The AISTech Town Hall Forum is turning 20 this year.

The Forum, one of AIST’s signature events at its annual conference and exposition, has seen dozens of steel industry executives from around the world grace its stage.

The inaugural Town Hall Forum was held during the Iron & Steel Society’s ISS Tech 2003. Moderated by late Chicago broadcaster John Callaway, more than 1,000 people attended the standing-room-only event.

The “living room”-style conversation was originally intended to bring industry executives together to figure out how to rescue the industry from a period of economic uncertainty, bankruptcies and consolidations. George Koenig, the Town Hall’s chair and, for all intents and purposes, founder, came up with the idea for the Forum in 2002. With the support of a few members of the Iron & Steel Society (ISS) board of directors, he quickly started bringing people on board.

“I had the idea of getting the executives out of the board room and in front of the members, so that they could hear firsthand what’s going on and what’s happening in the inner workings,” Koenig said.

After ISS merged with the Association of Iron and Steel Engineers (AISE), Koenig and AIST’s then-newly minted executive director Ronald Ashburn decided to keep the Forum going each year at AISTech.

“U. S. Steel supported it, Nucor Steel supported it, Steel Dynamics, everybody supported it,” Koenig explained. “Then Ron pushed to make sure we had an international participant.”
“The success of it today is because of AIST and Ron,” Koenig said.

►See Past Town Hall Panelists