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Day and the Life of an Outside Sales Rep

At Metalwest our outside sales team is a huge part of our company. While our customers work closely with our inside sales representatives, the outside sales team is who they see on a monthly, weekly, or sometimes daily basis. They are essentially the face of Metalwest.

So, what does a typical day for an outside sales rep look like? Well, I went on a ride along with to find out.

My Ride Along with an Outside Sales Rep

I spent a day with John (JJ) Chojnowski, an outside sales rep for our Ogden, UT branch, to meet some customers and find out what exactly our outside sales reps do all day.

The day began with JJ reviewing our proposed schedule. The schedule included a good mix of key customers and potential accounts. He explained to me a little bit about what each company does and what our objective of visiting them was. Then we set off for our adventure… well, my adventure. It was just a typical day for JJ.

Customer Visits

Something I learned along the ride with JJ is that customers aren’t just customers. They are friends and family. At just about every stop we made he took the time to talk to the buyers about their families, projects they are working on outside of work, and their hobbies. He also made plans with several to get together outside of work.

He goes mountain biking with one customer on a regular basis; with another he takes boating trips.

I asked JJ if this was a common theme between outside sales reps and their customers. He said that many of our customers establish friendships with our outside and inside sales reps. It’s not just his selling technique, but an actual value that is shared throughout our company.

Customer Lunch

After a busy morning we met another customer for lunch. I half expected it to be another sales call just with food, but we hardly talked business. JJ had the customer tell me a little bit about what the company does and how business has been, but the remainder of lunch was spent growing the customer/sales rep relationship.

It was interesting to see how strong some of those relationships are.

Down Time

OK, so when I say “down time” I mean for me. We did spend a good portion of the day sitting in parking lots of random gas stations. After each stop JJ compiled his notes and would call the corresponding inside sales rep to discuss what happened at each customer visit. Because, while the outside sales representative is who the customer sees regularly, the relationship they have with the inside sales rep is just as important. I was impressed that he took the time to keep the inside sales rep in the loop almost in real time.

Coffee Breaks

I don’t personally drink coffee, but it provides fuel for an outside sales rep. And JJ in particular happens to be a huge coffee consumer. We had regular coffee stops to ensure he had the energy (although anyone who knows JJ knows he doesn’t necessarily need it) to make it through the day.

Ending the Day

The day ended with JJ reviewing all that took place during our “adventure.” He double, sometimes triple, checked he had all his notes submitted correctly, touched base with the inside sales team once more, and finished the last of his umpteenth cup of coffee.

Talking with Other Outside Sales Reps

Because I wanted to see how similar/different our outside sales reps are throughout the company, I talked to a few more reps to see what their favorite part of the job is and what the most challenging part of the job is.

Brooke Murray, outside sales rep for the Texas Region

“My favorite part of being in outside sales is meeting new people every day and learning and seeing how products are made using the material we sell. The most challenging part is trying to break into a new account when the buyer is even-keeled with their current supplier.”

Evan Skinner, outside sales rep for the Midwest Region

“The best part of the job is the relationships you make with customers. Many times you even become friends. The most challenging part is getting a foot in the door at an account that is happy with their current supplier. It takes patience as well as the ability to take rejection. Many people are not able to handle rejection.”

John Ripp, outside sales rep for the Northeast Region

“My favorite part of being in outside sales is the interaction I have with different customers and different types of people every day. No day is the same as the last, which I really enjoy. I enjoy every surprise and experience this job presents to me. The most challenging part of this job is to not get down on yourself or be too disappointed. When you’re in a position like I am in and have to build a territory, you will have a lot of doors shut in your face and a lot of rejections. This was tough in the beginning, but as I grew in my position I learned that I just had to treat each day like it’s a brand new opportunity.”

What I learned

After a full day of meeting customers and observing the transactions, I learned that customer/sales rep relationships are extremely important. This makes total sense seeing as how Metalwest was built on the principle that we are not just about steel.

