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Nucor state's manufacturer of the year
Organizations honor Decatur plant, tout its team approach

By Eric Fleischauer
eric@decaturdaily.com 340-2435

Nucor Steel Decatur LLC won the Manufacturer of the Year Award on Wednesday, beating out all large manufacturers in the state.

The Business Council of Alabama and The Alabama Technology Network presented the award Wednesday evening at the RSA Alabama Activity Center in Montgomery. Norman Mineta, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, gave the keynote address.

Nucor, which employs 633 at its Red Hat Road facility, bought the plant out of bankruptcy in 2002 after Trico Corp. went out of business.

The Trico mini-mill employed 400 before closing its doors. It produced 1.3 million tons of steel a year; Nucor produces 2.2 million tons.

Since coming to Decatur, Nucor has made more than $500 million in capital improvements.

Nucor's success in Decatur is not just historical. It is in the midst of a $167 million, 100-employee expansion that will add a galvanizing facility. When complete, Nucor will produce galvanized steel for the automotive, appliance and construction industries.

Nucor, based in North Carolina, is the largest steel maker in the United States and the 10th largest in the world. Making steel from scrap metal melted in an electric-arc furnace, it is the world's largest recycler.

In presenting the award, BCA and ATN stressed Nucor's team approach to management. Team members make an average annual wage of $75,000, and 60 percent of that amount is in the form of performance bonuses.

It uses the team approach on safety issues as well as operations. Since November 2002, employees at the Decatur plant have worked 5 million man-hours without a lost-time accident.

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Decatur facility the Energy Partner of the Year Award in 2004 for its innovative ideas. Those ideas included using methane gas from a local landfill, saving $1.5 million in natural gas purchases while reducing air pollution emissions. Nucor also reclaimed used oil and initiated a pilot program for using biodiesel fuel in its mobile equipment.

Nucor's Decatur facility contributes more than $100,000 to United Way and $25,000 to the American Cancer Society annually. It has donated computers, instruction manuals, Junior Achievement programs, playground equipment and athletic equipment to West Morgan schools, and helped upgrade the computers in the Decatur City Schools.

Nucor won the award for those manufacturers in the state with 400 or more employees.

Jenkins Brick Co. of Montgomery and Moody won the award for manufacturers with between 100 and 399 employees. A Madison manufacturer, Wildwood Electronics Inc., got the honors in the under-100 category.

Decatur Plastics Inc. of Gadsden won the Emerging Manufacturer of the Year award.

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