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Author Topic: American Steel by Richard Preston (NuCor Steel)  (Read 18148 times)
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« on: 2009-February-19 12:15:18 AM »

From: AnthonyS  (Original Message) Sent: 4/3/2002 1:11 PM

This NONFICTION book has been reissued and it is a very good book. It was on a reading list for Objectivists many years ago (1970s?) and I bought several for gifts. I found this on
Rather than repeat what someone else has written, I have included some reviews below. (I can forgive the author for his expressed belief in God, and assure you that he doesn't let it interfere with his story.)
American Steel
by Richard Preston

New Price: $5.89
Used Price: $0.24

Availability: Seller usually ships in 1-2 business days


Editorial Reviews
From Book News, Inc.

The dramatic chronicle of a maverick group of industrial adventurers (Nucor Corporation) and their effort to build a sheet steel mill in a cornfield outside Crawfordsville, Indiana, using unproven German technology in an attempt to "leapfrog" Japan. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

A report on the resurrection of an American Dream provides a glimmer of hope on the seemingly barren economic horizon with the story of an Indiana steel company that is aiming to restore some of the 300,000 jobs lost in that industry over the past decade. Reprint.

The author, RICHARD PRESTON <> , April 2, 1999

The main character in AMERICAN STEEL is a giant figure in business, Ken Iverson, the chairman of Nucor Corporation. The book is nonfiction. It tells the true story of how Iverson handed a third of a billion dollars to a group of young people, who had no previous experience in steel or even in business, and told them to build the world's most advanced steel mill, six times more efficient than any steel mill in Japan. It was a dangerous assignment for these guys.

I followed the whole thing. As I was finishing up the book, there was a terrible accident. They dropped a 100-ton ladle of molten steel. It exploded when it hit the ground, throwing basketball-sized blobs of molten steel hundreds of feet in the air. This blew off the building's roof and walls -- a building the size of a cathedral. One man died, drenched with liquid steel, which fried the skin off his body. Human skin actually explodes when it's splashed with liquid steel. I had met him. To be a journalist and lose someone you've interviewed is a wrenching experience. In the investigation that followed the accident, it was determined that if the ladle had been dropped just five seconds earlier, almost all of the characters in my real-life book would probably have died. And AMERICAN STEEL would have ended as a tragedy.

Instead, it's a story of triumph. The guys survived the accident, went on and succeeded, and their steel mill today is a wonder of American ingenuity. When you write nonfiction, you don't have control over the story. In this case, God wrote the ending of my book, since if the ladle had been dropped five seconds earlier, my heroes would have been fried in a pool of steel. I welcome e-mail and try to answer it. My other books are THE HOT ZONE, AMERICAN STEEL, and FIRST LIGHT.

« Last Edit: 2009-February-19 12:26:54 AM by DennisLeeWilson » Logged

Objectivist & Sovereign Individual
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« Reply #1 on: 2009-February-19 12:15:45 AM »

From: AnthonyS Sent: 4/3/2002 1:23 PM


I am reading American Steel, as result of your post! Thanks for the book and the recommendation. It is so good. I cannot put it down.

Objectivist & Sovereign Individual
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« Reply #2 on: 2009-February-19 12:31:15 AM »

Nucor & Yamato

From: AnthonyS  (Original Message) Sent: 4/5/2002 1:33 PM

About Nucor [& Yamato]

Nucor's History:
Nucor Corporation is the largest steel producer in the United States and has over $4.5 billion in sales annually. Nucor is the nation's largest recycler, recyling over 10 million tons of scrap steel annually. Nucor's origins are with auto manufacturer Ransom E. Olds, who founded Oldsmobile and then Reo Motor Cars. Through a series of transactions, the company Olds founded eventually became the Nuclear Corporation of America. Nuclear Corporation was involved in the nuclear instrument and electronics business in the 1950's and early 1960's.

The company suffered through several money-losing years, and when facing bankruptcy in 1964, installed F. Kenneth Iverson as President and Samuel Siegel as Vice President of Finance. This change in management led to a restructuring and a decision to rebuild the company around the major profitable operations; the steel joist businesses in Florence, South Carolina and Norfolk, Nebraska called Vulcraft.

The company moved its headquarters from Phoenix, Arizona to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1966, and expanded the joist business with new operations in Texas and Alabama. Management then decided to integrate backwards into steel making by building its first steel bar mill in Darlington, South Carolina in 1968. In 1972 the company adopted the name Nucor Corporation. Since that time, Nucor has built three more Vulcraft facilities, eight steel mills, and expanded into other steel products. Today, Nucor manufactures carbon and alloy steel in bar, sheet, and structural forms, steel joist and joist girders, steel deck, cold finished steel, steel fasteners, and metal building systems.

Management Philosophy:
The company's success comes from its more than 7,000 employees. Nucor seeks to hire and retain highly talented and productive people. Nucor has a simple, streamlined organizational structure to allow employees to innovate and make quick decisions. The company is highly decentralized, with most day-to-day operating decisions made by the division general managers and their staff.

