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Norfolk Iron & Metal to Acquire O’Neal Flat Rolled Metals from O’Neal Industries

BIRMINGHAM, AL and NORFOLK, NE, November 15, 2018 — Norfolk Iron & Metal Co. (Norfolk Iron), a full-line steel service center, and O’Neal Industries Inc. (ONI), the largest family owned group of metals service centers in the United States, today jointly announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement in which Norfolk Iron will acquire O’Neal Flat Rolled Metals, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ONI.

The closing is expected to be on or before December 31, 2018.

Headwall Partners LLC and XMS Capital Partners, LLC are serving as financial advisors to O’Neal Industries.

About O’Neal Flat Rolled Metals

O’Neal Flat Rolled Metals (OFR Metals), an O’Neal Industries affiliate company, is a leading processor and distributor of non-ferrous and carbon flat rolled metal products. Its eight locations house over 650,000 square feet of processing and warehousing capabilities, offering customers sheet and coil materials including stainless, aluminum, hot rolled, cold rolled and galvanized. OFR Metals also offers painted, polished and coated material to suit diverse customer needs. For more information, visit

About Norfolk Iron & Metal

Norfolk Iron and Metal, founded in 1908, is a family owned and operated metals service center based in Norfolk, Nebraska. Its five locations offer customers sheet, plate, long products and tubing as well as advanced value-added services with a growing array of processing equipment. For more information, visit

About O’Neal Industries

O’Neal Industries (ONI) is the largest family owned group of metals service centers in the United States. Composed of six leading brands and generating sales of approximately $2.6 billion in 2018, ONI is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and has more than 80 specialized facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit

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November 2018 Market Insight

Economic Indicators

The U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs in October while the unemployment rate was unchanged at a near 50-year low of 3.7%. Wages and salaries jumped by 3.1%, the highest level in 10 years.

September’s Architecture Billings Index score was 51.1. The pace of growth slowed a bit from August. However, any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The October Purchasing Managers Index registered 57.7%, a decrease of 2.1 percentage points from the September reading of 59.8%. The New Orders Index registered 57.4%, a decrease of 4.4 percentage points from the previous month. The Production Index registered 59.9%, a 4.0 percentage point decrease compared to the September reading.


The American Iron and Steel Institute reported that the U.S. imported 2.2 million tons of steel, including 1.9 million tons of finished steel, in September. Overall, steel imports for the month were down 25.9% and finished steel imports decreased 8.6% from August.


The Trump administration remains committed to continued talks with the Canadian and Mexican governments regarding its Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum. U.S. and European Union officials met in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss regulatory issues that eventually could be part of a transatlantic trade deal. Talks with China, however, are still off the table.

The Trump administration officially notified Congress that it will start trade negotiations with Japan, the European Union and the U.K. as soon as three months from October 16. The notification is a procedural step under U.S. trade law that is required 90 days before the U.S. enters into negotiations with other countries. The White House cannot engage in official talks before the three-month window is over and needs to consult with Congress during that period to ensure it’s fulfilling the objectives laid out in the law.

Canada is applying quotas and a 25% tariff on steel imports from China and other countries to avoid becoming a dumping ground for steel in the face of metal levies imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government faces continuing trade tensions with the U.S., which hit Canada, the European Union and other nations with tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum this summer.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or view the November 2018 Insight Guide below.

OFR Insight November 2018
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October 2018 Market Insight

Economic Indicators

The U.S. economy added 134,000 jobs in September, extending the record run of hiring to eight full years. The unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, the lowest since 1969.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates and cemented expectations for another hike this year as they reaffirmed that a strong U.S. economy will probably warrant further gradual increases well into 2019. The quarter-point hike boosted the benchmark federal funds rate to a target range of 2%-2.25%.

The Architectural Billings Index score for August was 54.2 compared to the 50.7 reading in July. Any score above 50 represents an increase in billings.

The September Purchasing Managers Index registered at 59.8%, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points from the August reading of 61.3%. The New Orders Index registered 61.8%, a decrease of 3.3 percentage points from the previous month. The Production Index registered 63.9%, a 0.6 percentage point increase compared to the August reading.

