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Front Page » May 31, 2007 » Business Focus » Cold hard Steel
Published 2,517 days ago

Cold hard Steel


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Larry Young stands with The Steel Store manager Amber Nichols and Bill Hill who works in the warehouse and installs steel doors for the company.

Larry Young wasn't convinced for a long time that running a business that supplied steel to large users as well as the casual or hobby builder would be a good idea.

Then someone pointed out that it was hard for a lot of people in the area to find the steel they needed to do various projects.

And so about six months ago Young took a small warehouse/workshop building in south Wellington and opened The Steel Store.

"Dave Swenson at Price Metal Salvage used to carry this kind of stuff, but then he quit," said Young. "I realized there was a need for this kind of stock and that people wanted it."

Steel is a staple of almost any economy as well as the construction and manufacturing industries. Because of the critical role played by steel in infrastructure and overall economic development, the steel industry is often considered indicative for economic prowess.

The economic boom in China has caused a massive increase in the demand for steel in recent years. Between 2000 and 2005, world steel demand increased by six percent. Since 2000, several Indian and Chinese steel firms have rose to prominence. The British Geological Survey reports that in 2005, China was the top producer of steel with about one-third world share followed by Japan, Russia and then the United States.

The news often reports how the American steel manufacturers are all out of business, but Young says that most of his stock comes from American plants.

Square tube stock lies on a rack in The Steel Store. It is one of only many kinds of formed steel that the store handles and distributes.

"We do get some Chinese steel, but most of it is made in the USA."

The Steel Store is not a large industrial operation where the casual metal worker or hobbyist will be overwhelmed by someone talking about hot rolled bars or wide flange beams. Not that they don't carry that kind of stock and know what they are talking about, but it's a down to earth place where a home garage welder can walk in and get what they need.

That doesn't mean though that the business doesn't have some big customers when it comes to supplying steel.

"We have some of the power plants as our customers as well as some construction companies and mines," said Young. "We can supply just about anything anyone wants and no one has to travel over the mountain to get it."

And while at first he wasn't convinced he should open the store, he was amazed when they held an open house a few weeks ago and almost 80 people showed up to eat hamburgers and talk about the business.

"I've been in the construction business for a long time, and I just wondered if I wanted another business, but this has been very good," he said.

Amber Nichols, the store manager, points out that they also sell more than just steel.

"We sell aluminum, stainless, copper, brass, and bronze as well," she stated. "We can get anything anyone is looking for."

She concluded that the store loves to sell to the small customers who are just doing projects at home or have small businesses.


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