This steel industry leader has turned around its culture, buoying its business in the U.S. Now the company is looking for investors to help it grow in the future.
“When you’re making line pipe for the transmission of oil and gas in the ground of our country and through our neighborhoods, it can’t just be good. Every aspect of every piece of pipe must be absolutely perfect.”
From the specifications and pressure a pipe can handle to the pipe’s appearance and adherence to code, President and Chief Executive Officer of JSW Steel (USA), John Hritz, knows there is no cutting corners when producing products that keep this country running.
As Hritz stated, nothing short of perfect will do. That’s why over the last year Hritz and his leadership team have put into place new strategies for company culture and operations. Today, the biggest energy companies in the country approve JSW Steel’s products and performance.
But that wasn’t the reality before Hritz joined the company early in 2015. JSW Steel’s parent company, The Jindal Group in India, founded its American operations in 2007.
The market conditions for steel production in the U.S. have moved between good and bad since JSW Steel was established, and the last few years have been particularly tough. And while business was going fairly well, big energy companies did not approve JSW Steel (USA) for certain work.
There were several places inside the company that could use updating, and Hritz was the man to do it.
“I was invited to India to give a presentation to The Jindal Group on how I would restructure JSW Steel,” Hritz said. “I had the opportunity to visit their facilities and was impressed by their ethical and corporate practices, as well as their care for people. I knew it would be a good fit.”
When he got started in the U.S. facilities, equipment needed fixing and upgrading and the plate mill required new preventative maintenance procedures to be put in place. A cultural shift was a top priority.
“We treat all of our employees with dignity,” he said. “The people in our facilities needed to be believed in. We defined our expectations for personal accountability and began working on a plan towards employee empowerment. The cultural transformation has taken quite a while, but it’s the thing I’m most proud of today.”
It was not an easy task: JSW Steel’s leadership had to address equipment issues, and employees had to do more with less. Prioritization was key, as investment was necessary in almost every part of the company.
But it was worth it. JSW Steel’s facility is the only giant plate mill combo with a contiguous pipe mill for the energy and the oil and gas transmission segment in North America. It’s an important facility in a crucial location that has now been approved to work with nearly every company in the industries it serves.
Internally, Hritz can see the difference the new company culture has brought.
“The cohesion of the group is incredible. Everyone’s mindset is focused around a common goal. We have a meeting every morning that contains 35 to 40 of our key employees to discuss everything that occurred during the last 24-hour period. Our cultural transformation has everyone anticipating everyone else’s thoughts and methods. It’s a pleasure to see our company working in this way.”
All of these company-wide initiatives have come together in a very short time frame. In 12 months, Hritz and his team have completely turned the plate mill around on safety, quality, and productivity. In fact, the company reduced OSHA recordables by 66 percent, mill downtime by 54 percent, overall rejections by 47 percent, re-leveling by 76 percent, customer claims by 91 percent and cost of quality reductions by 50 percent.“To have these giant energy companies’ approval is so important in our line of business. To get that approval is not an easy thing, so I’m proud of our team for getting us so far in such a short amount of time.”
By improving the productivity, efficiency, and quality of its mills in less than a year, and in one of the worst steel and energy markets in the last 20 years, JSW’s leadership now has another thing on its mind: investing in the future.
The executive team is currently seeking investment into the mill, and possibly a majority share of the company, to turn its steel mill into the future of plate and pipe steel fabrication. The Jindal Group, JSW Steel’s parent company, has decided to exit the discrete plate and large diameter energy transmission pipe business in the U.S., giving another company the opportunity to benefit from JSW Steel’s recent improvements.
The company’s engineering and operations team spent months with engineers from four of the most prominent equipment suppliers to conclude a design of the widest and most capable plate mill of the future for North America.
The investment would go towards a plethora of upgrades, including a 3,000 pound-per-square-inch descaler, inspection stations, shearing equipment, accelerated cooling, a new 5,000 ton hot leveler, and inline cold leveling.
JSW Steel, like many others in the industry, is anticipating robust infrastructure spending after November’s presidential election, regardless of who is elected. It’s the perfect time to make steel news history—which new investors will be along for the ride?
With one of the widest mills in North America, the JSW Steel (USA) plate division mill rolls hot-rolled plate widths up to 160 inches (4.1m) and thicknesses up to six inches (152.4mm). We service shipyards, oilfield fabricators, heavy equipment producers, machinery makers, and many other end users and distributors who need high-quality carbon plate.
Using quality plate from JSW and other suppliers, our pipe division mill produces LSAW pipe to service energy and petrochemical markets, including large-diameter line pipe for onshore and offshore use, heavy-duty casing, and piling.
Strategically located in Baytown, Texas, just 30 miles outside Houston, we're ideally sited to serve the needs of the global energy and petrochemicals industry.
And as affiliates of India's Jindal Group, with more than 18 million tons per annum with over 80 percent utilization of installed capacity worldwide, our Texas Works plants benefit from our parent company’s world-class engineering expertise and product know-how.
JSW Steel HQ
5200 East Mc Kinney Road,
Baytown, TX 77523