Teammates and Local Community are the Keys to Nucor's Success
What company gives its employees the freedom to try out new ideas, eschews hierarchy in order to empower them to solve problems, and ties their pay directly to their productivity? Would you be surprised to learn it is not a tech company, but a steel company?
Nucor Corporation is the largest steel producer in the U.S. and largest recycler in North America, recycling over 19 million tons of scrap steel last year. Our teammates produced 25 million tons of steel in 2014, and our company’s $21 billion in revenue last year ranks it in the top third on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies in the United States.
Nucor traces its origins to auto manufacturer Ransom E. Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile. Over time, the company Olds founded would change hands and focus, then evolve to become Nucor. A major milestone in our journey was the 1962 acquisition of Vulcraft Corporation, a manufacturer of steel joists and joist girders, and the appointment of Ken Iverson to president. This acquisition, combined with Iverson’s unique style of leadership, would provide the spark for the company’s remarkable growth and a revolution in American steelmaking.
Borrowing an idea that was just beginning to gain popularity in Europe, Nucor took a risk and built an electric arc furnace mill, which makes steel from scrap metal. Since these mills were much smaller and less expensive to build than traditional iron ore mills, they were known as mini-mills. Nucor opened the first mini-mill in the U.S. in Darlington, South Carolina, in 1969. Today, mini-mills account for 60 percent of steelmaking in the U.S. In 1986, Nucor entered the steel fastener market with a new production facility in St. Joe, Indiana followed by the beginning of Nucor Building Systems in 1987 with its first plant in Waterloo, which has since expanded to three more locations, strategically located across the United States.
Nucor continues to build on its innovative history through acquisition and investments. Since 2000, our company has grown from 7,900 employees at 18 facilities to over 23,800 employees at 200 facilities. Revenue over that same time period has increased from $4.6 billion to $21 billion. Even with our tremendous growth, Nucor maintains one of the leanest management of any Fortune 500 company.
Nucor has a strong presence in this community, too, with four divisions located right here in DeKalb County. In total, there are over 1,100 Nucor teammates split between Nucor Building Systems in Waterloo, Harris Rebar in Auburn, as well as Vulcraft and Nucor Fastener, both located in St. Joe, Indiana.
At Nucor, our success begins and ends with safety, and our attitude on the subject couldn’t be clearer: Safety is top value for every teammate. Each division has dedicated safety teams continuously working to evaluate and improve standards and performance. Many divisions including Nucor Building Systems Indiana, Vulcraft Indiana and Nucor Fastener are recognized by OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program representing the gold standard for excellence in safety.
At Nucor, our
innovative culture is part
of our history. Teammates
are challenged to solve
problems and find ways to
be more productive, and
in turn, are rewarded for
it. Compensation is tied
to productivity through
our company’s pay-for-
performance bonuses that
can potentially double a
teammate’s take-home pay.
system is one reason why
we have never laid off
employees at our steel
mills. Nucor is truly a place
where career possibilities are unlimited.
The real key to Nucor’s success is our people – the right people. We hire the best and the brightest then give them the freedom to spot problems and solve them on their own. In the words of a Nucor executive: “Teammates excel here because they are allowed to fail.” Managers at all levels encourage their teams to try out their new ideas. Sometimes the ideas work out; sometimes they don’t. But this freedom to try helps give Nucor one of the most creative, get-it-done work forces in the world.
At the heart of every Nucor facility are the dedicated people who make up our team. Even more importantly, these teammates make up the heart of the local communities each of our divisions are proud to call home. At Nucor, we believe the strength of a business
is a reflection of its community, and a core part of our company’s mission is to be cultural and environmental stewards in the communities where we live and work.
For us it’s not just about giving back, it’s about diving
in and making a true impact. From schools, parks, and charitable organizations to disaster relief efforts, investing in the community is an important part of what we do. During 2013, Nucor and our teammates were grateful for the opportunity to provide more than 62,000 volunteer hours and $9 million to the communities that support us.
Our principles might be simple, but no one can question their effectiveness. A company that until 1962 hadn’t made a single ton of steel is now one of the world’s largest steelmakers, and one of the nation’s most admired and imitated companies. In an industry where turning a profit is notoriously difficult, Nucor consistently grows earnings. Nucor’s principles, activated by a team of highly skilled, dedicated teammates, have helped us achieve the industry’s highest profits and stock market value. All of these things combined have helped make Nucor one of America’s greatest success stories.