May 4, 2009

MSCI’s Forward Magazine Distributes Unusual Centennial Issue at 2009 Annual Meeting

May 04, 2009

MSCI’s Forward Magazine Distributes Unusual Centennial Issue at 2009 Annual Meeting

PHOENIX, Arizona, May 4, 2009 – A special Centennial issue of Forward magazine, including the most comprehensive history of the North American metals supply chain ever assembled, was distributed today to attendees at the 2009 Metals Service Center Institute Annual Meeting.

The history, entitled Links in the Long Chain, was prepared by Bill Barnhart, a former financial columnist for the Chicago Tribune, historian, and freelance writer whose biography of U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will be published early next year by Northern Illinois University Press.

Additional articles in the issue include:

  • A fascinating, 100-year metals timeline of people, events, inventions and more related to the North American metals industry
  • One company’s story – a profile of Norfolk Iron & Metal, which recently celebrated its own centennial, and how it thrives despite its somewhat remote location in northeastern Nebraska
  • A brief history of the Metals Service Center Institute

“Together with other projects for our Centennial, this issue of Forward magazine demonstrates the significance of an industry that has often been overlooked despite the pivotal role it plays in North American manufacturing,” said M. Robert Weidner, III, MSCI’s president and CEO. “We are very proud of the history, timeline and other contributions to industry understanding and pride that our Centennial projects have made.”

To prepare the article, Barnhart interviewed 29 individuals, including retired metals industry executives and those currently in the business; examined the archives of MSCI and its predecessors and those of the former National Association of Aluminum Distributors; combed through a number of newspaper archives; conducted research at the Chicago History Museum, the Regenstein Library and the John Crear Libraries at the University of Chicago, and reviewed books new and old written on metals subjects. “I was surprised by the richness of the history of metals distribution,” he said. “It has been an untold yet timely story of North American manufacturing. After years of dealing with Wall Street sources in my work at the Chicago Tribune, I was delighted by the accessibility and candor of the people who make this business work.”

“In producing this history and our other Centennial projects, we were of course aware of the economic environment and the fact that this is a period of great challenge and hardship for many people and companies in the metals industry,” Weidner said. “By the same token, however, the Centennial is a reminder to us all of just how durable and innovative our industry has been, decade-in and decade-out. The privilege and responsibility of representing our trade association on its 100th birthday fell to us this year, and it is important for us to commemorate our industry’s rich heritage and use that heritage to build for tomorrow.”

The MSCI Centennial commemoration and projects in it were overseen by Ann D’Orazio, the institute’s vice president, marketing and strategic growth; by Weidner, and by a Centennial Advisory Committee chaired by two former MSCI chairmen: Michael Petersen, president of Petersen Aluminum, and Donald R. McNeeley, president and COO of Chicago Tube & Iron.

Founded in 1909, the Metals Service Center Institute has more than 400 members operating from about 1,200 locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere in the world. Together, MSCI members constitute the largest single group of metals purchasers in North America, amounting each year to more than 55 million tons of steel, aluminum, and other metals, with about 300,000 manufacturers and fabricators as customers. MSCI’s membership also includes almost all ferrous and non-ferrous industrial metals producers in North America. Metals service centers inventory and distribute metals and provide first-stage fabrication services.


Jon Kalkwarf, MSCI vice president and CFO, 847-485-3007 or 773-835-6108


Ann D’Orazio, MSCI vice president, marketing and strategic growth, 847-485-3019 or 219-614-3863.