Car Frame
Four companies that supply automakers and commercial vehicle manufacturers with everything from aluminum extrusions to chassis to electric batteries have announced production capacity expansion projects.

UACJ Automotive Whitehall Industries, which extrudes aluminum automotive components and assemblies, will take over an existing distribution center in Flagstaff, Arizona, to create a new facility making parts for electric vehicles. Local economic development officials estimate that the company will invest up to $60 million on the expansion. UACJ Whitehall expects to launch production in April.

Lion Electric, which builds all-electric trucks and buses, will build a battery manufacturing plant in Quebec. Slated for an early 2023 startup, the Cdn. $285 million factory will produce battery packs and modules made from lithium-ion cells. With a planned annual production capacity of 5 gigawatt-hours in battery storage, Lion will be able to electrify about 14,000 medium and heavy-duty vehicles per year.

Metalsa Structural Products Inc., which builds chassis structures, will expand its Hopkinsville, Kentucky, operation and install two new manufacturing lines. Startup of production is expected in late 2022.

Kirchhoff Automotive, a German supplier of complex metal body components to the automotive industry, will invest $15 million to open an assembly facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The new 101,000-square-foot factory will be used for the final assembly of metal body parts coming from Kirchhoff’s other U.S. plants.

Metal Cylinders
Iron beams of building being constructed
Inflation of construction material costs is real
“Anyone who questions whether or not the inflation story is real should look at [February’s] Producer Price Index,” says Anirban Basu, chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Washington, D.C.

As a group, commodity prices continue to move higher, although late February and early March saw periods of volatility with prices pulling back in some markets, says John Mothersole, pricing and purchasing research director for IHS Markit.

“This recent choppiness cannot be described as a correction,” he says, citing the firm’s Materials Price Index, which recorded a collective increase in commodity pricing during the four weeks ended March 5.

The demand-side factors that have been driving prices higher for the past year—including rebounding manufacturing activity and generous government stimulus—remain in force.

…the pace of price increases could further accelerate.
anirban basu, associated builders and contractors
Construction input prices rose 2.1 percent in February versus January and rose 7.6 percent from a year ago, the ABC found. Prices for iron and steel products jumped 22 percent year over year.

“Input prices are rising rapidly even in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic that continues to suppress economic growth in many parts of the world,” says Basu. “These conditions should create flat prices, but the injection of fiscal stimulus into the global economy, along with occasional supply chain issues, have produced a nearly 8 percent rise in construction input prices over the past year.”

Basu predicts that as vaccinations “become more pervasive, additional stimulus is injected into various economies and the economies reopen in earnest, the pace of price increases could further accelerate.”

ABC is warning members they should be very careful in crafting their contracts, given the risk of future materials price increases. “The risk is real. [The most recent data] does nothing to alter that prescription,” he says.

Following an early March conference call with steel executives, Morgan Stanley Research reports that market fundamentals are strong and pricing for hot-rolled coil on the spot market should remain on solid footing through third quarter.

Morgan Stanley’s Americas Metals & Mining team was told that lead times are extended, ranging between 9 and 10 weeks depending on the mill, while floor inventory is still very low.

World Trade Center
World Trade Center designer
Leslie E. Robertson, whose career came to be defined by his work on the World Trade Center, has died. Robertson won the American Institute of Steel Construction’s J. Lloyd Kimbrough Award in 2001, which recognizes engineers and architects as the pre-eminent steel designers of their era. Robertson was in his 30s when he took on the World Trade Center project. He designed an innovative framing system that used closely spaced exterior steel columns and long-span steel floor trusses to create large, open, column-free spaces. On Sept. 11, 2001, those towers were impacted by fully loaded, high-speed aircraft that were much larger than the Boeing 707 Robertson had considered during the design process. Thousands of people escaped before the towers collapsed, but Robertson disclosed that the event haunted him.
Nucor to build tube mill, building products plant
Nucor Corp., Charlotte, North Carolina, plans to build a tube mill at its Gallatin plant in Ghent, Kentucky, and a third TrueCore plant in Brigham City, Utah.