I also learned that it is a team effort. The outside sales team couldn’t do it without the help of the inside sales team, the warehouse employees, truck drivers, and the rest of the support staff… even if they sometimes think they can.

Another thing I learned was that outside sales reps don’t get near as many steps in a day as I assumed. I wore my step tracker and ended up with only a few hundred more steps than I normally do while working a regular day in my office.

But in all seriousness, it was a great adventure. We have some great customers and our sales reps work hard every day to ensure our customers are happy.

Learn more about Metalwest here.

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Trade Case Toolbox: Trade Actions Available to Steelmakers

With news of trade cases filling steel industry media outlets it is important to understand exactly what a trade case is and the different trade actions the U.S. steel industry has available to it regarding international commerce.

In a previous post we discussed a brief background on steel trade cases as well as recent activity. In this post we will expound upon that by going into more detail about the different types of trade actions and provide another update on recent activity.

201, 232, 301, 332, 337. So, what do all these numbers mean?

Section 201

Trade Act of 1974

Section 201 allows domestic industries who have been seriously injured or threatened with serious injury by increased imports to petition the International Trade Commission (ITC) for import relief. If the ITC makes an affirmative decision it recommends a solution to prevent or resolve the injury and facilitate industry adjustment to import competition. The President makes the final decision whether to provide relief and the amount of said relief.

A 201 is probably the most commonly known trade action for steelmakers besides anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases.

Section 232

Trade Expansion Act of 1962

Section 232 investigations are used to determine the impact of imports on national security. Congress grants the President unprecedented authority to negotiate tariff reductions up to 50%. The Department of Commerce conducts an investigation on the imports and then makes recommendations to the President. The President then decides if he (or she) agrees and adjusts the imports.

Section 301

Trade Act of 1974

Section 301 is used to enforce trade agreements, resolve trade disputes, and open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services. It was designed to eliminate unfair foreign trade practices that have an adverse effect on U.S. trade. The President determines whether the alleged practices are unjustifiable, unreasonable, or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. If he (or she) decides action is necessary, the law directs that all appropriate action within the President’s power be taken.

Section 332

Tariff Act of 1930

The ITC investigates international trade, tariffs, and competition between the U.S. and foreign industries under section 332. The investigations and reports do not contain recommendations unless they have been specifically requested and do not provide a legal basis for other trade actions by the President.

Section 337

Tariff Act of 1930

The ITC, under section 337, determines whether there is unfair competition in the importation of products into the U.S. It declares infringement of a U.S. patent, copyright, registered trademark, or mask work to be an unlawful practice in import trade. It also declares that unlawful other unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation of products in the U.S., the treat of which is to destroy or substantially injure a domestic industry, prevent establishment of such industry, or monopolize trade and commerce in the U.S.

Now that we have discussed the complicated part, here is a summary of the trade cases that have been filed. Final DOC and ITC anti-dumping and countervailing duty rulings:

  • ITC ruled in the affirmative the final determinations of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on corrosion resistant material for China, India, Italy, Korea, and Taiwan.
  • ITC also ruled in the affirmative the final determinations of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on cold rolled steel for Brazil, China, India, Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom, but ruled to the negative for Russia.
  • ITC also ruled in the affirmative the final determinations of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on hot rolled steel for Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
  • Preliminary determinations by both the ITC and DOC for stainless steel against China have been made with final determinations expected by January 2017.
  • U.S. Steel Corp., sought to have a Section 337 investigation by the ITC completed by Nov. 2, 2017, targeting Chinese mills back in August. It also proposed a single, 10-day evidentiary hearing on all claims in the case and no phased discovery process.
  • U.S. Steel Corp., gets 21-month time line for its Section 337 investigation targeting Chinese steelmakers.
  • The ITC found 14 Chinese companies are in default in the pending Section 337 investigation initiated by U.S. Steel Corp.

