Q & A: The General Managers of OFR Metals

The General Managers Part Two

Recently we introduced you to two of our general managers (GMs), Calene and Seth, in a candid Q&A session. Well, we are at it again with two more GMs. I’d like to introduce you to Jeff Katz and Derek Lindeberg.

Jeff Katz, general managers, northeastJeff Katz is the GM for the Northeast Region, covering New Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut. Jeff has worked for OFR Metals for fourteen years.

derek lindeberg, general managers, texasDerek Lindeberg is the GM for the Texas Region. Derek has been with OFR Metals since Nov. 4, 2013, but has been in the industry for over 20 years.

What is a typical day like as a general manager for OFR Metals?

JK: My day usually starts the evening before when we recap the day’s events and set priorities for the coming days. During my morning drive to the office, I like to start by talking with some of the OSRs about the best opportunities we are working on. Once at the office, I take a quick walk around the facility to make sure everyone is feeling good and on track for the day. Next, we have our morning huddle with sales and operations to review our progress and objectives for the day. I try to stay focused on clearing obstacles, working with major accounts, and making sure we are progressing on our longer term goals. You must have a great strategy, but executing on the plan is where the heart pumping action is. No matter how much planning is done, you can bet that there will be a few surprises and you need to stay flexible, nimble, positive, and focused on the big picture.

DL: I am typically in a lot of meetings discussing pertinent issues to our business. There are always sales opportunities to evaluate, customers to talk with, continuous-improvement projects, issues to be resolved etc., that keep my days busy.

Company culture is important to OFR Metals as a company, its employees, and future hires. How would you describe the culture of OFR?

JK: There is a great team spirit here. That attitude starts at the very top of [O’Neal Industries (ONI)]. Our company’s values, like honesty and integrity, respect for each other, and community service, set a tone that radiates through all decisions. We all have jobs to do, but ONI recognizes that we are all human with families, personal goals, and special talents. You know that the company will support you in reaching your potential. As an employee, you are not treated like an anonymous number. Our employee benefits and other programs demonstrate that ONI cares about its employees.

DL: We practice and encourage a lot of collaboration. So, I would say our culture is very open, non-confrontational, high-energy, and really geared around always thinking about how we can improve our business.

Obviously no job is all sunshine and roses. What is the biggest struggle you have experienced working at OFR? Has it had any impact on where you are today?

JK: We provide outstanding products and services. So, it can be frustrating when a buyer’s decision boils down to just the lowest price when we have much more to offer. I try to emphasize that we need to be proud of the service we provide, the company we represent, and the value we bring to our customers. We need to promote all the good work that we view as the right and natural way to do things.

DL: The margin for error in our line of business is thin with the pricing pressure we are constantly under. So, I struggle with minimizing and limiting our exposure to mistakes that erode our profitability. This will always be a work in progress, but I believe we continue to improve our processes and controls and have been pleased with our progress.

Did you have any role models (famous or not) that had an influence on where you are today? Who are they and how did they help you get here?

JK: I‘d have to say the traditional values of being grateful for everyday and everything is where I start each day. On a more earthly scale, Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is one of my favorite personal development books.

DL: My father comes to mind first and foremost. He showed me the habits I would need to be successful, including hard work, focus on results, being dedicated to the company you work for, and making sure the quality of work is performed at a high level.

The bottom line to what OFR values and believes is our customers and their success. In your opinion how does doing business with OFR help our customers succeed?

JK: First it is our integrity as a company. We maintain ISO standards, provide a high-quality product and excellent service at a competitive price. When you choose OFR Metals as your material supplier you can expect quality products and services, and you will have less to worry about. We know there will be bumps in the road, but we will help you work through it and we will never run from a problem. We know that if we can help our customers to prosper, we will grow with them. That’s the win/win we are striving for.

DL: We are focused on a high level of execution from answering the phone call of the customer to our driver delivering the final product to the customer’s door. I believe customers in this day and age are most interested in suppliers that can provide knowledgeable, reliable, consistent, and quick service that keeps disruptions to their businesses to a minimum. By providing those service attributes better than the competition, our customers, and OFR Metals, will be more successful because we will be providing better value overall, especially over the medium and long-term.

What do you want to most be remembered for at OFR Metals?

