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MidWest Materials CEO Brian Robbins in Metal Center News:
When asked to share a message from my nearly 25 years of experience in the steel industry, I struggled, considering the many volatile and polarizing issues that seem to exist today. For as we turn the page on the calendar to a new year, it seems more like a time for resolutions, goals and hope. So, I thought about what I discuss when most people outside of our industry ask me about our business, and after the obligatory comments about the economy, inventory costs and tariffs, it usually turns to the people.
The economic changes, political climate, supply chain challenges and competition definitely keep our industry exciting, but I think many would agree it is the people we meet and the relationships we have developed that make it remarkable. I have had the unique opportunity to meet four generations of people working throughout our industry over the years, some pioneers and some just starting. As I am sure many of you know, steel “folk” are some of the most fascinating people and best storytellers you are likely to encounter. I know that iPhones and emails are a mainstay in our lives today, but nothing beats having dinner with a steel veteran where not only may you make a deal on a napkin, but the conversation will likely turn to someone’s first sale. Or their biggest buy, or an infamous character from the good old days, or the time someone played Augusta, or met the Rat Pack, or was at “that” game. Dave Lerman recently commented that you should “Shake hands with your competitors. Remember they’re not enemies – just good guys on the other side of the field!” He is exactly right. Our competitors make us better (even when we are frustrated with them). And when you get to know them, you are likely to learn something or hear a good story. I am lucky to have worked with many competitors through involvement in different associations, and I am honored to call many of them my best friends. Sure, we are all in business to make a profit, but I suspect many stay in this business, survive in it and even thrive in it because of their relationships with the people in it.
Despite our industry’s secret sauce, we struggle to attract younger people to join our businesses. And I am reminded of remarks I made five years ago when I was installed as president of the Association of Steel Distributors. I think they still apply today, and I would share them here.
I am really proud to be a part of such an amazing community. The steel community has been vibrant, to say the least, for a long time. In its heyday, a job offer to a corporate steel sales training program was one of the most sought after. Steel was cool. The industry was respected. There was travel, and company golf courses, interesting people and great relationships. Industry was growing, and thus steel was needed. Steel executives, even steel salespeople, were celebrities in their communities.
Back when big steel was a thriving, sexy industry, the national, and international, community viewed it as a viable means of employment and stability. Then there were some dark days, with oversupply, dumping, market crashes, offshoring and bankruptcies. (Of course, that is when I joined…) Job seekers wanted to work at the new sexy companies such as Google and Apple and other dot-coms; steel companies became relatively anonymous. And jobs in the steel industry became, well, undesirable.
But with difficult years behind us for now, and the return of success at many levels of the steel chain, it is time to revive the old mindset, to encourage those with intellect, an entrepreneurial spirit and ambition to join our ranks. We are a close-knit group of industry experts who understand the importance of steel within the United States. More importantly, we understand what a great community we work in and the amazing opportunities it provides us. However, how do we get others to view the steel industry with the same passion?
First, recruit. We need to attract young women and men directly. And we need to invest in technology and our office spaces. But more importantly: Get Involved. Be a leader and set an example. Donate your time or money to an inspiring cause. Organize a steel group for your local breast cancer walk. Coach your child’s school sports team and sponsor them with steel company T-shirts. Engage in policy and political discussions. Join a civic or philanthropic committee or board. By getting involved in your local community, being visible and sharing your success, you reflect the integrity and achievement of our industry.
Participate, innovate and advocate in and for the steel industry. Be a storyteller. Communicating the strength of steel to our communities is as easy as engaging with individuals and being generous with our successes. As a strong community, we are in the perfect position to educate and advocate for steel. Individually we each can be an ambassador and make a difference, and as is the motto at MidWest Materials, “Together We Are Stronger Than Steel!”
NEW YORK — Finalists spanning the steel industry supply chain have been announced for the 2018 American Metal Market Awards for Steel Excellence.
“We again had an outstanding response in both the quality and quantity of the nominations, reflecting the continued strengthening of the global steel industry and the innovative solutions to further increase competitiveness of individual companies and the industry at large,” said Raju Daswani, chief executive officer of American Metal Market.
This year’s finalists total 53 companies in 15 categories. Nominations were received from throughout the steel supply chain - from tube and pipe companies, producers, service centers, raw materials providers, scrap equipment suppliers and recyclers, to purveyors of technology, logistics, information, financial and legal services critical to the industry.
Finalists were selected by senior American Metal Market editors, and those entries will be scored by steel industry veterans who serve as judges to select the winners. The winners will be announced at the annual Steel Awards Dinner, to be held June 26 in New York in conjunction with the annual global Steel Success Strategies conference presented by American Metal Market and World Steel Dynamics.
