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Service Center of the Year

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Jemison Metals
Jemison Metals firmly believes that its success is a consequence of its commitment to be a best-in-class service center. This comes as the Birmingham, Alabama-based company grew its shipments by 6% in 2017, even though it was a year of relatively stable prices for steel.

Traditionally steel service centers can increase their competitiveness by their ability to avoid price risk, their ability to manage mill and internal lead time in a way to provide just-in-time deliveries, their ability to absorb carrying costs and/or their ability to invest in the high-cost production assets that provide their customers’ product in line with ever-increasing quality standards. Since these goals are easier to attain in a stable market, they do not provide ‘standard’ mid-sized steel service centers the ability to differentiate themselves.
 
Regardless of market conditions, Jemison attributes its success to a continuous commitment to offer seamless service and execution through contract management technology, effective cost savings initiatives, supply chain optimization, competitive and transparent pricing and strategic purchasing programs. The ability to manage costs, find optimal supply chains and have confidence in its ability to execute plans has also enabled Jemison Metals to gain sizable entry positions at some new, high-demand customers, such as Daimler and Bluebird.

Jemison has experienced over 25% growth in its stainless steel and aluminium business – a business it only entered into in 2016 – and helped by equipment investments at its Lynchburg, Virginia, facility, it saw 20% year-on-year growth in its fabrication business. All told, Jemison’s gross margin has grown from $17.8 million in 2013 to $39.5 million in 2017.

Kenwal Steel, Inc
KYB Americas Corp (KAC), a Franklin, Indiana-based Tier 1 automotive shock absorber supplier, has nominated Kenwal Steel, Inc, Dearborn, Michigan, which it says has successfully overcome “every obstacle that KAC has thrown at them without falter.”

In 2011 KAC began using Kenwal for its centralized steel program to manage its steel stamped parts and tubing shipments, which have increased from 600 tons per month to two locations in 2008 to 2,000-plus tons per month to 10 locations in 2017.

KAC says that Kenwal has also helped the company to improve its steel forecasting and long-term planning as well as optimizing its centralized steel program, with Kenwal not only processing, warehousing and distributing steel from three locations in the United States but also recently establishing a joint venture with a Mexican steel supplier. “Their foresight and ability to overcome our challenges is second to none,” KAC says.

In addition to providing KAC with 100% on-time deliveries over the past six years, it has also outperformed both KAC’s expectations and the industry standard of 0.0001 parts per million, as well as managing their program of 150 stock keeping units (SKUs) with volumes ranging from 1 to 400 tons per month per item.

KAC says it has also been impressed by Kenwal’s technical support staff, including its stamping die vetting and critical response team.

Klein Steel Service, Inc
By leveraging the investments that it made in the last year and making certain other changes aimed at increasing market share and seizing new product line opportunities, Klein Steel Service Inc improved its revenues by 21% in 2017 from the previous record level it achieved in 2016.

Fundamental to Klein Steel’s success was its customer service and its core belief that ”the customer is always No. 1” and that it is important to listen to the customer and to understand what they really want and anticipate their future needs. This is in keeping with the philosophy of Klein Steel’s founder, Arnold Klein, who has stated, “Listen to the customer; keep a great inventory; provide quick, dependable, friendly service; treat employees fairly and promote flexibility, patience and growth.”

In 2017 Klein Steel aggressively pursued increased business while also maintaining its high standard for on-time deliveries. Its inventory turns in 2017 decreased to 4.8 from 5.1 in 2016 and its shipments increased by 12 million pounds more in 2017 than 2016. The company’s average inventory balances increased by an average of nearly 3 million pounds. This was mainly due to acquisition of a large customer account that requires its own specific inventory purchases and for the company to maintain minimum levels. Klein Steel has also optimized the operations of all its facilities with an eye to increasing productivity and capacity and expanded its product line to include select grades of tool steels.

One of the company’s capital improvements included the upgrade of its Kasto storage and retrieval system, enabling it to increase input and output. That included upgrades to its hardware and software, providing greater speed and functionality. The company also expanded and improved its fleet of 21 trucks.

MidWest Materials, Inc
Midwest Materials’ corporate slogan is “Together we are stronger than steel”, which the company says is a true portrayal of its relationships established with all of its stakeholders. Midwest increased its profit by 25% in 2017.
 
