Stelco is one of the most well-known Canadian steel companies and has been in operation for more than a century. Today, the company is an independent, vertically integrated steelmaker that continues to innovate and advance the industry.
While the company has faced many obstacles and gone through many name changes, they remain as a prominent player in the Canadian steel industry.
The History of Stelco
Stelco Holdings Inc. was formerly known as U.S. Steel Canada and, before that, The Steel Company of Canada.
The company was founded in 1910 after a merging of several companies:
- Hamilton Steel and Iron Company
- Dominion Wire Manufacturing Company
- Montreal Rolling Mills
- Canada Screw Company
- Canada Bolt and Nut Company
William McMaster, a Canadian industrialist and banker, and Max Aitken, a New Brunswick financier, made the deal a reality. With the merging of these companies, Stelco was able to realize its long-term plans for heavy investments in steelmaking technology.
Charles S. Wilcox, who was president of the Hamilton Steel and Iron Company at the time, was appointed president of the newly formed company. He remained president until 1916 and then continued as chairman of the board until his death.
In its early years, Stelco enjoyed steady growth and became known for raising industry standards for quality and customer satisfaction.
The company grew to become one of Canada’s leading construction steel manufacturers. They continued to improve their product line’s quality, cost and diversity. Their products made their way into the North American automotive industry along with the appliances, construction, tube and pipe industries.
Through a careful and cautious approach to growth, the company weathered the fall of the western land boom and the economic downturn it faced in the early years of its operation.
The First World War
At the time of the First World War, Stelco rose to the challenge of adapting and scaling its operations to produce shell steel. They began investing in mining operations and diversifying their portfolio of products.
Through careful management, Stelco emerged from the depression of 1921 and 1922 in better shape than its competitors.
Their focus on investing and advancing their technology and equipment helped them stay afloat through the Great Depression that would follow in the 1930s.
World War II pushed Stelco in a new direction. They re-engineered their facilities to meet wartime demands.
The company played an integral role in supplying steel for navy ships, cargo vessels and land transport vehicles during the war.
Although new facilities were built to meet demand and increased production needs, Stelco maintained its pre-war prices and limited its profits during this time.
After the war, Canada saw an economic boom, but the steel industry saw its own unique challenges. Stelco adapted and shifted its focus to the automobile, agriculture and appliance industries.
1960s and 70s
In the 1960s, Stelco became the largest producer of cold-drawn steel and purchased Edmonton-based Premier Steel Mills in 1962.
The company’s workforce doubled in the 1970s, and the Lake Erie Works plant was constructed. The project was considered the largest undertaking in the history of Canadian steelmaking and a marvel of environmental progress.
1980s and 90s
Despite shifting markets and a recession in the 1980s, Stelco continued to innovate and adopt new policies to reduce pollution. Quality control and training were expanded across the board during this time.
In the 1990s, the company faced competition from Asia. Once again, Stelco adapted and re-engineered its facilities to win over contracts. The company continued to stay focused on customer satisfaction and reinvested in its facilities throughout the decade.
2004 and Beyond
Stelco continued to grow and thrive until facing financial difficulty in 2004. The company went under court-ordered protection, and many of its non-core operations were divested.
In 2007, the company was purchased by U.S. Steel for $1.9 billion and renamed U.S. Steel Canada Inc.
After facing difficult market conditions, the company was sold to Bedrock Industries and took its Stelco name once again. An initial public offering in 2017 raised CA$ 200 million.
Industries They Serve
Stelco serves a number of industries, including:
Stelco products are an integral part of the energy sector. They produce hot rolled coils for the oil country tubular goods (OCTG) and line pipe industries.
Stelco uses thermomechanical control processing to increase the strength and durability of its products. Low-temperature toughness makes their products suitable for drilling in cold regions, where fracture resistance, weldability and toughness are crucial.
Stelco’s OCTG products include:
- Natural gas well casing and tubing
- Skelp for oil
Stelco’s high-performance steels meet the demanding needs of the North American automotive industry. The company’s hot-rolled steel products help reduce weight and costs without compromising on quality or performance.
Stelco also produces structural steel grades for use in commercial, residential, industrial and institutional construction. Through advancements in research and technology, Stelco has continued to innovate and push the boundaries of the structural steel industry.
In addition, Stelco offers a line of pre-finished steel products used in a wide range of construction applications.
Stelco was formerly known as U.S. Steel Canada from 2007 through 2016. In 2016, the company was bought by Bedrock Industries of the U.S. and was made public. Stelco made its debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2017.
Although their Hamilton plant hasn’t produced steel in over a decade, its cold rolling finishing work and coke ovens are still in operation.