production line. Can you talk a little bit about how that works for you all and why it works? I was fascinated in those conversations I had with him a long time ago.

John Ferriola:

Well I’m always very, very careful at pointing out that Nucor’s success is not based on frankly Ken Iverson, Dan DiMicco or with John Ferriola. I like to tell people and I remind my team all the time, I’m a call center. They are profit center. What we like to do is make sure that everyone understands Nucor’s success is based on 24,000 teammates working hard, working safe, working together and incentivized the right way.

I mentioned that, on the average, most of our teammates make about $75,000 a year. About 60 percent of that comes from bonuses and it’s always based on incentive systems. You have be careful to make sure that they are based on the things that people can control, or they become meaningless. When 60 percent of your total compensation is dependent upon some measure, you want to make sure that you have absolute control or as much as you can absolute control over that metric.

Our teammates on the front lines that produce the steel, they get compensated for high quality tons of steel produced safely. If it’s not high quality, they don’t get the bonus. If they don’t do it safely, they don’t get the bonus.

Our steel goes through several processes. It goes through melting, we cast it, we roll it, sometimes we do additional work with galvanizing it. It goes through several stages.

The way that we have our bonus system set up is the stage in which the problem is caught gets a bonus. If the melt shop makes a mistake, they don’t catch it, it goes on to the rolling mill. The rolling mill sees that the steel was not made correctly back at the melt shop, they say, “Stop the process.” They get their bonus. Melt shop loses their bonus. If no one catches it, it goes all the way down the line and it’s caught by our quality control department at the end of the process, many of our mills, everyone on the entire line loses two times the bonus.

In some of our mills, if that product gets past the quality control and gets shipped to a customer, the entire line loses three times the bonus. Clearly, we incent to make sure that everyone produces high quality products and that they produce them safely.

Now our staff in the offices, engineers and so forth—management—they have more control over the assets of that division as opposed to the production of a ton of steel. They earn on a return on asset basis. We make sure if the executive team was working well at the end of the day, it’s all about return on equity, ROE, the stock price performance. We’re paid based on ROE.

Just so you don’t think that it gets less dangerous as you go up in the organization, I mentioned that the teammates on the floor, 60 percent of their compensation comes from bonus. As you move up, there’s the executive team, it’s probably closer to 80-85 percent of our compensation.

It’s really a great system because when anyone in the group does well, the entire group does well. Everything aligns through the line, all the way up to the organization. When everyone does well and makes money, Nucor does well and makes money. That’s a key element of our culture, and that’s what has led to Nucor’s success.

We talked about technology, but it’s really not about technology. It’s about the culture and the confidence. I always tell people that Nucor’s management system is extremely easy. When I retire, I’m going to write a book, The Key to Nucor’s Management Success. It’s going to be a great book. It’s going to make a lot of money, and it’s going to be the shortest book ever written. Because here’s the key to Nucor’s management success.

We hire the right people and we go through a rigorous interview process. Testing. Psychological profiling. You name it, we do it. We hire the right person.

Then we make sure and absolutely certain that they understand exactly what we want them to do. Then we make sure that they have all the tools that they need to do it. Whether they have the physical tools or whether it be training and development.

Then the fourth step, the last step, which is the most important step: It’s to get the hell out of their way. Because if you have the right person, they know what you want them to do and they have everything they need to do it, all you’re going to do is slow them down. That’s the key to Nucor’s management success and it’s a core element of our culture. It’s called trusting your team, trusting your team. It means that the person closest to the process is trusted to make the decisions that he knows the most about.


You touched on some of the challenges you faced on competing against China flooding different world markets with what sounds like cheaper steel. What are some of the ways that you’re mitigating the impact from that? How do you compete?

John Ferriola:

Well, several ways. We work hard with the government to enforce the trade laws. That’s number one. The second, we will go out and we’ll actually buy Chinese product and run it through the testing cycles to try to catch inferiorities. Many times, that we find the steel is not made to the metallurgical specifications that is signed off on, that the chemistry sheets are signed off on, which means that the steel is inferior for the applications in which it’s being used. And people could be killed.

It’s a lot of things that we do, but at the end of the day, it’s really up to our government to enforce the trade rules and we help them understand who is violating them, how easy it is to identify those people and go after them when we catch them doing that.

