Our Mission

When building and creating any company you must create and execute a mission. To drive that mission forward you must have committed and engaged teammates who not only have the necessary skills but also have a passion to achieve the mission every day.

“We know that always striving for perfection is a challenging goal. However, we believe that in that journey we will always be improving, delivering on our promises today and looking for ways to get better tomorrow.” Said Optimus Steel’s CEO Jim Kerkvliet.

Optimus Steel declares its mission is to outperform the steel industry in safety, value, quality, and innovation. This will be done in compliance with the values of Honesty, Responsibility, Excellence, Passion, and Teamwork, committed to fulfilling applicable regulations and laws for safety, quality, and the environment.

The values of Optimus Steel are on display by the employees and the leadership team. The leadership team has committed to providing the necessary resources to promote health, safety, high quality products, and environmental sustainability.

Embodying the core values is essential to joining the Optimus Steel team:

Honesty – Communicating and promoting safety with integrity. Acting ethically and challenging behaviors that go against the core values of the company.

Responsibility – Committing ourselves to our business in a way where everyone will benefit. Assuming the consequences of our actions. Understanding your duties and doing the best possible.

Excellence – Focusing on the continued improvement of the company, using our intuition, creativity, and perseverance. Overcome obstacles to meet goals. Proposing creative ideas or solutions to problems, challenges, and opportunities.

Passion – Giving our maximum effort for our company and taking pride in being a part of Optimus Steel. Persevere in the face of daily challenges and always searching for solutions.

Teamwork – Collaborating effectively and constructively with others for the achievement of common goals. Sharing the processes from other areas. Supporting and motivating coworkers to be better and more effective every day. Service before self.

Our Mill, Our Company!

Optimus Steel employees are responsible for building the culture of accountability where safety and well-being of our team is paramount, our products meet 100% of accepted requirements, and the environment is protected. All these responsibilities are carried out with the commitment of continuous improvement, giving our maximum effort and taking pride being part of the Optimus Steel team.

The Optimus Steel Community

Community is defined as “a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and/or goals.” That is exactly the type of environment Optimus Steel is working to create. Optimus Steel has invested in a safe and efficient environment while striving to foster a sense of family and community with all employees.
Optimus Steel has also invested in offering a wide variety of community building programs and projects for the community of employees and the surrounding community as well.

This month Optimus Steel hosted a Stuffed Animal Drive to support the Buckner House. The Buckner House is in Beaumont and all donations will strongly benefit the children in this community.

“Buckner works to protect some of the most vulnerable children in our society. Children come into our care because of abuse, neglect or drugs in the home, and they are unsure of what their future holds. One of the ways we soften the transition is by giving them the comfort of a stuffed animal. Often these stuffed animals are something they keep with them into adulthood.”

On October 6th, Optimus Steel took part in the Gift of Life Julie Richardson Procter 5k Color Run. The run takes place in downtown Beaumont. The color run benefits those fighting breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers in southeast Texas. Sign up to join us at the HR office!

“Since 1994, the Gift of Life Program has helped extend the lives of more than 275 medically underserved women and men by providing free mammograms and prostate cancer screenings. In addition to the critical health care services, the organization also offers Southeast Texans extensive educational outreach programming that focuses on cancer awareness and prevention.”

Optimus Steel is also involved in sponsoring the Senior Engineering Project at Lamar University. Two Optimus Steel employees will be sharing the $5,000 sponsorship for their projects. John Ingram and Jed Andresio are the two lucky recipients of this special sponsorship!

Optimus Indoor Soccer Night was created and has been hosted throughout the month of September. The Beaumont Indoor Soccer Complex has been the setting for many team fun-filled nights. The unique mix between life-long players and new players looking to have fun with their co-workers has made for a great season so far. Next up will be will be the Optimus Basketball team! We will share updates for that season and locations as soon as possible.

In addition to all these amazing initiatives by Optimus Steel, we hosted Employee Appreciation Week last week. Even though it was a rainy day, that didn’t stop us from showing our employees what they mean to us.

To be a part of the community is always an important part of owning a business, but to create an internal community to support the values of the company is vital to its success. Optimus Steel is truly invested in being involved in both the local community and its internal community. Honesty, Responsibility, Excellence, Passion, and Teamwork are inscribed on the sign in front of Optimus Steel, but those traits are truly embodied by its employees. We are thankful for all our employees and can’t wait to continue to grow our internal community.

Environmental Stewardship at Optimus Steel

Life at Optimus Steel can be unpredictable and exciting every single day. Nobody knows that better than longtime employee Jack D. Huffman. He is the Environmental Specialist Coordinator. In this article, we want to highlight the work Jack and his department does, but more importantly we want to make everyone aware of the legacy he has created, a legacy that will continue after his well-deserved retirement in October of this year. Huffman has dedicated 43 years of his life to the mill, in fact, he is employee number 001 and proudly shares this fact in addition to carrying his employee tag every day. Jack started his career as an hourly employee running the onsite water treatment plant. He was responsible for the treatment and discharge of all the water at the plant. After working at the water treatment plant, Jack became responsible for the water treatment program managing all the potable and process water including working with the City of Beaumont, the Sabine River Authority and contractors to make sure the plant always had good quality water. When Jack became a salary exempt employee, he took on many more environmental responsibilities, such as waste and air compliance, spill response, special environmental projects, and wildlife protection.

Environmental Specialist Coordinator

“Environmental is everything, it is a lot like safety, everyone is responsible”, said Huffman. Huffman explained how important constant and consistent training is to that responsibility. He further explained how he must be tough, but fair. This is done with the utmost effort to ensure employees, the nearby Neches River and surrounding wildlife are kept as safe and unaffected as possible.

