LEWISTOWN - After two years of relative silence, executives from Standard Steel spoke out Monday about the facility's new parent company as well as current operational changes and upcoming improvements during the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau Annual Meeting.
"Being bought by Sumitomo Metal Industries and Sumitomo Corporation was a real opportunity for Standard Steel," said Allen Majewski, executive vice president of Standard Steel. "Now we're part of a huge, world class, company with access to support, ideas and capital. They're the second largest steel maker in the world."
Standard Steel was purchased by Sumitomo Metal Industries and Sumitomo Corp., a global organization based in Japan, in June 2011 for an estimated $340 million, according to a press release issued at that time.
The advantage of working with a strategic buyer such as Sumitomo, Majewski said, is that the purchase of Standard Steel fits into the company's overall corporate strategy as compared to working with a private equity firm that has already formed an exit strategy.
"Sumitomo wants to be in the business that we're in," Majewski said. "They want to make the products that we make and they want to do it here in Burnham. We've already seen benefits of the capital investments and improvements that they're making."
Sumitomo recently began a strategic capital expenditure project, investing $60 million in the Standard Steel facility through 2014, said Takashi Fujimura, senior vice president of Standard Steel.
The purpose of the investment is to manufacture and supply a higher quality product to customers, Fujimura said. The money is specifically going toward new equipment that will create a cleaner steel and more precise wheel design, he added.
With this investment, Standard Steel will be one step closer to becoming a market leader in a variety of areas, Majewski said.
"We want to move away from the commodity, especially on the wheel side, and get into the more specialty items where there's more technology and larger markets," Majewski said.
The manufacturing process isn't going to change a lot, but it's the improvements within the process, primarily the increase in quality steel, that can make the company a market leader, said Craig Kaniecki, vice president of finance at Standard Steel. The same can be said of the new communication and development strategies, he added.
"We're trying new ways to think and communicate that we've never used before," Kaniecki said. "We've developed cross functional teams, whether it be from the belt shop, axle shop or machine shop, of people with varying degrees of experience and skill sets to discuss bettering the overall company as well as the individual shops."
The teams work together to identify motivated employees who are capable of mitigating change and meeting company goals, Kaniecki said. The company then encourages these individuals to take ownership of a project and inspire their shop to improve production, he said.
"We're willing to put forth the necessary resources, whether it be financial capital or getting the right people to the right places, to consistently improve Standard Steel," Kaniecki said. "Everyone is willing to roll up their sleeves and work toward our goals."
For more information about Standard Steel, visit www.standardsteel.com. For more information about Sumitomo Corp., visit www.sumitomocorp.co.jp/english/.