DI Speaker Series features Nucor Steel VP
As the largest steel producer in the United States, Nucor Steel produces over 23 million tons of steel each year across 200 locations. And approximately three million tons of that output is created at Nucor Steel Berkeley, the company’s largest plant, explained Vice President and General Manager Giff Daughtridge at the Daniel Island Speaker Series event on April 4.
Located in Huger, S.C. on the Cainhoy peninsula, the plant creates a revenue of over $2 billion each year, a large portion of the company’s total net sales of approximately $20 billion, according to Daughtridge.
“We have 23 steel mills and 86 plants total and [Nucor Steel Berkeley] makes about 13 percent of all the tons,” said Daughtridge, while addressing his audience in the Daniel Island Club ballroom.
The steel that goes through the plant is “blanked and slipped” and eventually turned into items used in automotive products, water heaters, and lawn and garden, among many others, explained Daughtridge.
“We do 100 percent of the business at big water heater plants,” he continued. “We make the outer skins for the Nascar cars up in Charlotte…We’re big in automotive. GM and BMW are our two biggest customers…[The steel] gets rolled out and it gets blanked and slipped and it becomes about everything you can see that is made out of steel.”
But none of this work could be done without Nucor Steel Berkeley’s 940 teammates, who are vital to the company’s success, emphasized Daughtridge. The company’s appreciation for their employees is evident through various programs within the company, such as incentive pay, a no lay-off policy, tuition reimbursement and scholarship opportunities for employee family members.
Every employee of Nucor Steel plants across the world is on incentive pay, continued Daughtridge. By doing this, the company is able to maintain the highest wages in the steel industry.
“From the last person we hired, to our CEO, we’re all incentive based,” said Daughtridge. “Nobody has a base pay that is above 40 to 50 percent of their overall compensation…About a half or two-thirds of their pay is incentive bonus. It’s based on prime tons produced. Production people, maintenance, scheduling, planning, everybody is on the exact same bonus system. We are world class in reliability and how we run our mills.”
In terms of the company’s no lay-off policy, when there is an economic downturn, like the one in 2008, instead of firing employees, Nucor Steel cuts pay from top to bottom, added Daughtridge.
“In 2009, when were down at like 40 percent capacity, utilization, I think everyone knew somebody that was losing their job or scared to lose their job,” said Daughtridge. “That wasn’t anybody at Nucor. Because our pay is variable, folks on our floor lost between 25 and 30 percent of their pay as we went through that period. Our CEO lost about 80 percent of his pay. When we came out of the downturn, we weren’t trying to retrain people and find people in. The team was there and it’s together.”
Not only does Nucor Steel offer tuition reimbursement options for teammates and their spouses, the company also continues to focus on the personal and professional development of each employee throughout their employment, stated Daughtridge.
“We have a dedication to developing folks,” he said. “Every single person at our plant has a PCIP (personal continuous improvement plan) and they do annual evaluations. These people come up with plans and talk about them with their supervisor on a regular basis…It doesn’t matter whether somebody wants to be promoted or not, we still think they need to develop.”
Also notable is the company’s scholarship program, which provides children of teammates $3200 a year towards higher education, added Daughtridge.
“Anybody graduating high school and going to college gets $3200 a year for four years towards higher education,” he said. “It’s available to them for 10 years. We ask that they maintain a C average and that’s the only caveat that goes with it. We’ve given out more than $91 million in scholarships.”
Outside of the company, community is also extremely important to Nucor Steel and Nucor Steel Berkeley, explained Daughtridge.
“We work very hard with the schools in Berkeley County,” said Daughtridge. “It’s a source of pride for us. We go and talk to the administrators and teachers to find out what they need. We don’t do that by throwing money at them. We go and solve problems by finding out what they need and doing it the right way.”
The company provided Cainhoy Elementary School with a computer lab and the middle school with Google Chrome Notebooks, added Daughtridge. Most recently, Nucor Steel Berkeley partnered with the Berkeley County School District to create a Mechatronics academy at Philip Simmons High School.
“In the last three to five years, you’ve heard an awful lot about workforce development,” said Daughtridge. “Volvo is here. Boeing is here. Bosch is here. Nucor is here. I hear the governor say that we have all these companies here, we have to provide them with a work force. I think that’s backwards… Manufacturers do fine. They problem solve. They’ll fill their mills. That’s not an issue. What we can do for kids? That’s important.”
For more information about Nucor Steel and Nucor Steel Berkeley, visit http://www.nucorsteel.com/.
The Daniel Island Speaker Series is sponsored jointly by The Rotary Club of Daniel Island, the Daniel Island Community Fund, the Daniel Island Business Association, and the Daniel Island Club.