Several years ago, 2007, maybe something like that, we brought a Canadian company called Harris Steel. Great company. It’s been a great addition to the Nucor family. We love them. As part of that was a very small company that came along called Fisher & Ludlow. They make grating. It looks like steel and it’s used on walkways.

Because they had such a good reputation under the name of Fisher & Ludlow, the brand was very strong. We decided not to change the name. When you see the big sign that still says Fisher & Ludlow and now in little letters underneath it that says a Nucor company.

So not everyone immediately recognized that Fisher & Ludlow as a Nucor company, unless you really researched a little bit. The Chinese were caught dumping grating into the United States. A clear violation. They were assessed a trade tariff. They had to pay a penalty for every ton of steel grating that they brought into the United States.

What did they do? They got smart and said, “You know what? The Canadian companies that make grating, they have no tariff going to the United States. So, we’re going to contact one of them.” All right, so they wrote a letter to Fisher & Ludlow.

They send this letter on a Chinese company letterhead signed by the CEO of the company that says basically this: “Look, you guys have no tariff going into the United States. We have somewhere around 40 or 50 percent tariff going into the United States. Let’s make a deal. We will send you our gratings. We will send you the tags that go on our gratings, the Chinese tags. We’ll send you Fisher & Ludlow tags to put on to that product. Cut off our tags, put these tags on, send them into the United States and we’ll split the 40 or 50 percent tariff.”

Now if this wasn’t ironic enough, the gentleman who runs that business used to run our government affairs on trade rules. I was back in my office one day and I get a phone call—I could tell it was Pat just from his voice. I couldn’t understand what he was saying, he was so excited. He’s going on, he’s ranting about China and gratings and tags, and he explains this to me. He was just so irate.

That’s the things that we come up against. That is how blatant China and some other countries have gotten in finding ways to break our trade laws. It’s just not right. There are tens of thousands of steel workers out of work today because of this type of violation.

It goes across industries. There’s probably hundreds of thousands of textile workers out of work. Look at what a great textile state North Carolina used to be. Or who wants to talk about furniture manufacturing? Drive through some of those towns that were once just alive with people making beautiful furniture. They’re all gone today because of people who violated our trade rules. The steel industry and every industry, its customers, its suppliers suffer.


Running a technology-driven company, it’s very exciting to hear all the things that you’ve talked about. I would like to get some insight from you when it comes to additive manufacturing, which is the next frontier now with all the interest in 3D printing. Do you have some insight to share about that?

John Ferriola:

We believe that’s a very exciting technology, and just as we have gone on the steel side, always knowing what the next big step in technology is all about. We have teams that are looking at that. I can’t say too much more about Nucor’s participation in that. We’ll be deciding the proper time on public information. Clearly, we’re aware of that. We are looking at it and we’re excited about that technology.

Let me just branch off for just one minute by saying that at Nucor, we always like to say that we’re climbing the mountain without a tunnel. The steel industry’s proven track record of innovation has allowed a city like Charlotte to see its skyline built with taller and taller buildings every generation. Our commitment to you as a city is that we will continue to find ways to make steel better, stronger, more economical so that we can continue to build some of the great buildings in Charlotte together. Thank you for your attention today.


View Video:

Nucor’s John Ferriola

View Video:

Ferriola at Trade Hearings


Nucor Corporation

1915 Rexford Rd., Ste. 400

Charlotte, NC 28211

Phone: 704-366-7000

NYSE: NUE (S&P 500 Component)

Principal: John James Ferriola, Executive Chairman, CEO and President

Founded: 1940

Headquarters: Charlotte, N.C.

Plants: Operates 23 scrap-based steel production mills

Products: Steel, rebar; in 2015, the company produced and sold over 25 million tons of steel

Net income: $357.6 million (2015)

Employees: 23,700 (2015)

Business: Publicly traded domestic steel fabricator currently ranking as the largest steel producer in the United States of America and the largest “mini-mill” steelmaker (i.e. it uses electric arc furnaces to melt scrap steel as opposed to blast furnaces to melt iron); America’s largest recycler of any material and recycled 16.9 million tons of scrap in 2015.



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