Leon Topalian, president and chief executive of Nucor Corporation in the USA, has spoken out about the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that it 'has touched the lives of almost everyone in some way'.
"We would be remiss not to acknowledge the physical, mental and emotional toll so much of the world is experiencing," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are fighting COVID-19 and our condolences are with the victims of this terrible virus and the families and friends who mourn them. We are in awe of those on the front lines – the healthcare workers and first responders – who are tirelessly working to save lives and end this pandemic.
"Over these last several weeks, the spirit of Nucor's culture has been on full display. Our teammates are not only continuing to serve our customers, but they are also living up to our deeply shared sense of responsibility to the communities in which we operate and live. I want to thank my teammates who have had to change how they work but have not changed the quality and timeliness of what they produce. I also want to thank our customers for their support and continued business in this challenging time and look forward to building even more powerful long-term partnerships. I am confident that we will get through this crisis and emerge stronger from it, by living our culture every day, staying focused and taking care of each other."
Nucor has formed an internal task force to monitor developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide guidance to Nucor facilities. The company's facilities around the country have taken steps to respond to COVID-19 based on the nature of their operations and the actions being taken by their state and local governments. Travel has been restricted, cleaning practices upgraded and remote working implemented where possible. The company claims it is committed to protecting its teammates while minimising disruptions to its customers and supply chain.
Shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders have been implemented in most of the states where Nucor operates production facilities. Because Nucor has been deemed an essential or life-sustaining operation, the company is maintaining production operations sufficient to meet customers' ongoing needs.
Nucor's direct reduced iron ("DRI") facility in Trinidad stopped production on 30 March to comply with the country's stay-at-home orders. Its DRI facility in Louisiana halted production on 2 April in response to market conditions and out of concern for the health and safety of its employees in an area of the country that has experienced a particularly aggressive outbreak of COVID-19 cases. The company's Louisiana DRI facility resumed production operations on 25 April with additional procedures in place to help protect employee at that facility.
Nucor claims that COVID-19's effect on market conditions has been varied, citing the sharpest declines in the automotive and energy sectors, while non-residential construction (Nucor's largest market) has shown resiliency. The company believes that any impacts on the non-residential construction sector will be delayed rather than cancelled.
Financially, Nucor fully expects to report a loss for Q2 2020. It believes that the duration of the COVID-19 downturn is difficult to predict, but that market conditions will bottom in Q2 and return to profitability in the second half of this year.