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From Value One, Autumn 2010 No. 30
Coilplus, Inc.
U.S. Service Centers with Close Regional Ties
Expanding to Nine Plants throughout the United States over a Quarter Century
Coilplus, Inc.'s first plant was established in Alabama in 1984 with technical assistance from Fukuei Steel Corporation. Steel exports from Japan to the United States were declining at the time, and with expectations that trading companies' trading businesses would shrink, the target of building a network of service centers in the United States was adopted. These centers would have close regional ties and not be overly dependent on Japanese mills or customers alone. The business subsequently grew over the course of a quarter century. The nine U.S. plants now have just over 400 employees and are seeking to expand business volume to 1 million tonnes.
The company's business mainly involves processing, warehousing, and sales of steel sheets, and its diverse customer base includes the automotive, construction, appliance, air-conditioning equipment, and steel furniture industries. Further, the company tries to maintain and expand a well-balanced customer portfolio that includes not only Japanese companies' plants in the United States but also major domestic firms whose multiple business bases jointly handle large OEMs as well as traditional regional transactions involving sales to small to medium-sized companies.
Each site has been operated as an independent entity from the time the company was founded, but the need to work jointly has increased from the standpoint of dealing with large OEMs, mill strategies, boosting productivity, risk management, and so on, so the company was integrated in 2009. While maintaining the energy yielded by each site's entrepreneurial spirit, the company as a whole has pursued synergies from teamwork, aiming to have the best service centers in the United States and boosting productivity with technical assistance from the Isuzu Group.
Nine U.S. plants have a total of 400 employees.

Coilplus-Ohio's coil yard
Business Opportunities Anticipated in the U.S. Sheet Market
The U.S. sheet market's average annual sales volume from 2004 to 2007 was around 70 million tonnes (of which approximately half, or 35 million tonnes, was sold by service centers), but this was halved in 2009 due to the financial crisis. However, expectations are that sheet demand will gradually rebound in tandem with a slow economic recovery from here on. Business opportunities are foreseen especially in the southern United States due to supply chain changes arising from an increase in regional steel demand related to the new Tennessee plant of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and the construction of new mills or additional facilities by ThyssenKrupp AG, Severstal Columbus LLC, and Nucor Corporation. I think that how this is handled is a big issue for our company as well as a big chance.
Chicago's Short, Beautiful Summer
Coilplus is headquartered in Chicago, where the temperature can drop to around −10ºC for days at a time in winter, and even downtown turns into a snowy landscape. Chicago is also called the Windy City, as can be understood when it seems even colder as a result of the strongly gusting winds. Although you get used to the cold, the long winter is a bit tough to take.
On the other hand, when the long winter ends and early summer arrives, the scenery is quite lovely, particularly along the shores of Lake Michigan. Downtown is very busy every day, whether on weekdays or the weekend, with jazz, blues, and other music events seemingly held daily. Chicago is a big city, but the people and town are quite refined and very friendly.
Chicago pizza is a Chicago specialty and is famous for its generous helpings, but there is an abundant variety of food here, from the familiar American hot dog to premium steak.
Chicago's Grant Park, where outdoor events are held in summer

Jogging path along the Lake Michigan shoreline
San Antonio, Where You Can Even Encounter Wild Animals
Coilplus-Texas, where I worked for around five years, is in San Antonio, a literally scorching place where the weather consists of 300 days of blue skies a year, not much rain, and daily temperatures of over 40ºC from morning to evening in summer. Just a bit outside the city live armadillos, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, scorpions, and other wild animals, which you can even encounter while strolling! Also, deer often stroll around inside the Coilplus-Texas plant, and there was an incident involving a scorpion stinging an employee. (The Texan scorpion's venom is weak, so it did not turn into a serious matter.)
"Everything is big in Texas," as the saying goes, and the large size of everything from homes to shops to supermarkets is amazing. People are affable by nature and appear to lead easygoing lifestyles.
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