Contact your local sales representative or reference the ITC website trade.gov for more information.

school supplies

Steel in School: What it is Used For

It is back to school time for most of the country and that means school supplies, new classrooms, a new locker assignment, and the start of extracurricular activities. So, what does this have to do with steel? Well, lot’s actually!
Steel is used in a multitude of everyday objects, including school-related items.

School Supplies

While it is typically not used in a large quantity in school supplies, steel can still be found on quite a few items, including:

  • Notebooks
  • Pencil boxes
  • Around pencil erasers
  • Tape dispensers
  • Staplers
  • Teachers’ paper boxes
  • Water bottles

In the Classroom

Steel is also found throughout classrooms, whether it be a chemistry lab, biology classroom, or an English classroom. Places in a classroom you might find steel, include:

  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • The boarder around chalkboards, whiteboards, and bulletin boards
  • Window frames
  • Shelves
  • Lab equipment

Lockers

Lockers are completely constructed of steel (besides the combination dial). However you decorate (or decorated back in the day) your locker, it is all enhancing the chipped or faded paint covering the steel.

Extracurricular Activities

Steel can also be found in some extracurricular activities. Whether it is in sporting equipment like a tennis racket, a basketball hoop, a soccer goal, or even the bleachers, or you participate in service organizations, academic teams or clubs, steel can be found just about anywhere you look.

So now that you have a backpack filled with school supplies and are about to set off to find those new classrooms, you’ll know that steel is a big part of everyday life, even in school.

To learn more about the types of steel Metalwest offers, contact your local sales representative.

Safety Binders: Employee Safety Series

At Metalwest we are working to replace chain load binders with safety binders and/or ratcheting load binders to help our drivers more safely secure coils during transport.

Throughout the steel and manufacturing industries there have been many close calls and injuries that occur due to the old chain lever binders that were in use. Because employee safety is important to all of us, these close calls and injuries have proven it was time for Metalwest to switch to better technology.

Safety Release Lever Binder

The safety release lever binder is safer than other lever style load binders. They allow the user to release the binder tension without any kick back from the handle, which was a common issue with the standard lever chain binders.

Ratcheting Load Binders

Ratcheting load binders are also a safer alternative to standard lever style load binders. They help to reduce force to your body. Both options do not need a cheater bar to be utilized.

Cheater bars can be a dangerous tool. While tightening with a cheater bar it requires a lot more force and the bar can kick back onto the individual’s body. Loosening can also be dangerous. Loosening a chain with a cheater bar on a standard lever style load binder can cause the cheater bar to ricochet either back to the person operating the binder, to nearby material or equipment, or to another person in the surrounding area. All of these reasons are why we are requiring the other two style binders for our employees to use.

We want all of our employees to make it home every night to their families. At Metalwest we believe in taking extra steps and precautions to ensure everyone makes it home the way they came in in the morning. After all, we are Beyond Metal.

Special contributor: David Suchey, corporate safety manager

Aluminum Trailers

It’s officially summer and that means camping, fairs, rodeos, and farmer’s markets. But, what do all of these activities have in common? Trailers. And not just trailers, but aluminum trailers.

There are a few different types of aluminum trailers: travel trailers, toy haulers, horse/livestock trailers, cargo trailers, and food/concession truck trailers.

aluminum travel trailerTravel Trailers

Hitting the open road or escaping to the mountains any time soon? Many RVs, campers, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, and pop-up trailers have some sort of aluminum used in the body. Whether it is a frame made from extrusions and beams or the exterior shell made of sheet, aluminum is a light-weight material that makes it easier to haul behind a vehicle.

Toy Haulers

Heading up to a race track or hauling your four wheeler up to the mountains this weekend? A toy hauler makes it easy. Many toy haulers feature an all-aluminum frame as well as an aluminum sheet constructed roof and sides.

Aluminum Horse TrailersHorse/Livestock Trailers

Do you plan on attending any rodeos this summer? Chances are pretty high that the animals were hauled in an all-aluminum constructed horse/livestock trailer. An all-aluminum construction gives the trailer durability and keeps them lightweight. Both are positive attributes when dealing with larger animals.

