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Columbus played big role in SDI's banner year


Mark Millett

Mark Millett


Harry Sanders

Harry Sanders



Slim Smith



For Steel Dynamics Inc., 2017 was a banner year, thanks in no small part to the success of its Columbus facility. 


During the company's fourth quarter and year-end conference call last week, SDI President and CEO Mark Millett noted the company's full-year net income had more than doubled from $446 million in 2016 to $803 million, while net sales increased from $7.8 billion to $9.5 billion in 2017. 


Millet said the success the company enjoyed came across all platforms and product lines, but singled out the Columbus facility, which Indiana-based SDI purchased from Severstal in 2014, as a key contributor. 


"We continue to gain market share, especially at the Columbus flat roll division with our focus on automotive direct sales," Millet said. "We also benefit there from a cost effective access into Mexico. 


"We, I think, shipped about 220,000 tons of automotive (steel) from Columbus just last year, which is a massive increase," he added. "And we're on platforms to increase that to about 400,000 tons over the next 18 months as new platforms come into play. Firstly, the capability of the mill down there and, then, we had a great team, I think is building confidence in the auto producers." 


Millet said the addition of a $100-million paint facility, which opened early in 2017, will further increase potential in Columbus. 


"On the Columbus side, our focus the past couple years has been more product development, product diversification, getting to new markets, and we're there today," Millet said. 


As a reward for their role in the company's success, SDI gave out $1,000 bonuses to all of its non-exempt employees in December, said Theresa Wagler, the company's chief financial officer. 


SDI's success isn't lost on local leaders who helped recruit the Severstal plant to the industrial park more than a decade ago. 


"I think they're doing a great job out there," said Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders. "I think that new paint line they added has helped them out. Anytime you can touch steel and add something without moving it, you add value, which I think is probably what has happened." 


Sanders and the board provided $1 million for SDI's $100-million expansion to provide rail service to the new paint line. He said that decision demonstrates the confidence the supervisors had in SDI after the company purchased the steel facility from Russia-based Severstal. 


"My first impression of (SDI) when they came in was pure relief," Sanders said. "They were more accessible than the Russians had been and understood us better. I think a lot of their success has to do with the work ethic of the workforce we have here in the South. They appreciate their employees and take care of them."


Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]



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