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Nucor Steel – Hertford Galvanizes Community, North Carolina Manufacturing

| Manufacturing

Manufacturing is a critical component of North Carolina’s economy.

A visit to Nucor Corporation’s steel mill in Hertford County is all you need to know the future for manufacturing is as bright as the hot steel plates the company produces.

“Wow,” said Gary Salamido, president and CEO of the NC Chamber. “It is something that is magnificent to see.”

NC Chamber representatives, along with state and local officials, got a firsthand look inside Nucor Steel – Hertford and what makes the company a success.

The Hertford County mill, which began operating in September 2000, manufactures steel plates using recycled scrap metal as its primary raw material.

Those plates are used in making bridges, heavy equipment, offshore wind towers, and are also used protect our nation’s soldiers and sailors in armored vehicles, destroyers and aircraft carriers – such as the $13 billion USS Gerald Ford, which was the first new aircraft carrier designed in over 40 years and deployed in October 2022.

“If you look back 100 years ago, a lot of folks still have that as the mindset of what manufacturing is,” said Reed Raggio, the maintenance and engineering manager at Nucor’s Hertford County facility in Cofield. “Then, you look at the environmentally friendly way Nucor makes its steel and the quality of life that you have inside and outside of work based on the job that you do, the pay that we’re able to give our teammates, the benefits, the work-life balance with schedules, manufacturing is a different world now than it was 100 years ago.”

One of Nucor’s key tenets is based on its pay-per-performance bonus system and profit sharing.

“Nucor believes that if you pay people well, they will perform well and that you will get a high output and you’ll get people who are loyal and stay with the company,” said Yusef Murphy, controller at the Cofield facility. “That’s evidenced by the fact that most of the teammates that I’ve interacted with have been here for 10 to 20 years.”

Nucor employs more than500 people in Hertford County and company managers say the mill’s performance has resulted in its production teammates earning an average annual compensation that is over six figures.

The company also shares profits annually, returning a record $959 million to employees in 2022.

“One of the most rewarding things is we’ve hired several young teammates from local businesses that in a single profit-sharing check was more than they made the entire year prior,” said Raggio.

That, combined with Nucor’s commitment of not laying off teammates even if the economy takes a downturn – the company did not lay off single teammate even during the Great Recession in 2009-2010 – creates a culture that has business and political leaders taking notice.

“Between the personal opportunities it’s created for me and my family, the opportunities that Nucor creates for our communities, and the opportunities to grow our company and continue to make impacts in the areas that we live and serve, to me it’s all about opportunity,” said Raggio.

Nucor teammates do not need to have a college degree.

“One of the things about Nucor is there is a lot of on-the-job training,” said Murphy. “There are a lot of skills which are transferable from other industries.”

That training has led to a great track record on safety.

“I feel like the way we show we care for each other is the way we keep each other safe,” said Murphy. “Nucor cares about its people. Nucor cares about how we manage and engage with our team. It is a family environment.”

Nucor first laid its foundation in North Carolina in 1966, when the company set up its headquarters in Charlotte. In the decades since then, Nucor has grown into the largest steel producer in the United States and the largest recycler of any material in the Western Hemisphere and one of the top-five recyclers in the world.

In addition to its Hertford County facility, Nucor operates 25 additional steel mills (all located in the U.S.), that produce more than one-quarter of America’s raw steel using scrap metal as that primary raw material.

And Nucor isn’t stopping there, as it has more great things in store for North Carolina.

Nucor is currently in the process of building a new $350 million steelmaking facility in Lexington, which by the beginning of 2025, will create 200 new manufacturing jobs and produce rebar to be used for the construction of roads, bridges, buildings, other critical infrastructure in the South Atlantic Region. The rebar made in Davidson County will have nearly 100% recycled content and will be 100% recyclable at its end of life – making it one of the most sustainable steel products in the world.

“We’re so proud of the manufacturers in North Carolina,” said Salamido. “They’re the backbone of communities all across our state.”

Salamido added that seeing Nucor’s Hertford County mill in person provides invaluable perspective.

“We can talk from very specific experience now about what this means and why there need to be regulations that are fair, that are understood, why the permitting process needs to be modernized, why we need to make sure we stay competitive,” he said.

As successful as N.C. manufacturing has been, there is more work to be done.

“In just having conversations with some of the NC Chamber representatives today, we recognize how important their presence is for just helping with some of the mechanics for how you do business in the state,” said Murphy. “Permitting, regulatory issues, resources, and then also the communication, getting the word out about some of the things that Nucor can bring to the table so that they can get the right people at the right table at the right times.”

Salamido agreed, saying, “We can get everything else right, but unless our education, public and private, and our workforce systems and our training systems are all aligned and are driven by data in communities and regions to what those need, then we’re not going to be as competitive.”

But, for a state competing to be named the Best State for Business by CNBC for the third year in a row, that future for manufacturing sure does look bright.

Learn more about the NC Manufacturing Tour