Cargo Trailers

Fairs, carnivals, and city celebrations tend to have their fair share of pop-up stages, rides, and games. While you are busy checking out all these attractions, take a look around. You are bound to also find an abundance of cargo and utility trailers. Cargo trailers are largely constructed of aluminum because it is lightweight and durable. Cargo trailers can also be used for many different jobs.

aluminum food truck

Photo Credit: John Bule, “Bite into Maine food truck” 2014

Food/Concession Truck Trailers

Many events you will attend this summer are bound to have a food truck or concession truck. It is also possible the truck is constructed of aluminum. Because many food truck/concession stand owners want to be able to be on the go and travel wherever they please, they look for low-cost and durability. This makes aluminum the perfect material to use for these types of trucks.

For more information on how Metalwest serves the truck trailer industry, contact your local sales representative to find the best material for your project.

Stainless Steel Grills

The summer season is here and that means it is time to break out the grill. There are many different types of grills: charcoal, gas, electric, fire-pit style, etc., as well as many different manufacturers, price tags, sizes, etc. Grills are also made out of a variety of different metals. But one of the most common metals used is stainless steel.

Stainless Steel Grills

Stainless steel is a popular choice for grills for a few reasons.

  1. Well, it looks good. Stainless steel has a stigma attached to it that it is a high-end product and that stigma is mostly right. Your refrigerator looks fancier, your toaster looks fancier, and your grill looks fancier. If you keep it clean it sparkles and shines. A stainless steel grill definitely catches peoples’ attention.
  2. It’s easy to clean. Stainless steel isn’t dust, dirt, grease, or water-spot resistant, but it is easy to clean off the spots and make your grill shine again. Here are three ways to clean stainless steel appliances.
  3. It’s corrosion resistant. While there are different grades of stainless used for stainless steel grills and each grade has different levels of corrosion resistance, stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance. This is because chromium is added to the steel and reacts with oxygen to form chromium oxide. This gives it its corrosion resistant properties. Learn more about how stainless steel is made.
  4. Because of its corrosion resistance, it is also one of the most sanitary steels. Stainless is commonly used for food service equipment, medical equipment, processing equipment, etc., because of its sanitary benefits.

300 series stainless vs. 400 series stainless

Just because a grill (or other appliance) is stainless, does not mean it is a higher-quality product. A high-quality stainless steel grill is typically made from 300 series stainless grades, specifically 304 stainless. Because it has a higher nickel content and less steel in the alloy, 304 is higher quality and generally higher cost.

You will find 300 series stainless steel used for high-end grills. If you are unsure if the grill you are picking out is 300 series stainless, try the magnetic test. If the magnet sticks to the product, it is not a 304-grade stainless steel grill.

However, don’t be worried about purchasing a 400 series stainless steel grill. It is what fits within most people’s budgets and many grill manufacturers have changed to the 400 series to lower costs. Just make sure you do your research.

If you are choosing a 430-grade stainless grill, make sure you look for heavier gauge construction throughout. That will ensure it is holds up longer. Some manufactures also mix stainless grades in their construction. The lid may be a 304-grade, but the base might be 430.

If all else fails, wherever you are purchasing your grill from should have an expert to talk to.

For more information on the best stainless steel for your application contact your local sales representative.

Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? It Depends.

Have you ever wondered why you can stick a magnet on one stainless steel fridge, but not another? They are both stainless steel, so why doesn’t it stick to both? Well, the answer is in the makeup of the steel. So, let’s see if stainless steel is magnetic.

Is Stainless Steel Magnetic? The Type of Stainless Plays a Role

Ferritic

There are different families of stainless steel and all have different physical properties. A less expensive stainless steel would be considered a ferritic steel. Ferritic stainless steels typically have better engineering properties than their counterpart, austenitic, but have reduced corrosion resistance due to lower nickel and chromium content. This makes ferritic stainless steel magnetic.

