NEW YORK — Kloeckner Metals is taking a digital approach to sales in an effort to increase visibility into its supply chain as well as improve demand and pricing forecasts, a top company executive told AMM.
“Digital is a huge pillar of our forward strategy, but we are not losing sight of our core business. … The strategy is not just to shift to one or the other; the strategy is to grow both. We’re looking at digital as a growth engine as opposed to cannibalizing what we currently do,” according to John Ganem, Kloeckner’s executive vice president of corporate purchasing and who is slated to become chief executive officer on January 1.
The pace of the service center industry’s digital transformation will generally be dependent on steel customers and how quickly they will adapt to new sales channels, he said.
Kloeckner is gearing up for that transformation, whenever it occurs, with the rollout of its new website—called Kloeckner Direct—to customers this month, Ganem said.
The service center expects the new platform to facilitate more digital sales transactions by offering customers an online marketplace where they can see inventory and request a quote, according to Ganem. “This is an initial MVP (minimal viable product) with development continuing as user feedback is received.”
Kloeckner also is working with multiple core suppliers to digitally improve efficiencies on its procurement side. Electronic data interchange (EDI), which is not a new technology, is part of that focus but “we’re looking at things even bigger than that,” he said.
“We’re working on a number of different projects. … The steel mills are very aware of digital and have it on their radar. We’re bringing them the customer perspective, on what digital means and the tools and capabilities that we would like to see them develop,” Ganem noted.
The digital plan is part of a wider strategy at Kloeckner to create a “One US” culture that will unify the Roswell, Ga.-based company’s brand identity.
“We were a company built on acquisitions, and we want to create a single, streamlined identity with everyone working toward the same objective: To grow and prosper in our core business and to be successful in a digital environment,” according to Ganem, who previously worked at Macsteel Service Centers USA, which was acquired by Kloeckner in 2011.
Prior to the acquisition, Macsteel was mainly known for specializing in flat-rolled contract business, while Kloeckner predominantly focused on transactional deals in the plate and long products markets, he said.
“When we integrated Macsteel, we created business groups along those types of product lines,” Ganem said. “(Now) we want to be one company, not a flat-rolled company with a Macsteel company. We want to go to the market as Kloeckner.”
The subsidiary of Germany’s Klockner & Co. recently installed a new ultra-high-strength slitting line at its Greenville, S.C., facility to cater to its automotive customers, he said, noting that the equipment is expected to be operational in early October.
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.