Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Investing in technology and people

The past few years Midland has invested heavily in technology; bringing greater efficiency and overall capability to our operation. While we realize the value such improvements provide in helping us to meet the needs of our customers, we are committed to not letting the new machinery on our shop floor overshadow our most important resource – the people who work for us.

Two and a half years ago Midland saw the wisdom in creating a Department of Human Resources and in hiring a full-time director to better service the needs and growth of our workforce. Today, while we are happy to retain the dedicated and loyal employees who have been with us for a number of years, we are actively seeking new talent to help prepare us for what we hope will be even better years ahead.

Our most pressing need is that of an East Coast based sales representative to better service existing accounts and eventually expand the East Coast market. Additionally, Midland Metal is searching for candidates for our Junior Designate Program (JDP) - Whereby we will select one or two individuals to learn all aspects of Midland’s operations so that this person(s) will eventually serve a key role in the organization. This will help build Midland’s bench strength.

If any of our readers are aware of someone with P-O-P roots who might be eligible for either position do not hesitate to direct them our way.

As always, we appreciate your commitment and support.


Bill Cox
Director of Human Resources
Midland Metal Products

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Job Fair

Bill Cox, Director of Human Resources at Midland, will be on hand at the Joliet Jr College Job Fair on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.

Hole Guide

This is a handy tool that our sample shop uses to determine hole sizes. It also includes a guide to sheet metal gauges. Click the image for full size, printable document - print it, fold it, and keep it in your pocket.

For your convenience I am including each chart as it's own image.

Steel Pricing - Looking Back and Going Forward

2008 began with a strong global demand for steel and a weak dollar but it climaxed with customers paying more for steel scrap than they had for prime cold-rolled steel just the year before. This disappointing turn of events was due to the global recession and steel producers headed into 2009 hoping they could weather the remainder of the storm.

Early August 2008 saw cold-rolled steel costs up by 72% since December 2007. At this time steel scrap (the most essential input in the production of new steel with the most volatile pricing) was selling for a market price of around $.38/lb; this was more than what Midland Metal Products was paying a year prior for the cold-rolled steel sheets that we process on our laser.

A steel-making ingredient costing more than the finished product had just one year previous is without precedent.

The steel industry, which had been soaring since fourth quarter of 2007, toppled as credit availability became scarce in the wake of crisis in the housing and financial markets.

Due to the country’s financial crisis projects requiring steel slowed significantly. Steel scrap, which had sold for $.38/lb in August, plummeted to $.21/lb in September. Steel prices followed and closed the year at only 11% higher than December 2007. This was down from 72% four months earlier.

In an effort to keep up with demand in the first half of 2008 steel mills ramped-up production - averaging 90% utilization. But when economic growth swiftly declined in late third quarter of 2008 the industry found itself with a surplus of supply and diminished demand. Steel producers spent the fourth quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009 waiting, their equipment idle, for better times. Throughout this period prices kept falling and steel mills saw their utilization drop to an average of 35%.

By June 2009 cold-rolled steel pricing had sunk to levels not seen since early 2004. This did prove to be the bottom as the market began to stabilize. Since June prices climbed quickly by 25%.

Demand for steel, though not robust, does presently exceed supply. This is due largely to the drastic production cuts steel mills had made when the market was in such steep decline. In an effort to keep up with the flow of new orders they are reactivating furnaces and equipment that have sat dormant all year.

Industry analysts expect that cold-rolled steel prices will continue to rise for the remainder of the year. 2009 will probably close 10% to 15% higher than current prices. If their predictions hold true we may head into 2010 with steel costs comparable to those at the start of 2007.

We hope that 2010 will be a stable year in the steel industry. Prices have returned to a level at which steel producers can run profitably without charging exorbitant rates to the distributors or end users. It will be nice if we can stay here for a while.

Aaron Blaisdell
Purchasing Manager

A letter from our Supreme Commander...

Thank you to everyone who read and responded with comments to our inaugural e-mail blast. There are so many things we can talk about from month to month in this space; so many new things are in the works that we want to share with you. Many people have responded to our first email and I think that in very short order we are going to have a very dynamic and active dialogue going here.

We will be updating everyone on the changes we are making at Midland - in new equipment, new personnel, and new ideas. I also want to take some time every so often to jump in and either “stir the pot” or respond to those who have taken the time to offer their two cents.

A few of our customers have, after receiving our last email, gone to our website and checked it out. Our veteran customers will remember our first web site which, for what it was, wasn’t bad. Our new one is so much better! We now have actual, professional managers in house who tend to the site to keep it timely and vital.

Those who did make it to our website saw that, like most other companies, we have published pictures of some of the things with which we have been honored to be involved. Some of you have asked why your projects were not in there. Believe me - we are more than happy to publish our cooperative efforts on our site. So send them in; we can’t have enough!! Email admin@midlandmetalproducts.com with your photos or just express permission to use photos that we take here.

It has always been my vision for the section of the web site we used to call “the partners page” (now the Portfolio section) to be crammed with as many things as we could get from our customers. To have it become sort of a clearing house for our customer. One thing about our web site is that we are listed under metal manufacturers for the display industry; as a result we get hits from all kinds of national advertisers, and retailers who want to do business with us directly. As many of you know, Midland DOES NOT GO DIRECT. We never have. Our partnership with companies such as yours always made so much sense to us as a simple business model; do what you do, partner with others who are experts in what they do, and the end user will get the best results.

We spend a great deal of time explaining to people that contact us, your potential customers, that they will get the best results from companies such as yours. You pull all the experts together, rely on their years of experience, and your vision for their product, and we are all heroes. The Portfolio section then could be presented geographically, and with links to your companies. So allow us to publish not only your pictures, but also full address, and contact info, along with a link to your web site. What do you think?

Enough for now, those of you who know me know I talk too much. I also write too much. I look forward to your feedback. We will be popping up in your email next month.

Also, a side note: I thought it was great that no one opted to not be contacted again - that’s encouraging. Later!

Bernie McDonald
Supreme Commander - Midland Metal Products