Ferritic steels provide an advantage in many applications in which thinner materials or reduced weight are required. They are also non-hardenable by heat treating.

Typical applications for ferritic stainless steels include automotive and truck exhaust systems, catalytic converters, agricultural spreaders, heat exchangers, kitchen equipment, and roofing just to name a few.

Ferritic metals are classified in the 400 series. At Metalwest we commonly stock 409 stainless and 430 stainless steel products.

Austenitic

Austenitic stainless steels are the more common types of stainless. These grades have higher chromium and nickel content. The higher nickel content makes austenitic grades non-magnetic.

Austenitic steels are similarly non-hardenable by heat treating, but also have excellent formability and higher corrosion resistance.

These type of steels are commonly used for kitchen equipment, appliances, automotive trim, architectural applications, chemical equipment, pharmaceutical equipment, and much more.

Austenitic stainless steels are classified in the 200 and 300 series. At Metalwest we commonly stock 201 stainless, 301 stainless, 304/304L stainless, and 316/316L stainless steel products.

So, the next time you are shopping for a refrigerator be sure to bring a magnet. Higher quality (and typically more expensive) stainless steel appliances will not hold your alphabet magnet set. But unless you plan on placing your fridge out in the elements, you will most likely get along just fine with a ferritic stainless steel appliance. It’s still stainless after all.

For more information about our stainless steel products, contact your local sales representative.

Reflective Uniforms: Employee Safety Series

ofr metals truck driverOur “Employee Safety Series” aims to highlight initiatives that the team at Metalwest is working on to make our work environment safe. Safety is one of our top priorities and it is important to ensure our employees have the right protective gear, tools, and knowledge to do their jobs safely.

At Metalwest we are taking a proactive approach to ensure our employees are highly visible when working in high-traffic areas and while assisting in the unloading/loading process. To assist with this initiative, Metalwest drivers are now being provided with high-visibility/reflective uniforms.

“Most of the time we see our drivers back at the office or in the shop,” said David Suchey, safety manager for Metalwest. “But we often forget that they don’t always work in such controlled environments as our facilities.”

High-Visibility/Reflective Uniforms

High-visibility/reflective uniforms are worn to help attract the attention of other truck drivers, forklift operators, crane operators and any other possible human-operated hazards. Many of the warehouses and facilities we deliver to have lower lighting that can make it difficult to see an individual walking around. Drivers also face the hazard of blind corners around many loading/unloading docks. Reflective uniforms help to minimize the risk of an accident.

“Our company cares about our drivers and we want to remain proactive about their safety out in the field,” said Suchey. “They have difficult jobs to do and making them visible at all times during the day will help ensure their safety when they are working outside of their truck.”

Driver feedback has been good, overall, according to Suchey. Metalwest is still working on supplying the uniforms to all locations. All branches should have the proper uniforms supplied by the end of the second quarter this year.

“I heard a really impactful quote that pertains to our efforts in this area, ‘The people we are working for are waiting for us to come home,’” Suchey added. “This is why we want our drivers to remain visible, their families and friends need them to come home every night.”

Check back to the Beyond Metal Buzz for more safety updates.

How is Spiral Duct Made?

Have you ever found yourself staring at exposed spiral duct work and wonder how it was made? If your answer was no I guess you can stop reading, but it is a pretty interesting process. If your answer was yes, continue reading to find out.

While spiral duct isn’t something we manufacture at Metalwest, HVAC is a common industry we service. So, why not delve into the process behind one of our serviceable industries?

Materials

To discover how spiral duct is made we must first cover the basics, or in other words, the materials.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized steel is the most common material used for ductwork. Galvanized steel is ideal for ductwork because it is corrosion resistant and can withstand higher temperatures.

Aluminum

Aluminum sheet is used for ductwork because of its high strength and light weight. Lightweight pieces of duct can span longer distances without the need for supports. It is also flexible, which means it can be stretched and bent multiple times, but still hold an airtight seal.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel ductwork is used more frequently in laboratories due to its sanitary benefits as well as its corrosion resistance to harsh substances. It also has greater strength than aluminum and is abrasion resistant.

