A Texas-Sized GCC Convention

This week’s Industry Voices was written by Kent Kiser.

ISRI’s Gulf Coast Chapter’s summer convention in San Antonio, Texas, posted results befitting the large state, including record attendance of 691 registrants, 196 participants in the golf tournament, and 75 exhibitors in its expo. Held June 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa, the event was the first and largest ISRI chapter convention since the COVID-19 pandemic. The event showed how much ISRI members missed connecting with their colleagues.

The GCC convention gave attendees many networking and social opportunities. The event offered five receptions, including a welcome dessert reception hosted by ISRI’s Women in Recycling Council, a private event to thank the convention’s sponsors, opening and closing gatherings in the expo hall, and an after-hours networking reception with live entertainment.

Attendees had some fun and friendly competition at the convention’s golf tournament, held over 27 holes of the Hyatt Regency Hill Country golf course. This annual tournament, which raises funds for the GCC scholarship fund, had record participation and raised roughly $15,000 for future scholarships. The tournament’s 27-hole sponsors, three tent sponsors, and sponsors for longest drive and closest-to-the-hole provided key financial support.

The convention’s full day of educational content brought attendees together to honor industry veterans. The chapter kicked things off by recognizing Mel Wright, Wright’s Scrap Metals, and Vicki Roche, Gerdau AmeriSteel, with the 2020 and 2021 Israel Proler Award, respectively.

The day segued into three market-focused sessions, beginning with a keynote address by Russell Rinn, president and CEO of OmniSource, LLC. Rinn discussed the new steel mill that Steel Dynamics, Inc. (SDI), OmniSource’s parent company, is building in Sinton, Texas. SDI plans to begin production this year and reach full production in 2022. This $2 billion mill will produce 3 million tons of hot-rolled coil and require 2 million tons of ferrous scrap annually. OmniSource, SDI’s scrap-buying agent, likely will handle 6 million tons of ferrous scrap and 1.2 to 1.4 million tons of nonferrous scrap in 2021, he noted.

Rinn also discussed how a federal infrastructure project would be a boon to the domestic steel industry in the big picture, but the possible lifting of tariffs on imported steel products would impede progress. China could transform the global ferrous scrap market if environmental concerns prompt it to shift its steel production from blast-oxygen furnaces, which use small amounts of ferrous scrap, to electric-arc furnaces, which can be 100% scrap-fed.

The session How to Navigate Commodities Guide—Argus Media Panel focused on price reporting agencies (PRAs), which report on physical commodity markets and provide additional services including news, analysis, commentaries, historical databases, white papers, consulting, analytical tools, and exchange data. It featured three representatives from Argus Media: Jennifer Betts, VP business development, metals, Blake Hurtik, editor, and John Betz, senior aluminum reporter. They advised recyclers to use more than one PRA to get the broadest and most helpful information and services. They also reviewed how they create price assessments for recycled commodities. They encouraged recyclers to provide PRAs with information to ensure the assessments are accurate, comprehensive, and provide the most value to them.

The final session, Copper, Aluminum and Stainless Panel, examined the dynamics in the aluminum, copper and stainless steel markets. The session featured several panelists: David Rosenblum, vice president of non-ferrous sales at Omisource; Rob Kraemer, procurement manager for scrap & primary at Hydro Aluminum Metals; Janet Sander, vice president, purchasing at Encore Wire Corp.; and Matt Graceffa, trader for Allied Alloys. Virtually all commodity and product sectors are experiencing strong demand to refill depleted supply pipelines in, but logistical problems and labor shortages are creating delays, they noted. As a result, recyclers have become more flexible in their operations and could prompt them to include more details on freight risk and costs in their future contracts.

Photos of this year’s GCC convention can be found here. Mark your calendar for next year’s event, June 21-24, 2022, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Be sure to come out and join us!

All photos courtesy of ISRI’s Gulf Coast Chapter.