The 250,000-ton tube mill, projected to cost $164 million, is slated for startup in two years. The mill will roll hollow structural sections, mechanical steel tubing and galvanized solar torque tube, which will increase Nucor’s product offerings for construction, infrastructure and renewable energy.

Nucor’s planned 120,000-square-foot TrueCore factory will manufacture insulated wall and roof panels using continuous line equipment. The facility should begin operations next year with a staff of 50. TrueCore, acquired in 2019, is part of the Nucor Buildings Group division.

Severe winter weather in mid-February accounted for the bulk of the declines in industrial output for the month.
Graph of industrial output from December 2020 - February 2021
Source: Federal Reserve
Copper pipes
EPA: Copper protects against viruses
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that certain copper alloys provide effective long-term protection against viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. The EPA’s approval makes these alloys the first and only products to be registered for nationwide use with residual, long-lasting efficacy claims against viruses. This EPA action granted an amended registration to the Copper Development Association, allowing CDA to add unprecedented virucidal claims to its existing registration, which currently permits claims against bacteria, including the antibiotic-resistant hospital superbug MRSA.
Kevin Richardson Headshot
Ryerson makes C-suite changes
Kevin Richardson has retired from his position as Southeast region president for Ryerson Holding Corp., Chicago, after 36 years with the service center network. Mike Burbach has taken on the role of chief operating officer, overseeing all North American business units. Burbach has spent 37 years with Ryerson, serving the last 13 as president of the Northwest region. As part of this organizational change, Ryerson North America will be divided into three regions to be led by regional presidents Steve Bosway (West), Eric McGill (South) and Jeff Redfield (North). Bosway has been with Ryerson for nine years and has worked in the metals industry for 44 years. McGill joined Ryerson in 1993 and has held multiple roles of increasing responsibility in sales and management. Redfield has 28 years of experience with Ryerson.
Iron Bridge
SMA comments on infrastructure report
In response to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest report card on the status of America’s infrastructure, Philip K. Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, stated that “ASCE’s grade of C- is a clear sign that our domestic infrastructure needs significant improvements. SMA is pleased to see the Biden administration and Congress prioritizing infrastructure spending, which will benefit our nation for years to come.” SMA’s leadership hopes that any infrastructure package “will include strong Buy America requirements to help ensure federal dollars are spent on American-made goods. Buy America requirements should apply to any infrastructure project funded in whole or in part with federal monies, including public-private partnerships,” Bell stated.
Car frames lined up
Novelis debuts new grade of automotive aluminum
Novelis Inc., Atlanta, has created a new grade of automotive aluminum, Novelis Advanz 7UHS-s701. The ultra-high-strength material offers lightweighting potential of up to 40 percent over existing ultra-high strength, hot-formed steel solutions. It is designed for safety-critical structural applications in passenger vehicles that require high in-service strengths such as A and B pillar reinforcements and side impact door beams. The material offers mass reduction to enable increased payload and longer battery range, while still meeting all crash, loading and overall design requirements.
Exterior of Harbor Steel office
Michigan distributor to expand
Harbor Steel & Supply Corp., a Muskegon, Michigan-based service center, will invest $2.4 million into a 34,000-square-foot expansion at an existing plant in Holland, Michigan. Through the expansion, the company expects to retain its current 24-person workforce, and create 10 new jobs over the next two years, according to Lakeshore Advantage, an economic development organization that helps finance regional business growth.
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Gerald R. Harris Headshot
Founder of HE&M Saw
Gerald R. Harris, the founder of HE&M Saw, Pryor Creek, Oklahoma, has died. Born in Minneapolis in 1931 and married for 69 years to Francesca “Connie” Rodriguez, Harris started Harris Engineering & Manufacturing (HE&M Saw) in his garage in Livermore, California, in 1964. The company initially built feed tables for band saws. Harris revolutionized early industrial band saws through a series of patented inventions. The Harris family moved to Oklahoma in 1976 and began building the business from there.