JK: I would like to be remembered for the successes, the fun, our accomplishments, and the people that I helped develop in their careers. Helping someone grow to their potential and achieve success, maybe even beyond what they might have imagined, is one of the most satisfying parts of the job.

DL: I’d like to be most remembered for helping professionally develop employees at OFR Metals and helping promote a work environment for all our employees that they find comfortable and stimulating.

We have heard from four OFR Metals general managers. That means we have three more to go. Check back for more interviews.

What China is Doing to the Steel Market

Everyone knows that steel prices are soft. 2015 promised to be a strong manufacturing year, yet steel prices continue to remain soft. There are many factors contributing to this market and we’ve been discussing them on this blog for the past couple of months. We’ve talked about the effect of low oil prices and a strong dollar, we’ve looked at changing trends in the technology of metals, now it’s time to discuss the global impact of steel prices.

China’s Impact on the Steel Market

Again, there are a lot of things going on globally that are impacting the price of steel. Today, we’ll work on the issues arising from China (its economy, exchange rate, etc.). Keep in mind these are just some of the most apparent impacts that we are seeing from China and this list is in no way exhaustive.

China impact on steel marketChina’s Growth is Estimated To Be Around 7% This Year

Considering the U.S. growth rate logged in at 2.2% annually in fourth quarter of 2014 (BEA, 2015), 7% doesn’t seem to be so poor for the world’s second largest economy. Unfortunately for the steel market, that is a 25 year low for China. Slow growth, combined with an oversupply in the mills means that the global market for steel is in surplus and domestic U.S. players are seeing the results of global surplus with iron ore under $60 a ton and steel prices not faring any better.

Value of the Chinese Currency

Chinese currency (referred to as the renminbi or yuan) has (like most currencies) depreciated against the dollar. Despite alleged currency manipulation from China the latest depreciation of the yuan against the dollar is more disturbing because it is a global trend with currencies around the world depreciating. While this is fabulous news for U.S. travelers and exporters, the steel market is being flooded with cheap imports, particularly from China. Mills globally are turning to strong U.S. manufacturing and to added profits from a strong U.S. dollar to stave off the effects of a globally weak steel market (BEA, 2015).

Chinese Anti-Pollution Policies

Aggressive anti-pollution policies have shut down major steel mills in large cities in China. These shut-downs have had an impact on demand for iron ore and have had an impact on the rest of the supply chain. While beneficial to the Chinese air quality, there is no doubt that pricing has been impacted due to the changed supply-chain dynamics.

These are just three issues from China that are impacting the market for steel in the U.S. second quarter should help the global market determine future growth pockets globally. China, at least, hopes to see manufacturing demand pick up before the summer peak. Meanwhile, OFR Metals will continue to monitor the market and keep its customers abreast of the changing conditions.

What impacts have you seen in your business because of the global influence of the steel market?

Electro-Galvanized Steel: What it is Used For

What Electro-Galvanized is Used For

Electro-galvanized steel is obtained through an electrochemical process that involves the steel being submerged in a zinc bath. The end product is corrosion resistant, has excellent formability, paintability, and weldability, and is strong and durable. These features make electro-galvanized a high-quality product. But, what is it used for?

Cars, electro-galvanized automotive

Cars and Coffee by Irvine Axion

Automotive

Due to the strength, corrosion resistance, and paintability, electro-galvanized steel is widely used in the automotive industry. You can find it in car doors, fenders, hoods, and even audio systems and gas tanks depending on the manufacturer.

Agricultural Equipment

The strength also makes electro-galvanized steel ideal for agricultural equipment and products. It is used in the hardware for livestock fencing as well as in the heavy machinery on farms. The metal has to be strong to hold livestock or plow through fields.

electro-galvanized appliances

Photo by Goedecker’s-Modified

Appliances and Electrical Equipment

But let’s talk about an application where the average person may see this material. Chances are you also have something containing electro-galvanized metal in your home. Appliances and electrical equipment typically include stamped electro-galvanized parts. This might include your washer and dryer, your refrigerator, electrical boxes, DVD/Blu-ray players, and enclosures. The material is easily welded and formed, making it ideal for household appliances and electrical equipment.

Do you have another use for electro-galvanized steel? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.