Chicago-based Second City Metals celebrated its 13-year anniversary in July. 

Second City Metals is a national steel distributor that sells 60-inch coil for rectangular duct and slit coil for spiral-duct manufacturers in galvanized, galvannealed, perforated, stainless, aluminum, aluminized, and polyvinyl-coated coils and sheets. In addition, the company sells spiral tube formers and all replacement parts for spiral tube formers.

Second City Metals sells mainly to the HVAC industry. Despite the segment’s struggles, Second City Metals said it continues to add new customers with aggressive and persistent marketing.  

“Just this year we’ve added several customers that we’ve been in contact with for over seven (or) eight years,” said company President Joe Landry. “Of course having competitive prices does help.”

To save customers money, Second City Metals added a Midwest mill a year ago, which eliminated excess freight. As a midsize company in a very competitive industry, Second City Metals has been able to survive the ups and downs over the past 13 years.

Second City Metals said it believes that even in a soft market like today, it’s important to have a strong relationship with your suppliers.  

“We’ve always looked at our vendors as an integral component of being successful,” Landry said. “Of course you have to have customers to survive but having a strong relationship with your vendors is crucial. We’ve almost been loyal to a fault with our vendors but we have a loyal customer base so we want to practice what we preach.”

Those without a strong relationship with their steel supplier will pay for it, Landry said, adding that he likes Second City Metals’ position going forward. In essence, Second City Metals is managing their customers’ inventory by purchasing more when steel prices are expected to increase and buying less when prices are expected to drop.

“Even though I feel relationships drive business, pricing ultimately seems to be the deciding factor for most sheet metal shops,” he said.