Success Stories

Olympic Steel Flawless execution (Fe) Awards

What is Fe?

On the periodic table, “Fe” is the symbol for Iron, the most common element on Earth. At Olympic Steel, Fe is the symbol for Flawless execution, our way of recognizing employee excellence in helping our Company grow safely and profitably.

What is the Fe Award?

Each quarter, Olympic Steel employees are encouraged to nominate themselves or their co-workers to recognize projects and initiatives that accomplish at least one of the following objectives:

  • Improve safety
  • Control expenses
  • Perform flawlessly for internal or external customers

Fe Award Winners receive an award, certificate, gift certificate for branded Company promotional merchandise and a CASH prize. And, we’ve added a new recognition category. Nominees who earn an Honorable Mention will receive a certificate and gift certificate for branded Company promotional merchandise.

Click here to learn more. 

Nominate yourself, your team or a colleague now! The deadline for nominations is the last Friday of each quarter. 


Want to know more about the program?  Contact the HR team with questions at 216.242.2886 (internal extension 19780) or by emailing


2nd Quarter 2020 Fe Award Winners

McCullough Industries – Kenton, OH: Mark Stephens

Forming a part on the brake press creates a potential pinch point. To reduce the risk to operators when working with small parts, McCullough’s Mark Stephens, Machine Operator, made a jig (or table) that provides an area for small parts to rest on during the form process. Using the jig also clears the operator’s hand from the potential pinch point during operation.

Lesson Learned:

When we identify a potential safety risk, sometimes all we need is a simple solution. In McCullough’s case, the solution to this safety problem was literally at their fingertips.

Olympic Steel – Corporate: Kevin Kozel

The Bettendorf, IA temper mill is one of the organization’s largest assets. When the temper mill planner position was left open with little notice, Kevin Kozel, a Corporate Business Analyst who was at the division for unrelated training, came to the rescue. He worked with Sales and Operations to plan production for the Temper Mill, and when he knew his assistance was still needed, he extended his stay for another week. The division identified an internal candidate to fill the position and Kevin trained the new planner so the employee would be successful on her own after Kevin left. When Kevin returned to Cleveland, he continued to proactively monitor the production planning activities and provide additional training and support as needed.

Lesson Learned:

Watching for an opportunity to lend your expertise or skills – and then doing it – is a great way to get your contributions recognized and support the success of the entire team.

Olympic Steel – Minneapolis, MN and Bettendorf, IA Team: Will Robbins, Robert Erion, Betsy Mohrman, Scott Fuller, Josh Rodriguez, Chuck Stipanovich

When Olympic Steel’s Bettendorf, IA division was challenged to meet new requirements for a key account, a team from the Minneapolis, MN and Bettendorf, IA facilities implemented a Six Sigma methodology to address the issues and ensure their solutions would be sustainable by establishing new overall processes, rather than responding to each individual issue identified. The results of the project exceeded the customers’ expectations in both the availability of data and the timing. Olympic Steel is one of six suppliers in our category that supports this key account. At the end of the process review, the customer informed the group that they were reducing their suppliers from six to three, and the action taken by the Olympic Steel team (Will Robbins, MN Process Engineer; Robert Erion, MN Safety and Project Manager; Betsy Mohrman, IA Inside Sales Representative, Sr.; Scott Fuller, IA Production Supervisor; Josh Rodriguez, IA Quality Assurance Technician; and Chuck Stipanovich, IA Operations Manager) put them in the running to become one of the three remaining suppliers.

Lesson Learned:

When a customer challenges us, the best option is to exceed their expectations. And, when we are able to collaborate with another division, taking advantage of additional skill sets and expertise in the process, even better! One way or another, our performance is always being evaluated.

Olympic Steel – Bettendorf, IA: Carl Williams

Bettendorf’s Carl Williams, Production Supervisor, noticed that scrap was disproportionately high compared to the weight of a coil. Through his own research and investigation, Carl learned more about how others have improved their processes and reduced scrap costs. First, he began entering actual weights instead of theoretical weights and recording all transactions to reflect the actual weight of the coils. Then, he identified that reducing the scrap from the mill reduces the scrap costs associated with the material, and when the scrap cost is lower, overall material cost is lower, thus increasing the gross margin on the material. He worked with accounting to track data weekly to make the right decisions and Carl’s diligence will generate an estimated $812,681 annually in scrap cost savings.

Lesson Learned:

When it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Follow-up your gut feeling with data to identify improvements that affect the bottom line.

Olympic Steel – Detroit, MI: John Prater

COVID-19 impacted Detroit tremendously. The Detroit facility was a “hot spot” for infections – tackling the challenges of the pandemic before many of Olympic Steel’s other divisions were faced with customer shutdowns or stringent state and local health and safety requirements.  As key auto-maker accounts temporarily closed and the Detroit facility’s core business shut for nearly two months, John Prater, Operations Manager, led a small team of 6 in keeping all aspects of the operations running to meeting the needs of customers still in operation. John and his team also helped to develop and piloted several of the pandemic health and safety protocols implemented across Olympic Steel. During a truly unprecedented time and with no “playbook” to pull from, John’s quick thinking, creativity and exceptional leadership allowed the Detroit operation to safely serve its customers and implement new building features and protocols to protect the health and well-being of employees as they returned to the facility.

Lesson Learned:

Zig Zigler once said, “Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise.” When you’re faced with unfamiliar situations, focus on what’s within your control and get the job done. Sometimes, you can’t wait to be told what to do or for a specific playbook to follow.

Olympic Steel – Mt Sterling, KY Team: Bobby King, Ben Vice, Ronald Roberts, Roland Kemp, Dustin Moore, Raymond Sutton, Josh Jamison

A lack of space in Mount Sterling’s kitting area created inefficiencies in kitting and challenges meeting customer specifications. The Mount Sterling team comprised of Bobby King, Sr. Production Supervisor; Ben Vice, Shop Helper; Ronald Roberts, Shop Helper; Roland Kemp, Production Lead; Dustin Moore, Shop Helper; Raymond Sutton, Shop Helper; and Josh Jamison, Production lead identified the issues and swapped the kitting and custom tool areas, creating an additional 96 inventory locations for the kitting group. This monumental task involved relocating hundreds of rack locations and inventory, organizing and identifying what was on the shelf and cleaning the floor. The kitting process is now more efficient, because employees aren’t searching for parts or purchasing items they already had but couldn’t quickly locate when needed. The changes also created additional floor space for both programs, making the warehouse safer and more efficient.

Lesson Learned:

Taking the extra time to evaluate the function and flow of an area may require more work in the present but will result in greater efficiencies in the future.

Olympic Steel – Schaumburg, IL Team: Chuck LaTour and Patrick Bradshaw

The Schaumburg, IL Division’s growth and added specialty metals processing over the past 18 months also came with added packaging costs. The Division’s lumber expense increased by nearly 15% over this time. Patrick Bradshaw, Second Shift Supervisor, volunteered to re-source and purchase lumber. Chuck LaTour, Operations Manager, helped Patrick by providing vendor contact names. Even before new prices were negotiated, Patrick lowered expenses by approximately 3% through more efficient purchasing practices. He then contacted three vendors for competitive prices and secured a 20% cost reduction, saving the division an estimated $200,000 annually. The savings will also be realized at the Gary and Berlin divisions with an additional $50,000 annual cost reduction in the region.

Lesson Learned:

It costs nothing to request a quote; reviewing purchasing procedures and suppliers can reap big rewards.

2Q 2020 Fe Award of Excellence – Honorable Mentions

Click here to read their stories.