Best Innovation: Product - Gerdau Special Steel North America; Gerdau Long Steel North America/Dywidag-Systems International USA Inc; Steel Dynamics Inc, Butler Flat Roll Division; TimkenSteel Corp; Trinity Products LLC
Best Innovation: Process - ArcelorMittal Dofasco; Falk PLI; GrafTech International Ltd; HyCal Corporation; Independent Steel Alliance; Steel Dynamics Inc, Butler Flat Roll Division; TimkenSteel Corp
Best Operational Improvements - ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Gerdau Long Steel North America; GrafTech International Ltd; Outokumpu Americas; TimkenSteel Corp
Best Environmental Responsibility/Stewardship - ArcelorMittal USA; Big River Steel; Bob’s Metals Inc; Liberty Iron & Metal Inc; SSAB Americas; TimkenSteel Corp
Technology Provider of the Year - Danieli & C. Officine Meccaniche S.p.a. (Micro-mill Project); Danieli & C. Officine Meccaniche Spa (Universal Endless Project); Falk PLI; Nalco Water; Primetals Technologies; Glenmount Global Solutions/SR-Instruments Oy/ArcelorMittal Global Research; TMEIC
Financial Services Provider of the Year - Bank of America Merrill Lynch; BMO Harris Bank N.A.
Legal Services Provider of the Year - Burr & Forman LLP; Gray Reed & McGraw LLP; Morris, Manning & Martin LLP; Wiley Rein LLP
Information Technology Provider of the Year - AME Research; Quintiq
Steel Producer of the Year - Big River Steel; Gerdau Special Steel North America; Nucor Corp; SSAB Americas; Steel Dynamics Inc
Logistics/Transportation Provider of the Year - Gerdau Special Steel North America; Ports of Indiana
Scrap Company of the Year - B.L. Duke; Ferrous Processing & Trading Company; Liberty Iron & Metal Inc; PSC Metals Inc; Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc; Sims Brothers Recycling; Triple M Metal LP; W Silver Recycling Inc
Scrap Equipment Provider of the Year - Harris Waste Management Group Inc; Metso Minerals Industries Inc
Tube and Pipe Producer of the Year - JSW Steel (USA) Inc; Michigan Seamless Tube LLC; Trinity Products LLC
Service Center of the Year - Jemison Metals; Kenwal Steel Inc.; Klein Steel Service Inc; MidWest Materials Inc; Mill Steel Company; TW Metals Inc
Raw Materials/Consumables Provider of the Year - Carmeuse Lime and Stone North America; Ecovery LLC; GrafTech International Ltd; RHI Magnesita N.V.
The Association of Steel Distributors (ASD) is proud to announce that Brian D. Robbins, CEO of MidWest Materials, has received the 2017 Steel Man of the Year Award. Since 1956, this award has recognized individuals who have made lasting contributions to the steel distribution industry over a significant period of time, and it is the most distinguished honor in the industry.
Upon receiving the award, Robbins felt humbled to become part of this rich legacy. “I am honored to be chosen for this prestigious award. My family has been associated with the steel industry for more than 65 years, and it is humbling to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, Joseph Koppelman, founder of MidWest Materials, who was one of the earliest members of the ASD and served as its president 50 years ago,” Robbins said, “I look forward to continue working with the FMA (Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International) and ASD to promote another active year of growth, education, communication and furthering friendships.”
March 29, 2017 - Brian D. Robbins, CEO (left), and Noreen Koppelman-Goldstein, President (right), have both been chosen as finalists for Platts Global Metals Awards for CEO of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award, respectively. Finalists were chosen from over 100 nominations and will be judged by a panel of international experts. Winners of the 2017 Global Metals Awards will be announced at a black-tie dinner in London in May.
MidWest Materials is also honored to be a finalist for American Metal Market’s Awards for Steel Excellence in the category of Service Center of the Year. AMM, for the eighth year in a row, will honor innovation and excellence in the steel industry in 17 distinct categories. Finalist will be judged by a panel with extensive steel industry leadership experience and winners will be announced at a celebration in New York City in June.
Noreen Koppelman-Goldstein is the daughter of co-founder Joseph Koppelman and Brian D. Robbins represents the third generation of his family to lead MidWest Materials, which is proudly celebrating its 65th Anniversary this year.
“We are extremely proud of being a part of a very impressive group of finalists for each of these awards,” stated Mr. Robbins. “We recognize that we could not achieve these honors without the great efforts of MidWest Materials’ dedicated management team and employees; we are grateful for all their support.”
For more information, please contact us at 800-321-4143 or request a quote.