Steel News

Nucor's Ferriola Receives Steelmaker of the Year Award

9/16/2020 - Retired Nucor Corp. chairman and chief executive John Ferriola accepted AIST’s Steelmaker of the Year Award during a virtual presentation Wednesday, marking the third time he has brought AIST’s highest honor home to Nucor. 
In accepting the award, Ferriola, who also was AIST’s 2009 and 2016 Steelmaker of the Year, said he was in the debt of the company’s thousands of teammates throughout the United States. Without their efforts, the award, and the company’s success that it recognizes, would not have been possible. 

“You’ve heard me say many times that a leader is only as good as the team that they lead, and I have been extremely fortunate because the team that I had the privilege to lead is the best team in any company in any industry in any country in the world,” Ferriola said.  

“My Nucor teammates are the reason Nucor continues to thrive in today’s extremely challenging global steel market, and they are the reason that Nucor will continue to excel for many years to come.” 

The Steelmaker of the Year Award is meant to recognize industry leaders who have championed continuous improvement, technological innovation, strategic planning and the creation of a strong corporate culture.

Ferriola led Nucor as chief executive from 2013 to 2019. During that time, he oversaw one of the company’s largest capital expansions and was a leading advocate for the industry in Washington, D.C.   

The award is typically presented during the President’s Award Breakfast at AISTech, AIST’s annual conference and exposition. However, AIST moved the presentation online this year as AISTech was canceled out of due regard to the safety and health of AIST members, exhibitors, attendees and staff after extensive consultation with governing authorities and AIST's board of directors. 

Ferriola accepted the award remotely during the Wednesday morning broadcast. The event was sponsored by refractories manufacturer HarbisonWalker International and industrial equipment and services supplier The Systems Group.

During the presentation, several of his Ferriola’s peers congratulated him on the achievement. Among them was his Nucor predecessor, Dan DiMicco. 

DiMicco said the award was well deserved and recognized Ferriola’s efforts on behalf of Nucor and the steel industry as a whole. 

“You were a true leader in every sense of the word,” DiMicco said.  

Also during the presentation, Nucor’s current chief executive, Leon Topalian, delivered AIST’s William T. Hogan, S.J. Memorial Lecture Award, a keynote speech that traditionally is given at the time the Steelmaker of the Year Award is presented.   

Topalian talked about the challenges that have arisen from the pandemic as well as how it and the social unrest that has followed in the wake of the George Floyd killing has broadened the company's view on safety. 

"Safety means so much more to the Nucor family than just making our products and steel without injury. It means making sure  every one of our 27,000 team members feels valued and a part of this amazing company and that every team member feels safe and free from discrimination," he said.  "I could not be more proud of Nucor's efforts to execute on all aspects of safety, but we have so much more to do, and it will be foreever the most important value we uphold as a company," he said.  

Topalian said the pandemic also has changed the way some may think about trade, showing that domestic manufacturing capability is a matter of national security. 

“Core manufacturing ability in the United States is at least equally important as foreign policy considerations, and core capabilities start with the very foundation of manufacturing – steel, semi- conductors, PPE, chemicals, advanced telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. Self-sufficiency in these core capabilities must be maintained or on-shored,” he said.  

“This can only happen with the carrots to encourage domestic manufacturing and big sticks that address reliable trade enforcement over the long term. The ability to produce here in the U.S. is at the heart of our national security, and our trade policy and necessary enforcement must start and end with this premise.” 

He also called on Congress and the Trump administration to adopt an infrastructure spending plan that includes strong buy-American provisions.  

“This is long overdue,” he said.  “An infrastructure package would help to rebuild our deteriorating infrastructure, provide an economic boost that the country desperately needs and get Americans back to work.” 

On-demand viewing of Topalian’s lecture and the entire Steelmaker of the Year Award presentation are available for AIST members here.