Steel operations in Florida are gearing up to face the destructive power of Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm that is currently expected to make landfall in the southeastern US state on September 10.
Steel Resources LLC, a Miami-based company specializing in steel trading, closed its office midday on September 7 and remained closed on Friday, according to commercial director Alberto Dahbura.
“We’re still operating, but in a limited way and under a lot of stress,” he said, noting that staff will be working remotely in the coming days. “Customers understand that we have this situation, and they’re booking orders.”
Similarly, Continental Steel & Tube Co., a specialty metals supplier with a distribution center in Miami,on Thursday closed its office until further notice. “I’m working from Maryland,” company founder Don Ascione told AMM via e-mail.
Kloeckner Metals also began closing its four facilities in Florida around midday on September 7, as well as its location in Charleston, S.C., according to Warren Daubenspeck, corporate vice president of safety. The company intends to keep the operations closed through September 11, he said. The Florida facilities mainly specialize in structural and heavy carbon products, and the Charleston location handles mostly flat-rolled products, he noted.
“We started looking at our emergency plans (in the early part of the week of September 4), giving our employees instructions and opening up lines of communications,” Daubenspeck told AMM. “We also took some precautions, depending on the location—moving important documents, equipment and materials to mitigate damage.”
The Roswell, Ga.-based steel service center has set up dial-in numbers for employee communications, as well as a relief fund for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, he added. “We’ll be monitoring the storm as it heads north. … If further actions are required, we will address that in Georgia and South Carolina if (Irma) gets up that far.”
In addition, Valmont Industries Inc. closed its coated steel production location in Miami on September 8 in preparation for the storm, although none of its other facilities—including its Tampa location—have been closed, according to Richard Cornish, president of Valmont’s global coatings segment.
“(Reopening will) just depend how the hurricane comes to be,” he told AMM. “We plan to be back in
operation as soon as possible, so Monday or Tuesday (September 11 or 12). We still have people there even today—going through normal preparations for whenever significant weather comes through.”
However, not all steel operations followed suit. Steel distributor Alro Steel Corp., which oversees nine locations in Florida, was slated to remain open September 7-8, according to Eddie Gomez, sales manager of the Boca Raton branch.
“We will be open through (September 8) and then will be making adjustments after that,” he told AMM. “We have 85,000 feet under roof in the Boca Raton branch alone, and all of our material is normally kept indoors.”
The Florida ports of Miami, Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Tampa, as well as Port Everglades, Port Manatee, Port Canaveral and all ports in Key West, are open with restrictions, Inchcape Shipping Services said on September 8. The port of Savannah, Ga., also is open with restrictions, the maritime services provider said. Meanwhile, the ports of Pensacola and Panama City, Fla., as well as the ports of Charleston; Wilmington, N.C.; and Hampton Roads, Va., are open, it added.
Just last week, Hurricane Harvey paralyzed metals-related commerce in and around the Houston area, with steel mills, pipe yards, ports and ground transportation forced to temporarily halt operations. Steel market participants were divided on Harvey’s potential impact on supply and prices, with some expecting prices to increase as a result while others indicated that the hurricane’s impact has been overblown.
US hot-rolled coil prices were generally flat at $31.55 per hundredweight ($631 per ton) fob Midwest mill on September 7, according to AMM’s assessment, only marginally higher than the previous week’s $31.53 per cwt.
Steven Nghe is currently the Head of Marketing & Communications at Kloeckner Metals. Nghe is a marketing professional with more than 14 years of experience in various environments and industries. His goal is to tell you about the sexy side of steel. Nghe holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from North Carolina State University. Prior to Kloeckner, Nghe worked for Delta Dental, Wells Real Estate Funds, Georgia Institute of Technology and Doosan.