Thomas C. Graham Elected to the Steel Hall Of Fame
Thomas C. Graham, former top executive of AK Steel, Armco Co. Steel LP, Jones & Laughlin Steel, U.S, Steel and Washington Steel, joined an elite list of steel industry greats last week, when he was inducted into the American Metal Market Steel Hall of Fame.
Graham, the Hall’s only living inductee, was welcomed with a standing ovation from industry executives gathered at the AMM Awards for Steel Excellence Dinner on June 19th in New York, where he accepted the Hall of Fame plaque and was saluted in tributes presented by James Wainscott, Chairman & CEO, AK Steel and John Surma, Chairman & CEO, US Steel.
“Our company, U.S. Steel, benefitted directly from Mr. Graham’s executive talent. He wanted more productivity, more efficiency from existing assets and people. He wasn’t into investing in gimmicks and hoping for the best,” Surma said during his tribute.
“Mr. Graham’s counseling at a time our industry was languishing was to look in the mirror and not out the window. His advice was right on target more than 25 years ago. And it is still on the mark today, “ Surma added.
James Wainscott echoed these sentiments in recalling Graham’s gutsy rescue and the pivotal role he played in transforming Armco Steel Co. into AK Steel. “When in doubt do something, move, make it happen. Throughout his career, Tom saw what needed to be done. And unlike so many others Tom did act. He was a man of action. And as a result, we are all better for it,” Wainscott said.
“AK Steel would not be here today were it not for the actions of Tom in the early 90s. He got the best out of you as an individual and the best out of his teams. With Tom at the helm, AK Steel went from worst to first, in key measures of performance. He added great value for shareholders and was quick to give credit to everyone else.”
Wainscott went on to share his thoughts on what set Graham apart as a leader throughout his career, “Tom always made it clear that management is not there to manage the status quo. Anybody can do that. Rather, management is there to improve things, each and every day, each and every way. He is a living legend,” Wainscott said. “All of us walk in his shadow.”
Tom Graham’s contributions to and impact on the companies he led, the communities they operated in, and generations of young executives he mentored and helped mold into industry leaders are testimony to his clear-headed decisiveness, genius at restructuring ailing steel facilities, and unrelenting grit. To further celebrate his legendary career, AMM’s Executive Editor will sit down with Mr. Graham in an exclusive interview to get a first-hand chronicle of his experience. The video will be available on amm.com later this summer.
About Thomas C. Graham:
When Tom Graham took the reins at J&L Steel, the company was a “mediocre, mid-range performer.” Ten years later, the difference was dramatic and his imprint unmistakable: a merger with Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. went smoothly, the installation of two continuous casters at the Indiana Harbor plant had introduced the company’s flat-rolled carbon steel business to the efficiency inherent in the revolutionary new technology, and the acquisition of Crucible Steel Co.’s Midland plant breathed new life into J&L’s stainless business.
On Tom’s arrival at U.S. Steel, finished products were being shipped at a rate of 8.0 man-hours per ton. At his retirement in 1991, that measure had been sliced to 4.0 man-hours per ton and U.S. Steel had become a profitable steel company.
In 1992, Tom took the battered helm of Armco Steel Co. When he landed at Armco, the company was losing $50 per ton on shipments in contrast to industry average operating earnings of $20 per ton.
By the time Tom retired from AK Steel those numbers had changed dramatically and, a new public company had been forged in 1997 under his watch. The intervening five years served as testimony once again to the genius of his turnaround skills.
Over the years, Graham has demonstrated an uncanny ability to succeed at identifying, attracting and placing leaders in positions essential to meeting goals and making profits. And in a five-decade-long career that kicked off in 1948, when he was hired as a draftsman in the raw materials engineering department at J&L, Graham has proven to be one of that rarest and most difficult to find of all industry assets: a leader of leaders.
About American Metal Market:
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