Gas prices are creeping up nationally, now pennies a gallon away from their highest level since 2014. Average prices topped $2.90 a gallon for unleaded October 3 for the first time since June, having risen about 6 cents a gallon in the past month. If they rise by about another eight cents, they will be the highest in four years.

Steel Industry News

U.S. service center steel shipments increased 6.7% year-over-year. Aluminum shipments increased 4.1% during the month, compared with August 2017. Total shipments of sheet and plate products were up 4% year-over-year and 4.9% over July.

Aluminum touched its highest price in more than three months on October 4 supported by worries over potential shortages after the world’s biggest producer of alumina announced a shutdown. The gains could be overdone because Norsk Hydro’s closure of the Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil may be temporary. Gains were stretching into a fifth session after a 4.2% jump in October for its largest one-day gain since April.


U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, European Union Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Hiroshige Seko met to discuss trade policy in late September. After the meeting, the three leaders released a joint statement that outlined efforts to address non-market oriented policies in third world countries, subsidies and state-owned entities, technology transfer, digital trade, and World Trade Organization (WTO) reform. To read more, this article can be found on page 6 of the below October 2018 OFR Insight Guide.

To learn more, view the October 2018 Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.

OFR Insight October 2018
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September 2018 Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. economy added 201,000 jobs in August. This is slightly above analysts’ expectations. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at 3.9%.

Real U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 4.2% last quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported August 29. That is up from 4.1% in its first estimate. Economists expect growth to slow in the coming months, to round out the year at about 3%.

The Architectural Billings Index for July registered at 50.7. While any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings, July’s growth was nearly flat.

The August Purchasing Managers Index registered at 61.3%, an increase of 3.2 percentage points from the July reading of 58.1%. The New Orders Index registered 65.1%, an increase of 4.9 percentage points from the July reading. The Production Index registered 63.3%, a 4.8-percentage point increase compared to the previous month.

President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods could go into effect as soon as a public comment period on the taxes concludes this month. It’s unclear whether the new tariffs will be set at 10% or 25%. It could be the most painful round of tariffs the U.S. has imposed on Chinese products this year.

The U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement on overhauling NAFTA in late August, turning up the pressure on Canada to agree to new terms. September 5 was the first day that negotiations between the U.S. and Canada resumed after four intensive days of talks ended without a deal on August 31.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or view the September 2018 Insight Guide below.

ONI Insight September 2018
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August 2018 Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in July while the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, close to its 18-year low. Meanwhile, consumer confidence rose above expectations in July. The Confidence Board’s index increased to 127.4 in July.

The Architectural Billings Index score for June was 51.3 compared to 52.8 in May. Any score above 50 indicates billings growth.

The July Purchasing Managers Index registered at 58.1%, a decrease of 2.1 percentage points from the June reading of 60.2%. The New Orders Index registered at 60.2%, a decrease of 3.3 percentage points from the June reading of 63.5%. The Production Index registered at 58.5%, a 3.8 percentage point decrease compared to the previous month.

President Donald Trump has indicated that his administration may pursue a bilateral deal with Mexico first before negotiating separately with Canada. Such a move would upend the decades-old trilateral NAFTA deal and likely stretch out negotiations far longer.

China said on August 1 that “blackmail” wouldn’t work and that it would hit back if the U.S. takes further steps hindering trade, as the Trump administration considers slapping a 25% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The proposal would increase the potential tariff rate from the 10% the administration had initially put forward on July 10. The tariffs target thousands of Chinese imports, including food products, chemicals, steel and aluminum and consumer goods.

For more information, view the August 2018 Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.

ONI Insight August 2018
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July 2018 Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. economy added 213,000 jobs in June despite the mounting trade tensions with China. The unemployment rate rose to 4.0%, from 3.8% the previous month.

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. rose slightly in June. The index increased to 98.2, below an expected 99.2 by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters. The primary concerns for consumers were a down pace in economic growth and rising inflation.

The Architecture Billings Index for May was 52.8, which shows that demand for services from architectural firms continues to be healthy as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The June Purchasing Managers Index registered 60.2%, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the May reading of 58.7%. The New Orders Index registered at 63.5%, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from May’s reading. The Production Index registered at 62.3%, a 0.8 percentage point increase compared to May.