Metal consumers call for end to Section 232 tariffs
The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users, representing more than 30,000 U.S. manufacturers, wrote to President Joe Biden requesting the immediate termination of the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports enacted under the Trump administration. In its letter, the coalition urged the president to consider how the steel tariffs have hurt small, family-owned manufacturers and fractured relations with overseas trading partners. The letter also emphasized that, combined with the U.S. Commerce Department’s impaired exclusion process, the tariffs interfere with U.S. manufacturers’ ability to compete globally. “The exclusion process alone cannot address the shortages and price spikes that are hurting steel and aluminum-using manufacturers.” The letter encourages Biden’s trade administration to focus instead on re-engaging with U.S. trading partners “on a coordinated response to address the root cause of global oversupply in steel and aluminum: excess capacity in China.”
Mark White Headshot
Non-profit names executive director
Alumobility, a non-profit organization founded by Constellium and Novelis and which provides implementation-ready solutions to advance the adoption of aluminum automotive body sheet, appointed Mark White as executive director. White will provide strategic guidance to the organization’s marketing and technical work teams.
Alro Steel facility exterior
Alro Steel completes Ohio expansion
Alro Steel Toledo has completed an expansion of its warehouse expansion and office remodeling. The facility increased to 123,000 square feet, housing additional metal processing capabilities, doubling the storage capacity for sheet product, plate and long products. The Toledo service center focuses on processing with next-day delivery across Ohio.
Gary Stevenson Headshot
Bystronic picks East Coast manager
Bystronic, Hoffman Estates, Illinois, appointed Gary Stevenson as East Coast regional manager. Stevenson has more than 28 years in the metal fabrication machine tool industry, specializing in CNC lasers, press brakes, automation and software solutions.
AISC Certification updates documentation
The AISC Certification program, which sets the quality level for structural steel fabricators and erectors, has made substantial improvements to its governing documents, starting with a name that better represents its current use: the Standard for Certification Programs (AISC 207-20). The standard includes a new chapter that defines the certification requirements for hydraulic structures, based on recommendations from an expert panel that included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, steel fabricators, AISC certification staff, and auditors from an independent quality auditing firm. Information can be accessed at
Martin G. Kinnavy Headshot
Tension leveling pioneer
Martin G. Kinnavy, 99, a pioneer in the development of tension leveling, has died. During the early part of his career at Herr-Voss Corp., Kinnavy designed tension leveling technology for cold-rolled steel and aluminum. He was influential in roller leveling technology and contributed to the development of strand extensioner coil slitting lines. Kinnavy held the U.S. patent on a method of permanently elongating strip. This invention subsequently won patents in 11 other countries. He served as vice president of engineering at Herr-Voss. After retiring at 79 years old, he continued pursuing his interest in tension leveling for nearly 20 years.
Large roll of blue coated metal
Safety Award winners identified
The winners of the National Coil Coating Association’s 2020 Safety Award are American Metals in Cleveland; Novelis in Davenport, Iowa; and Steelscape in Kalama, Washington. NCCA annually recognizes coater member companies that show exceptional commitment to assuring workplace safety. The NCCA Safety Committee selected the three winning facilities from 51 nominated plants. The winners were selected on the basis of data reported to OSHA and committee interviews with the top nominees.
Specialty Metals installs ERP software
Specialty Metals, Kent, Washington, has gone live on Steel Manager III, an integrated ERP software built by 4GL Solutions, Stouffville, Ontario. It has also implemented Steel Manager III’s integrated barcoding module, material test report module, linear nesting program, SigmaNEST plate nesting integration module, and customer portal module.
Pat Pennington Headshot
Ben McCall Headshot
Plate distributor selects two new managers
Leeco Steel, Lisle, Illinois, promoted Pat Pennington to business development manager and Ben McCall to sales manager, South region. Pennington will work to develop value-added services for Leeco customers across the U.S. and Canada. McCall will manage and implement sales strategies customers in the South.