Essay about Nucor at a Crossroads

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Nucor at a Crossroads Case Analysis

In 1986, three distinct segments defined the U.S. steel industry; integrated steel mills, mini-mills, and specialty steel makers. The integrated mills have the capacity to produce a maximum of 107 million tons of steel per year, mini-mills produced a maximum of 21 million tons of capacity a year, and the nation’s specialty steel makers could produce a maximum capacity of 5 million tons of stainless and specialty grades of steel. This leads to a total capacity of 133 million tons of production per year. In 1986, the market consumed only 70 million tons of steel, leaving 33 million tons unused. Nucor is at a crossroads. It faces a saturated market suffering from significant overcapacity. Nucor’s
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The threat of substitutes is moderate because buyers have the option of choosing other materials (aluminum, plastics, ceramics, etc.), and new materials technologies are currently being developed and sought after. The threat of suppliers is moderate because iron ore and scrap metal prices are currently high, energy prices are increasing, Nucor pays for transportation of its raw materials to its plants, there is no easy substitute to take the place of iron ore/scrap metal, and there is currently an overabundance of buyers of scrap metal and iron ore. Lastly, the threat of buyers is weak to moderate, because there is excess capacity, low switching costs, few high volume buyers, many low volume customers, strong demand from China, and rising feedstock prices.
With the difficult business landscape in the steel industry, Nucor had to develop competitive advantages over its rivals to achieve its success. These advantages included differentiating itself by being an early adopter of computerized order tracking and allowing customers to make short time orders thus reducing their inventory. Second, it invested in modernization of its plants at an average of 2.9 times its depreciation expenses vs. an averaged of 1.6 of its competitors through the 1970s and 1980s, and refurbished on average a plant a year. Third, Nucor strategically located its plants closer together to share orders for minimal cost and maximum sales, and building new plants in

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