“2021 was our best business year ever,” Michael J. Amato, president of Camden Yards Steel Company at the South Jersey Ports’ Broadway Terminal proclaimed proudly as he cast an optimistic but cautious eye toward 2022.
Sales volumes and imported tonnage of steel all hit record levels in 2021 for the family-owned-and-operated steel fabricator which, in turn, contributed in part to an overall record tonnage year for the South Jersey Ports. The company increased its steel imports by 20% to 200,000 tons last year.
Camden Yards Steel is an International Organization for Standards (ISO) certified prime flat rolled steel service company that specializes in the processing and distribution of full truckload quantities flat rolled steel. With over fifty years of experience in the steel industry, they service customers across the entire United States and parts of the Mid-Atlantic region.
“Camden Yards Steel has been a great long-term partner of ours and is an example of the type of family-owned business that is the backbone of our economy,” said Andy Saporito, Executive Director and CEO of South Jersey Port Corporation. “We congratulate them on their record-breaking year and look forward to continuing to support their growth and success.”
“Our business has grown steadily since we opened in 2002 and we just invested another $10 million in our Camden facility to upgrade our equipment and sharpen our business in a very competitive sector that demands high quality and tight margins,” Amato added.
The investment has increased efficiency and productivity and propelled Camden Yards into a new business sector of galvanized steel for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) manufacturers where other long-time suppliers, according to Amato, had grown complacent.
“We are very, very service oriented and very, very customer-oriented,” he boasted. “We showed we provide service and quality at a competitive price and as a result our galvanized steel business has grown consistently and dramatically, from 200 tons a month six years ago to 4,000 tons a month last year and it keeps growing from Maine to Florida to Ohio,” he said. “The leadership at South Jersey Ports helped us find laydown space to support our business growth, which was appreciated given the overall space constraints at ports nationwide.”
While optimistic about the future, the steel-eyed businessperson in Amato is cautious about predicting a consecutive record-breaking year in 2022. While it would be nice, realistically businesses just do not keep having endless record-breaking years especially in a business hostage to variables in steel prices.
Camden Yards, with fifty full-time employees to support in Camden, was able to navigate the whipsaw impacts of COVID, steel tariffs, supply-chain shortage in 2021 in which steel prices rose to $1.00 a pound with pent up demand; and then, suddenly dropped to 30-cents a pound, sticking the company with high priced inventory to meet its commitments.
“Half of our business is contractual, and half is transactional,” he explained. “We are committed to our customers to deliver what we said we would deliver, when we said we deliver and at the price we agreed on.”
It just happens that the price for steel goes way, way too high and then suddenly goes way, way too low.
“We try to buy on the down but it’s like trying to catch a falling knife without getting cut,” Amato explained. Sometimes you catch the handle, sometimes you don’t. Whatever, the outcome, Amato protects his customers. “That’s how we earn the trust and business of our customers,” he said. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to have a major impact on the world economy in 2022, especially on steel prices. “We don’t use Russian steel for our products, so we don’t anticipate any dramatic impact for our customers, but we’ll deal with whatever high and lows as we have in the past. It’s the nature of our business.”