From the early 1900s through the post-World War II era and beyond, Ohio’s steel industry has seen amazing growth and performance. Ohio steel producers have been a part of every important development in technology, industry and manufacturing, from automobiles and appliances to skyscrapers, roads and bridges.
Ohio remains among the top three steel-producing states in the nation.
Ohio steel companies are strong today because of more than 30 years of effective restructuring in response to global competition. Also, the challenge has been met through heavy investment in technology, as much as $300 to $700 million per year.
The period between 1998 and 2003 was particularly critical. During this time, a wave of unfairly traded steel imports from Asia, Russia and Brazil undercut domestic steel markets. In response, many steel companies consolidated. In addition, steel companies worked collaboratively with the United Steelworkers to rewrite work rules that would allow companies greater flexibility in responding to trends in the marketplace.
With fewer steel companies in the U.S., the industry is able to respond swiftly to market changes. Larger companies are able to shift resources from one operation to the next quickly and efficiently. At the same time, smaller companies still do very well by focusing on niche markets and specialties.
Today, Ohio steel companies produce as much steel as they did before the imports crisis of the late 1990s, even though they employ fewer people. Technology and a more versatile and highly skilled workforce have made up the difference.