The Spiral Duct Process

There are three parts to the spiral duct process. The first starts with the mill and the making of the raw steel (here are some posts on how galvanized, aluminum, and stainless steel are made).

The second part consists of Metalwest receiving coils from the mills and processing them into slit coils. Slit coils are narrower coils cut from a larger master coil (you can read more about it here).

These slit coils are sent to customers per the required specifications and processed into spiral duct, bringing us to the third part of the process.

The Spiral Duct Fabrication Process

Once a customer receives the slit coil it is placed on an uncoiler and sent through a rough leveler to flatten the material. It is then sent through an edge trimmer and formed.

The forming process sends the strip through an inner and outer welding stage that moves it in a circular motion to form a spiral. The edges are welded or pinched together to form the duct piece. It is then cut from the machine at the desired length, inspected, tested, and then sent on be installed.

Here is a video example of the spiral duct process.

The finished spiral duct (in some cases it goes on to be painted) is then installed in commercial buildings such as warehouses, medical facilities, restaurants, schools, etc. So the next time you find yourself staring at exposed ductwork while sipping on a caramel macchiato, you will know how it was made.

For more information about the materials used for spiral duct contact your local sales representative.

Metal Garden Tools

March is a time of year when the snow starts to melt, tulips begin to blossom, and your yard is a dirty mess. Spring cleanup can be the worst part of yard work. You have to deal with leaves everywhere, matted down grass, and, in some cases, pet messes every few feet.

With all these messes around your yard it is likely you will be reaching for a rake, shovel, hand garden tools, and possibly even a lawn mower. Did you know many of these tools commonly use steel?

Let’s take a look at some metal garden tools, shall we?

Metal Garden Tools

Rakes

Metal lawn rakes, also known as leaf rakes, are generally made from metal or plastic. There are pros and cons to both, but let’s take a look at metal rakes.

Metal is more resilient, but can cost more money than a plastic rake. They feature either a wooden or metal handle as well as a flexible metal rake head. The metal tines on the rake head are fashioned into a fan shape and angle slightly downward to easily grab leaves.

There are a few different types of steel used for metal rakes. You can find rakes made from light gauge aluminum, as well as light gauge galvanized and other types of carbon steel.

Another metal garden tool includes bow rakes. Bow rakes are used for heavier materials than leaves and are great for leveling dirt, sand, mulch, or gravel. The tines are shorter and thicker than the leaf rake, but are also made of metal. A heavy-gauge carbon is typically used for the rake head, but they can have wood, metal, or plastic handles.

Other rakes that use metal include: shrub rakes, thatch rakes, and hand rakes.

Shovels

Embed from Getty Images

As we mentioned in a previous post, Winter Uses for Steel, shovels are commonly made from steel. Steel provides a durable, long lasting quality to garden tools, which is why it is the ideal material for a garden shovel.

Chances are you have a digging shovel or two in your garage or shed. These kinds of shovels are used for digging, planting, and allow for transplanting small bushes and plants. They are also great for cutting sod and small roots. Digging shovels are most commonly made from a heavy-gauge carbon steel, however you can find them in aluminum as well (typically used for smaller jobs).

Garden trowels and soil scoops are also commonly made from steel. If you plan on potting small plants, spot reseeding, or doing any other minor gardening task, trowels and scoops are the tools to use. Because these are used for lighter tasks, they are also frequently constructed using plastic. However, steel trowels and scoops are more durable and last longer.

Lawn Mowers

After you have raked your lawn and the grass has turned green it is time to trim it. Lawn mowers come in many different sizes depending on the job; you may have a small reel mower, a rotary mower, or even a ride-on mower.

Whichever type of mower you have, it contains metal parts. Major components that are made from metal are the mower pan, handlebar, engine, and blades. Depending on the type of lawn mower, the cover might also be made from metal, but they are also commonly constructed of plastic.