President Donald Trump fired the biggest shot yet in the global trade war by imposing tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports and China retaliated. Duties on Chinese goods started on July 6 in Washington, just after midday in China. Another $16 billion of goods could follow in two weeks, Trump earlier told reporters, before suggesting the final total could eventually reach $550 billion, a figure that exceeds all of U.S. goods imports from China in 2017.

U.S. customs officials will begin collecting an additional 25% tariff on a range of imports from China. China has said it would respond by imposing higher levies on an equivalent amount of goods from America, which may in turn prompt Trump to raise trade barriers even higher.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or view the July 2018 Insight Guide below.

ONI Insight July 2018

Steel in Camping Equipment: What is it Used For

Summer is officially here and that means it is time to get out and explore the world around us. Many people take advantage of the warmer weather by going camping. Did you know that steel is found on a lot of your must-have camping equipment? Let’s take a look at some steel camping equipment!

Campfire Grill or Portable BBQ Grill

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One of the more obvious places to find steel on your camping equipment is on your campfire grills and BBQ grills. Powder-coated steel and aluminized steel are the most common types of steel used for grills. These types of steel can withstand the heat from the fire and are very durable to help the grill last a long time.

Enamelware/Outdoor Dinnerware

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In case you prefer not to use disposable products, most outdoor dinnerware is also made out of steel. This is because steel is durable, easy to clean, safe to heat, and long lasting. Enamelware is metal that has been coated in a porcelain lining. It is also idea for camping because it is lightweight and budget friendly. It shouldn’t be too hard to find, either. Enamelware is incredibly trendy at the moment.

Coffee Pot

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If you’re anything like me, a hot beverage in the morning is a necessity. Especially when camping. Nothing completes a perfect morning of cool mountain air, watching the sunrise than a hot cup of Joe. So, you’ll need a metal coffee pot to place on the fire. Most camping coffee pots are made of stainless steel and may or may not come with an enameled layer.

Marshmallow Roasters

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One of the best parts of camping is starting a fire and roasting marshmallows. And, it today’s world you no longer have to search the woods for the perfect roasting stick that will possibly catch on fire halfway through your s’more making. Roasting sticks can be found at just about any big box store, grocery store, and many convenience stores. They are made from stainless steel with a wood, plastic, or rubber handle for safety.

These are just some of the places you can find steel in your camping equipment. If you look around, it is probably used in some way from your tent to your cooler. Now get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

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

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June 2018 Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8% as employers added 223,000 jobs in May – this is after two months of lackluster gains.

The consumer confidence index rose to 128 from a revised 125.6 in April, close to an 18-year high. The present situation index climbed to a 17-year high of 161.7 from 157.5 in the prior month. The high level of confidence reflects a sturdy economic expansion in the U.S.

April’s Architectural Billings Index registered at 52.0, which indicates an increase in firm billings from the previous month.

The May Purchasing Managers Index registered at 58.7%, an increase of 1.4 percentage points from the April reading of 57.3%. The New Orders Index registered at 63.7%, up 2.5 percentage points from April. The Production Index registered 61.5%, a 4.3 percentage point increase compared to April.

The Trump administration announced on May 31 that it would impose tariffs on metals imported from its closest allies, a measure that could provoke retaliation against American businesses. A 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, which supply nearly half of America’s imported metal, went into effect on June 1.

The Trump administration had decided to move ahead with tough trade measures on China. On May 29, the White House said that it would proceed with its plan to levy 25% tariffs on $50 billion of imported Chinese goods, despite recent remarks by administration officials that the tariffs would be suspended while the countries continued their negotiations.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or view the June 2018 Insight Guide below.

ONI Insight June 2018
weathering steel

Weathering Steel: What is it?

Weathering steel, commonly referred to as A606 steel, has recently gained popularity in the architectural world for its distinctive orange-brown oxide (or rust) finish. This layer of rust aids in the resistance to corrosive elements. When weathering steel is produced, it is not rusted. It gradually develops the rust-like appearance as it is exposed to the elements over time.

But, how does it develop the layer of rust and how does that actually aid in corrosion resistance? Let’s find out!

