STI Member Profile: MAC and MOST: Steel Industry Leadership in Collaboration, Community and Sustainability

Brian Saunders, vice president of Maruichi American Corporation (MAC) and Maruichi Oregon Steel Tube (MOST), discusses their dedication to sustainability, product offerings and the value of being an STI member.

Brian Saunders - MAC & MOST
Brian Saunders, Vice President of Maruichi American Corporation (MAC) and Maruichi Oregon Steel Tube (MOST)

In the dynamic landscape of steel tube manufacturing, Maruichi Oregon Steel Tube (MOST) in Portland, Oregon, and Maruichi American Corporation (MAC) in Santa Fe Springs, California, epitomize the essence of collaboration, community and commitment to excellence. Under the overarching umbrella of Maruichi Steel Tube Limited in Osaka, Japan, these two companies share a consistent mission: to be among the best mills on the West Coast, focusing on safety awareness, sustainability and product quality.

At the helm of both companies is Brian Saunders, the vice president, with nearly two decades of experience in the steel industry. In a recent discussion, he shared insights into his journey, the distinctive features that set MAC and MOST apart, and the industry’s evolution.

Navigating 20 Years of Industry Evolution
Brian has witnessed the ebb and flow of the steel market and has seen its resilience and ability to weather downturns and celebrate peaks. Reflecting on his diverse journey from manufacturing to service centers and now overseeing Maruichi’s operations, Brian emphasized the value of understanding the industry from multiple perspectives.

In a candid exchange about market dynamics, Brian identified key factors currently influencing demand in the steel industry, notably the impact of inflation and cautious financial practices due to rising interest rates. The unpredictability of the market, exacerbated by external factors such as the United Auto Workers strike, led to a turbulent 2023 marked by frequent fluctuations in demand. Despite the challenges, Brian remains optimistic about a turnaround, anticipating a release of pent-up demand once economic conditions stabilize. He says, “In 20 years, we’ve seen the worst of the worst and the best of the best. There have been a lot of changes and consolidation in the steel industry.”

MOST - Maruichi Oregon Steel Tube logo

Product Offerings: Tailoring to Construction and OEM Markets
MAC and MOST offer a range of tubing products tailored to meet specific market demands. At MOST, the product lineup encompasses 3/4” square through 10” square and 1/2” wall thickness tubes, with a focus on structural applications. The facility operates two distinct mills: one for ornamental tubing and another for structural tubing. The primary materials used at MOST are A513 for ornamental tubing, A500 grades B and C for structural tubing and handrail, or CSA G40 for the Canadian market. They conduct longitudinal coupon (LCVN) tests for category one through four for low-temperature applications and can also produce A1085.

MemLogo Maruichi American Corp Logo STI Member Profile: MAC and MOST: Steel Industry Leadership in Collaboration, Community and Sustainability

MAC has five production lines and boasts a slightly broader size range from 1/2” square to 10” square in grades A513, A500 grades B and C, and grade 70 for high-strength applications. MAC also offers specialty rectangles and customer-specific shapes, providing unique options such as ovals crafted for specific clients. MAC produces both ornamental and structural tubing, with three lines dedicated to ornamental production.

The size range offered by MAC and MOST aligns well with the construction industry’s needs as well as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and fabricators. Approximately 90% of MAC’s and MOST’s business is directed through service centers, emphasizing their focus on material distribution.

Global Collaboration: A Key to Innovation
Although MAC and MOST are squarely focused on regional sales, their parent company, Maruichi, has a global presence with 20 mills worldwide. The interconnected network facilitates the exchange of ideas, best practices and a collaborative approach to innovation. Brian emphasized the valuable role played by counterparts in Japan, where safety awareness and innovation seamlessly transcend borders, and he credits the global setup for fostering a forward-thinking mindset and ensuring that MAC and MOST remain at the forefront of technological advancements within the industry. He says, “There are different ideas out there, and we try to implement everything we possibly can here. I try to mimic things that are working at the other mills to make both companies better.”

Dedication to Sustainability: A Driving Force
Maruichi’s dedication to sustainability serves as a driving force for innovation within both MAC and MOST, whose practices reflect the industry’s responsibility as environmental stewards. Initiatives such as the Buy Clean California Act have propelled the companies to actively engage in sustainability efforts. They have taken significant steps in partnership with STI, such as the development of facility-specific Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). Taking that even further, MAC and MOST aim to reduce scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions by 46% by 2030.

Brian favors the increased emphasis on sustainability despite the challenges. He says, “We all have to be stewards of the environment and be proactive in creating a more environmentally friendly way to produce steel tubing. This causes our buyers to think more about where we buy our coil. Where is it coming from? How far does it need to travel to us? How is it produced? Although it is important, we can no longer think about only the best price.”

Recognizing the necessity of environmental consciousness, he emphasizes that becoming better stewards of the environment is crucial for creating a better world and expresses optimism about the impact of sustainability measures, stating, “It is really for the better. I believe the U.S. has the cleanest steel in the world. We do a good job regulating it, and, again, it is everyone’s duty to do better.”

The Role of STI
Brian sees STI as a crucial resource for the steel tubing industry, saying, “STI is a great advocate for the steel tubing world. The organization pushes hard for us.” He specifically noted the significant role STI played in MAC’s and MOST’s development of facility-specific EPDs and the role STI plays in facilitating collaboration among producers, fabricators and specifiers such as architects. All these efforts create a platform to address industry challenges, share valuable insights and foster innovation.

Resilience in a Changing World
MAC and MOST exemplify resilience and adaptability in an ever-evolving industry. Brian’s insights provide a glimpse into the core values of parent company Maruichi: a commitment to people, a global perspective, dedication to sustainability, and a proactive approach to industry challenges. As the steel industry continues to transform, leaders like Brian and companies like MAC and MOST are poised to navigate challenges and lead the way toward a sustainable and innovative future.

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