Bouchard’s Back in the Steel Business

Former Esmark executive Craig T. Bouchard has re-entered the steel business with the launch of Shale-Inland and its first acquisitions. Shale-Inland Stamping and Fabricating LLC has purchased the assets of the Illinois Range Co., Injection Plastic Corp., Midland Chutes Inc., Midland Technology Inc., Smithco Fabricators Inc., and Wisconsin Tool and Stamping Co.

With the acquisitions, Shale-Inland Stamping and Fabricating becomes a tier one supplier to the U.S. automotive market, truck and trailer market, high- quality cookware industry and the consumer tool industry. The company also becomes one of the world's largest suppliers of linen and trash chutes to residential and commercial high-rise buildings.

Bouchard, who has been on the sidelines as a result of a non-compete clause stemming from his former company’s sale to Severstal, says the time is right to get back into the steel market.

“My firm belief is we’re on the verge of an American renaissance in manufacturing. We have a very underemployed skilled workforce available at reasonable wages. We have very low natural gas prices in North America, so we’ve got a competitive advantage globally in our energy costs,” he says. “Inventories are low across all big metals and manufacturing sectors. And there is, for the first time, a real trend toward buying in the U.S.”

Bouchard says he and his partners in Shale-Inland, Raj Maheshwari and Philip Gaucher Jr., will continue to expand its holdings throughout the steel supply chain. The overall idea is to be able to occupy multiple value-added positions for customers increasingly looking to remove waste from the supply chain.

“It’s driven by my view of the world that people are out there looking for fewer suppliers. You need to be able to solve more than one problem as they walk through the door,” says Bouchard, who remains an investor in his brother Jim Bouchard’s restarted Esmark Corp., but has no executive role.

Craig Bouchard says besides Shale-Inland’s initial foray into fabricating and stamping, the company will also look into forgings and castings, components and distribution. “Of course we’re interested in distribution. It’s a major piece of the steel marketplace,” he says.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017