The organizational structure at a typical division is made up of only three management layers:

General Manager
Department Manager
Hourly Employee

Employee relations at Nucor are based on four clear-cut principles:
1. Management is obligated to manage Nucor in such a way that employees will have the opportunity to earn according to their productivity.
2. Employees should be able to feel confident that if they do their jobs properly, they will have a job tomorrow.
3. Employees have the right to be treated fairly and must believe that they will be.
4. Employees must have an avenue of appeal when they believe they are being treated unfairly.

By implementing these four basic principles within a relatively simple organizational structure, Nucor has been able to attract and retain highly talented and productive employees.

Performance Based Compensation:
Nucor provides employees with a performance related compensation system that rewards goal-oriented individuals. All employees are covered under one of four basic compensation plans, each featuring incentives related to meeting specific goals and targets.

1. Production Incentive Plan: Operating and maintenance employees and supervisors at the facilities are paid weekly bonuses based on the productivity of their work group. The rate is calculated based on the capabilities of the equipment employed, and no bonus is paid if the equipment is not operating. In general, the Production Incentive bonus can average from 80 to 150 percent of an employee's base pay.

2. Department Manager Incentive Plan: Department Managers earn annual incentive bonuses based primarily on the percentage of net income to dollars of assets employed for their division. These bonuses can be as much as 80 percent of a department manager's base pay.

3. Professional and Clerical Bonus Plan: This bonus is paid to employees that are not on the production or department manager plan and is based on the division's net income return on assets.

4. Senior Officers Incentive Plan: Nucor's senior officers do not have employment contracts. They do not participate in any pension, discretionary bonus or retirement plans. Their base salaries are set lower than what executives receive in comparable companies. The remainder of their compensation is based on Nucor's annual overall percentage of net income to stockholder's equity and is paid out in cash and stock.

In addition to these established bonus plans, Nucor has periodically issued an extraordinary bonus to all employees, except officers, in years of particularly strong company performance. This bonus has been as high as $800 for each employee.

Egalitarian Benefits:
Nucor takes an egalitarian approach to providing benefits to its employees. That is, the upper levels of management do not enjoy better insurance programs, vacation schedules, or holidays. In fact, certain benefits such as Nucor's Profit Sharing, Scholarship Program, Employee Stock Purchase Plan, Extraordinary Bonus, and Service Awards Program are not available to Nucor's officers.

Senior executives do not enjoy traditional perquisites such as company cars, corporate jets, executive dining rooms, or executive parking places.

Customer Service and Quality:
Nucor is committed to uncompromising quality, responsive service and competitive pricing. Through continuous innovation, modern equipment, dedication to the customer, and concentration on productivity from a highly motivated work force, Nucor has distinguished itself as a leading producer of quality steel and steel products. Many Nucor divisions are ISO 9000 Certified. Nucor employees are committed to providing customers with the highest quality levels at the most competitive prices. And, while steel and steel products are Nucor's business, the real business of Nucor is its commitment to each and every customer on each and every order.

Technological Leadership:
Nucor's strong emphasis on employee communication and commitment carries with it the commitment to provide the work force with the best technology available to get the job done right in a safe working environment. As evidence of that commitment, Nucor aggressively pursues the latest advancements in steel making around the world to determine what technology it can adapt in its facilities.

This pursuit of technical excellence lead to the joint venture with Yamato Kogyo of Japan to build Nucor-Yamato Steel Company in 1988. At Nucor-Yamato, Yamato-Kogyo's technological expertise in structural beam blank casting was successfully combined with Nucor's management philosophy and talented personnel to build one of the premiere structural steel mills in the United States.

In addition, the Nucor Steel sheet mills in Indiana, Arkansas, and South Carolina represent a revolution in the thin slab casting. Nucor was the first "mini-mill" to successfully commercialize the technology developed by a company in West Germany.

Please see the Annual Report and News Releases for more information on Nucor's current and future growth plans.

Board of Directors of Nucor Corporation:
Peter C. Browning, Non-Executive Chairman, Nucor Corporation
Daniel R. DiMicco, Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Clayton Daley, CFO, Procter and Gamble
Harvey B. Gantt, Partner, Gantt Huberman Architects
Victoria F. Haynes, President, Research Triangle Institute
James D. Hlavacek, Managing Director, Market Driven Management

Executive Management of Nucor Corporation -- Executive Offices:
Daniel R. DiMicco, Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Terry S. Lisenby, Chief Financial Officer
John Ferriola, Executive Vice President
Hamilton Lott, Executive Vice President
D. Michael Parrish, Executive Vice President
Joseph A. Rutkowski, Executive Vice President
James M. Coblin, Vice President, Human Resources

Nucor's Stock Listing:
Nucor's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. NYSE:NUE

Stock Transfers, Dividend Disbursing, Dividend Reinvestment:
American Stock Transfer & Trust Company
40 Wall Street
New York, New York 10005
800/937-5449 fax: 718/236-2641

Nucor's Corporate Offices:
Nucor Corporation
2100 Rexford Road
Charlotte, North Carolina 28211
704/366-7000 fax:704/362-4208
web site:
email us at:

See Products/Divisions for Nucor division contact information and web site links.


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