Tube & Pipe
Producers’ customers remain confident after acquisitions create leadership shift

ompanies merge, and with that connection, change follows—in leadership, facilities and day-to-day operations. After Nucor Tubular Products (NTP) Group brought together the former Independence Tube, Southland Tube and Republic Conduit, the company assured its newfound customer base that it would provide expected reliability to existing as well as new customers.

NTP quelled the concerns of one of its customers, a Southeastern service center that sells $700 million worth of steel products per year. Consistency and open communication, including working with the same sales rep for more than a decade, has proven to this customer that NTP can navigate change. The service center sells wide-flange beams, plate and piling, merchant bars, pipe and tube to its network of North American customers.

“We were unsure at first during the initial acquisition period, when leadership shifted,” says the service center manager. “The longevity of our relationship with our sales representative now under the NTP umbrella has been essential. We firmly believe in relationships and needed those invested relationships to remain.”

NTP is prepared to embrace new technology and the digital experience customers are looking for.
Doug Rife, Nucor Tubular Products
On a typical day, the Southeastern distributor’s salespeople are on the phone, working on quotes and following up with orders. “But our salespeople need to understand customers inside and out, so they’re out visiting facilities regularly,” he says. “Building those relationships and providing incentive to our team members to keep relationships strong is a shared goal between our operation and NTP. NTP extends that reliability to us, and we are able to pass that along to our customers.”
Investing in innovation
In total, there are eight NTP locations covering more than 2.3 million sq. ft., serving large electrical distributors; steel service centers; and manufacturers of agricultural, transportation, lighting, fire sprinklers and material handling equipment throughout the United States and Canada. Value-added offerings include in-house bandsaw cutting and mechanical properties testing, ID flash removal, Charpy V-notch testing, pipe beveling, and miter cutting.
stack of steel bars
Nucor plans to invest $4 million in upgrades and new equipment at its Birmingham mills, while maintaining its full range of capabilities as it simplifies mill scheduling. Quick changeover technology and upgraded mill coolant systems will improve surface quality and increase tool life, while weld monitoring systems, including flux leakage, will ensure weld integrity.

Upgraded mill cut-off systems will boost cut end quality and improve length tolerances. NTP will also structure plant layouts for reduced material handling and efficiency as well as make additional safety enhancements, including adding scarf choppers, to the mills. “We are excited for these changes and the opportunity it gives us to better serve our customers,” says Jason Hollis, NTP South sales manager.

steel tubes
Nucor Tubular Products spans 2.3 million sq. ft. over eight locations throughout North America.
Better customer service also means addressing expectations that are in constant flux, including an increase in order volumes due to added space for large-volume distribution warehouses (e.g., Amazon) and large construction jobs.

“There has been increased activity with A1085 grade requirements and increased minimum yield strength requirements (e.g., HSLA Grade 70),” says Tim Nichols, NTP South inside sales supervisor.

Customers can access their orders online at any time. A reliable rolling schedule allows customers to manage inventory closely using vendor managed inventory (VMI), electronic data interchange (EDI) and bar coding. “Our world is more digitalized with advanced shipping notices, VMI and customer portals,” says Doug Rife, structural sales manager. “NTP is prepared to embrace new technology and the digital experience customers are looking for.”

On the right foot
After a record year in 2018, 2019 began “with inventory levels that exceeded what would be considered normal or average levels,” says Alex Ostoich, NTP product manager. “This resulted in industrywide destocking through the better part of the first half of the year. We have seen inventories return to healthier levels in the second half of 2019, and the market took a conservative approach to their inventories through the end of the year in order to be better positioned to start 2020 on the right foot.”
NTP has boosted capabilities at its Trinity, Alabama, mill so it can provide A53 and sprinkler pipe products, including a proprietary black OD coating that provides protection against corrosion and improves appearance. In 2019, NTP introduced patented Hydroflow Schedule 7 sprinkler pipe, broadening product offerings to the market. NTP also performs hydrostatic testing, in addition to traditional UT testing, on all sprinkler pipe product to ensure seam integrity.

A $27.2 million investment announced in September 2019 to expand the Trinity location will consist of new production, finishing, processing and packaging equipment—including added roll groove capacity and thread and coupling capability. Additionally, NTP has invested in pre-galvanized tube-making equipment at Trinity, with full OD re-metallization and optional clear acrylic coating.

multiple sets of steel tubes
With inventories returning to “healthier levels,” NTP Product Manager Alex Ostoich says the market is “better positioned to start 2020 on the right foot.”
“These investments will allow us to increase our value-added products and services to our customer base. We will grow our workforce to support the new operations,” says Jeremy Cooper, NTP A53/sprinkler pipe sales manager.

In October, NTP rolled out a new customer dissatisfaction policy designed to provide a single point of contact for customers to raise concerns and to expedite resolution efforts. “Our CARE quality policy provides value by continually improving our products and processes, always doing the right thing, recognizing the power of partnerships, and exceeding expectations,” says Barney Hatten, quality supervisor.

blasting the steel
Customer Care teams will spend 2020 traveling to customers and sitting down one-on-one with them to discuss safety, efficiencies and other topics in order to promote best practices.

“Although in its infancy, the program already has been a fruitful experience for us and our customers to continue to work together,” says Mike Koslosky, NTP North sales manager.

Ostoich hopes that all of NTP’s efforts during 2020 will foster confidence. “We expect our customers to be in a position to buy and replenish their inventories as opposed to how we started 2019.”

Nucor Tubular Products,