How Weathering Steel Works

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Unlike most corrosion resistant steels that resist rust, weathering steel does rust. However, it only rusts on the outer layer and will not penetrate into the steel once the initial layer has formed. With weathering steel, the layer of rust acts as a barrier to protect the steel from corrosion, whereas with other metals the rust is porous and breaks off allowing another layer to form. The specific alloying elements in the steel produce a stable layer of rust that adheres to the base metal and isn’t as porous as typical rust.

Benefits of Weathering Steel

Weathering steel has many benefits, which make it ideal for architecture.

  • Resists further rusting and staining
  • A high strength low alloy steel (HSLA)
  • Heat and corrosion resistant
  • Ease of formability
  • Low maintenance
  • Long-term performance
  • Environmentally friendly and can be recycled

What is Weathering Steel Used For?

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Because it is corrosion resistant, weathering style is frequently used for exposed structures. These can include bridges, building siding and roofing panels, truck and bus frames, as well as metal sculptures. It was initially used in the 1930s for ore wagons to help them resist corrosion. With its unique finish, it also eliminates the need for repainting or recoating of the steel.

There are elements that weathering steel can’t withstand, however. It shouldn’t be used for applications that will be exposed to chlorine. Chlorine will cause the rusted surface to corrode and can lead to premature failure of the material.

At Metalwest we stock A606 Type 4 in coil and sheet. For more information on product availability, contact your local sales representative as it may very between branches

Hot Rolled Steel: What it is Used For

I know you are very interested in learning about what hot rolled steel is used for. But guess what Buzz readers, it is actually used for some interesting applications.

Like we discussed in the Hot Rolled Steel: How it is Made post, hot rolled steel is the most basic form of steel a mill produces. Due to its lackluster surface finish it is typically used in applications in which the finish isn’t critical to the project.

While the word “lackluster” is something most people would use to describe this dull, boring type of steel, it is actually one of the more interesting in appearance (besides galvanized which we will get to later). Hot rolled dry sheets and coil are a darker grey than most other steel types and have a silvery blue, almost purple strip along both sides. The color of the strip makes the steel’s surface appear as if it is still hot to the touch. However, this is a result of the hot rolling process and the left-over mill scale.

Alchemical Sentinels by Thierry Ehrmann- hot rolled steel sculpture

Alchemical Sentinels by
Thierry Ehrmann via Flickr 12/7/11.

Art Sculptures

Because of the unique finish, hot rolled dry is one of the most commonly used steel types for art sculptures (besides stainless steel). The variations of color along the steel sheets provide for character throughout the sculpture.

The down side to hot roll dry is that because it does not have a finish it is prone to rusting. However, you may notice a sculpture in a hotel lobby, airport, or office building that appears to have a rusted finish. The sculpture was likely built from hot rolled dry and allowed to rust before adding a protective finish (or it could have just been sandblasted to look like rust, either way it is likely still hot rolled).

Truck Frames and Automotivehot rolled steel dump truck

Okay, so maybe you aren’t an art enthusiast. Hot rolled is also used for truck frames and automobile seat frames. For this application the metal typically goes through the processes of pickle and oiling (P&O) before it is used to help prevent rusting and allow for painting.

Hot Rolled Pickle and Oiling Process

The P&O process is a mill scale cleansing that removes the black oxide scale. After the P&O process, an enhanced surface finish is applied and the material is now known as hot rolled P&O.

Hot rolled P&O has a smoother, more even finish. It no longer has prominent, colorful strips along the sides and is slightly less dark in color.

hot rolled steel argriculture equipment with SkipAgriculture Equipment

So you’re not into art or automotive, well then maybe you’re a farmer. Hot rolled steel is used widely in agriculture equipment because of its high strength level and formability. The formability of hot rolled P&O can be simple bends to complex draws depending on the steel grade. Harvesters, tractors, and other farm machinery all require the strength that hot rolled offers. Next time you are harvesting your grains, remember you are probably riding on a big green hot rolled machine (red in this case).

None of these areas interest you? Well, lucky for you there are other uses for hot rolled and hot rolled P&O, including water heaters, railcar components and railroad equipment, guard rails, doors, shelving and many more.