As part of its push to improve its customer service in 2017, MidWest expanded its product offerings to include steel plate, long products and fabricated parts, while being careful to ensure that it was not competing with its existing customers. The company also continued to make capital investments aimed at improving quality and on-time delivery. As a result of not only these investments, but also other quality-related improvements, MidWest’s rejection rate fell to 0.02% in 2017 from its already low 1%.

An early adopter of the latest stretch leveling technology, MidWest recently installed a very large Leveltek stretch leveler, giving it the ability to level 5/8in thick, 101in wide high-strength steel. It has also installed a new automated sheet lifter capable of handing over 122in wide steel and is in the final stages of designing in improvements to its level line.

MidWest also purchased two new trucks to protect itself from recent driver and carrier shortages. It also meets regularly with its vendors to define the most efficient purchasing practices.

In line with its history of corporate responsibility, MidWest continues to be committed to both the steel and local communities. In addition to MidWest being active members, and sometimes leaders, of many industry associations, including the Association of Steel Distributors, Steel Tank Institute, National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, North American Steel Alliance and the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, its employees are encouraged to take leadership positions in philanthropic, community, school and religious organizations.

Mill Steel Company
Helped by its unwavering belief that there is always room for improvement, Grand Rapids, Michigan -based Mill Steel Co achieved double-digit year-over-year growth in 2017. One of its most notable accomplishments was the opening of a new 100,000 sq foot facility in Houston with slitting and cut-to-length capabilities, helping to support Mill Steel’s growing construction, OCTG, agriculture and HVAC business in the southern United States and Mexico.

Hurricane Harvey hit just one month after the company began operations at the facility in Houston, causing it to shut down for two weeks and for Mill Steel to find a way to redirect inventories to alternative facilities and rearrange production schedules to allow the company to ship from different plants while still maintaining its high on-time ratings.

Knowing that meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations is vital to its success, Mill Steel continues to develop several strategies to support this goal, including its new “No-Headache Start Up” procedure. That involves having fulfillment department experts visit customers’ facilities whenever there is a new program award in order to review their processes and develop a customized plan to ensure that the startup is seamless, providing mutual cost savings.

Mill Steel is also constantly improving its standards to ensure that it supplies the highest quality product. As part of that effort, last year it was amongst the first 10% in the industry to transition to the newest automotive quality requirements. It has already received ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949:2016 accreditation at its Melvindale and Grand Rapids, Michigan, facilities, with its other plants scheduled to achieve these industry standards by September 2018.

The company also brought its costs down by $1.2 million last year aided by its “Project One Million” cost savings plan.

TW Metals, Inc
Operating on a foundation of integrity, openness and transparency is core to everything the Exton, Pennsylvania-based TW Metals Inc does, as can be seen by its 110-year commitment to continuous improvements and investment in people, safety, technology and resources to benefit its customers, employees and shareholders.

In 2017, with the company continuing to evolve, providing streamlined operations, smart purchasing and creative solutions for its customers, TW Metals’ year-over-year financial performance exceeded expectations. This was fueled by new expansion into Mexico, Singapore and China, as well as substantial expansions of existing facilities in France, Poland, China and the UK.

TW Metals has also invested in several leading-edge technologies to support lean principals, lower costs and to improve safety and transparency. One example of its embrace of lean manufacturing is its NexGen warehouse management system, which was designed by its in-house software engineers to manage every aspect of the warehouse from goods-in to goods-out through a paperless routing system. The system manages production, quality and other activities throughout all process steps.

TW Metals has also established an award-winning dynamic quality system. Along with over 200 individual customer quality approvals, the company is a leader in compliance management and export controls with AS and ISO certifications that encompass the distribution of raw material and aerospace machined and fabricated components. Its quality system also certifies it to be a supplier to the global nuclear industry, where it maintains numerous certifications.

The company also has an unrelenting passion for safety in all aspects of its business, which has enabled it to achieve consecutive declines in reportable incidents over the past five years.

The business has developed an e-commerce strategy that includes an easy-to-use, customized online electronic portal for each existing and potential customer, allowing them to access TW Metals’ inventories and other resources 24/7. Owing to its use of the latest search engine optimization and other technologies, TW Metals has seen its website hits increase by over 3,000% over the past three years.

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