Executive Leadership Series Spring 2019: Chuck Schmitt
Each semester, the Mitchell College of Business hosts the Executive Leadership Series (ELS). This event provides our students with the opportunity to learn first-hand from leading executives as they discuss their careers and leadership experiences. Their experiences bridge the gap between the classroom and the corporate world. Students are able to gain insight on how to actually put this knowledge into practice.
On February 21, 2019, the college of business hosted the spring ELS featuring Chuck Schmitt, President, SSAB Americas. SSAB has been producing steel since 1878 and produces approximately 8.8 tons of steel annually. The company is the number one producer of steel plate and coil in North America. With locations from Mobile, AL, to Sweden, they have over 15,000 professionals in over 50 countries, totaling over 500 processing facilities. They produce steel for customers such as John Deere, Caterpillar, Komat’su, and TrinityRail.
The company aims to build a, “stronger, lighter, and more sustainable world,” says Schmitt. His lecture focused on SSAB’s strategy to meet customer needs through high-performance, energy efficient processes that lead to top-quality products. The company is ranked #1 in quality against industry competitors and has received numerous supplier awards.
Schmitt emphasized that the words “stronger” and “lighter” both describe SSAB’s product development. SSAB concentrates on meeting these two requirements while focusing on sustainability. Schmitt said, “The world needs sustainable solutions. But, the world wants lighter solutions…The steels that are being developed for building bridges are not terribly different from the steel being developed for military ships: Increased speed without compromising durability-Must be lighter than before but still be much stronger.”
Not only does the steel have to be stronger and lighter, its production needs to be sustainable. SSAB won the AMM award for Steel Excellence for Environmental Responsibility/Stewardship in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Schmitt emphasized, “Our steel turns something old into something new.” Through the use of scrap metal recovered from landfills, discarded appliances, old car parts and more, SSAB American steel is made from 100 percent recycled materials. Schmitt said, “It goes through a lot of processing but is completely sustainable.”
In addition to recycling, the company also reduces its footprint by the use of renewable energy. Working closely with Alabama Power, 60 percent of the Mobile plant’s power comes from renewable energy sources. The company produces steel used for wind towers. Producing 50 percent of the steel used in wind towers, SSAB is the single largest supplier for General Electric.
Being one of the world leaders in environmental technology sustainability, Sweden provides the perfect location for sustainable product development. SSAB’s Swedish operations are piloting a new technology for steel production, which reduces the use of fossil fuels and is completely emission free. The company hopes to demonstrate this process by 2025.