In this edition of our #DigitalDialogue series of interviews, we had the pleasure of speaking with Leonardo Manzaro, founding partner of ForSteel S.r.l..
ForSteel S.r.l. is involved in the purchase and sale of raw materials for the steel industry for over 10 years, operating in the Brescia area, as well as various international scenarios. ForSteel S.r.l. offers a complete range of products, thanks to a large area used for the storage of materials, with adequate capacity to meet "just in time" requests from steel mills and foundries.
Tell us a bit about yourself: what led you to work in the metal and ferroalloy trade?
"I was born in this sector, with my father working as a Steelworks’ Manager, I could not but undertake this path, I started in Steelworks too, in the chemical laboratory. In the late 80’ and early 90’ I had the opportunity, with one of my father's suppliers, to start the adventure on the other side, as a seller of refractory materials with some marginal sales of ferroalloys. This was until 2009 when, with three other partners, I decided to start this new adventure of pure ferroalloy trading and achieving. During these last years we had very good results".
In which procurement services is ForSteel specialized?
"ForSteel is specialized in bulk (mass alloys) FeSi, FeSiMn, FeMn, FeCr with related refined alloys as Aluminium, etc... We reached a good registration for all alloys imported directly from many manufacturers around the world".
How do you think the covid-19 crisis has impacted the trading industry and what can we learn from the crisis?
"Covid-19 has had a significant impact in all industries. With the collapse of consumption, particularly automotive, and the related collapse of the oil extraction chain, thus damaging steel production, first and foremost, and consequently our market. During the lockdown period our warehouse was stocked with large quantities of material, ordered in previous months, but the deliveries of this material were very diluted, which led to a reduction in turnover. Surely the crisis has imposed us to maintain lighter stocks, bringing us to modify momentarily our commercial strategy of our "Just in Time" flagship approach, that instead requires warehouses always well supplied".
What challenges did you face as a trader during the covid-19 crisis?
"As I was saying above, lowering stocks in stock and trying to pay our suppliers, of which I must say we had a big help, freezing orders and/or shifting deliveries (requests we had from our customers)".
What will be the role of digital technologies in the raw materials trading sector in the years to come?
"Since the commercial, but above all social, scenarios have changed, online is penetrating more and more deeply and quickly into our daily life, not only in work life. Certainly the number of visits to customers has been reduced, even if in my opinion it is still very important to highlight the empathy that is created by seeing clients F2F; in this phase online auctions, to which we are getting more and more accustomed, will be favoured."
What opportunities has Metalshub brought to ForSteel? Do you see it as an opportunity to expand the basket of products you offer?
"The advantage that Metalshub has brought us was that of making us known as well providing us with some customers that we could hardly have contacted in person, perhaps due to lack of contacts or incorrect evaluations on consumption, certainly more interesting than we could have thought... In terms of 'have we expand our product basket', for the moment no; our policy is to import directly without intermediaries and to do this we need to reach registrations for each new material and not always the initial investment (especially at these times) is repaid".
How did Metalshub help ForSteel during the covid-19 crisis?
"Surely Metalshub gave us the opportunity to create new B2B relationships or at least to confirm positions with our customers, especially at these times, as well as providing new opportunities to help keep volumes up, and allow us to confirm market shares that are very important to us".
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