Huffman said, “It is important to hold everyone accountable to the same standard, even if it means shutting down production.”
“By the book” is the way Huffman works with employees even if that means the “book” of new regulations are regularly being changed. He is responsible for helping the Environmental Department constantly update their strategies and techniques to ensure these new regulations are complied with. Huffman attributes his longevity with the mill to this ever-changing “book” of regulations and his commitment to ensuring the environment is protected.

To maintain the wastewater and stormwater the environmental department runs more than 11,000 analysis a year which include checking metal, oil grease, and PH levels of the water twice a week. All the tests and regulations are only part of the job though, Huffman informs us. His job also includes removing snakes and other critters from offices, equipment, and other areas of the mill, then releasing them back into a safe environment.

Huffman fondly recalls a time where he had to herd a 5ft long female alligator that was resting in the middle of the road. He states he helped move her back into her environment with nothing but a PVC pipe to guide her. “You know what an alligator that size wants to do after taking a couple of steps? She wants to lay back down and rest!” he said laughing.

Another time, it was a group of cats that had decided to make the mill their new home. The amazing employees of Optimus Steel stepped up and showed how they not only have a strong work ethic but also hearts of gold. A few employees adopted the cats and kittens into their own homes.

There are many more stories just like these that show the true commitment Optimus Steel and its employees have to preserving and enriching the environment, with all of them supporting the vision of “Striving for Perfection in Everything We Do”, but none more than Jack Huffman. Thank you Jack for your service, your commitment to the team and the environment and the legacy you are leaving us!

#OurMillOurCompany

The Steel Impact in Your Life

As consumers, business owners, employees, builders, and environmentally aware people we must push ourselves to ask, “How does this impact me?”. In the steel industry, there are often hidden values and economic advantages that we may not have considered or realized. Understanding how steel impacts everything from the car you drive to the fence around your yard to the farming equipment that was used to harvest the food you eat every day, can truly show you how invested we are as a society in the steel industry.
Steel in the form of ferrous scrap is the most recycled material in the United States and worldwide. In 2016 alone, the U.S Geological Survey estimated 65 million metric tons of iron and steel scrap were processed in America. Ferrous scrap refers to recycled steel that comes from many sources with the largest being used automobiles. That means each time a car you own is processed due to accident or age or defect, you are directly taking part in the world’s largest recycling supply chain.

The metallurgical properties within steel allow it to be recycled many times without compromising its quality. Virtually every steel item purchased is therefore recycled in some capacity. Steel.org reported that 90% of appliances are recycled in North American processing plants each year. Recycling this steel contributes to saving the energy needed to create steel from raw materials. This equates to enough energy to power 18 million homes.
On average new vehicles purchased today contain about 60% steel, most of which is recycled. However, today’s steel differs from the steel of 50+ years ago. According to Worldsteel.org, steel is now up to 30% stronger and more dent resistant while still being about 25% lighter. So, every new car on the road now is a more recycled product than in the last 50+ years due to the American Steel Industry’s initiative in recycling. Just one recycled car produces enough recycled steel to produce more than 4 steel utility poles.

50% of the world’s steel is used within the housing industry according to the WorldSteel.org. While being an optimal recycled and sustainable product to use within a home, it also has many long-term effects that benefit homeowners. Steel frames within the house produce a safety feature in earthquake and fire disasters. It also combats termites within the home. This saves homeowners time, money, and peace of mind when it comes to the integrity and value of their home.

Steel is also imperative in the food industry. When opening the pantry at your own home, you will likely see many canned food items. Due to the amazing innovation of steel within cans for food items they do not need to be refrigerated. This prevents food waste and cuts down on energy used to preserve the food within a refrigerator.
The steel advances mentioned earlier in this article noted the new version of steel that is on the market today and its stronger and lighter benefits. This directly correlates to the savings it can have for builders, particularly of large projects like bridges. In addition, many builders are creating safer ways for steel foundations to absorb shocks and movement from climate change and earthquakes. In the long-term, it will help create safer structures for all that use them.

Many that work within the steel industry feel a great sense of pride in what they do, and now knowing just how much of an impact they have on the daily lives of American’s, I think you can understand why. Next time you open a canned food item, get in your car, turn on a household appliance, drive on a bridge, or see a house being built, just remember these are just a few of the ways the steel industry is involved in supporting our lives as we know them.

Summer, Sun and Optimus Steel Safety

On a Texas Day in August, employees of Optimus Steel arrive at work in perfect 70-degree weather while the sun rises.

Electrical and mechanical maintenance supervisors gather for the daily safety inspections. This is an essential part of the work day at the Beaumont Mill before employees step up to their nearly 3,000-degree furnace to turn scrap metal into high quality steel wire rods.

The process of steel making includes hundreds of people and thousands of steps. From trucks, rail cars and barges getting unloaded, to melting, refining and rolling, to products being shipped out again. All of these things happen here, and safety is the most important part of the process.

The Safety Manager at Optimus Steel, Matt Hammer, says the safety program has been developed over years of operations and technical advancements in the field.

Hammer said the daily safety walks ahead of production meetings, audits and inspections are integral to holding themselves to the perfect standards.

“We hold weekly safety meetings with every member of our leadership team to discuss success and opportunities,” Hammer said. “We have a strong and resourceful Joint Health and Safety Committee to ensure all voices are heard and to ensure hourly participation in the safety program.”

It’s a priority of Optimus’ to make sure every new addition to the company will be able contribute to these safety measures. Optimus Steel goes one step further by spending thousands of dollars on fresh fruit during the summer, installing state of the art cooling stations, offering cooling vests as well as other industry standard heat reduction tools.

While company-wide safety processes are important, it is also critical that every individual is given the opportunity to take the best care of themselves possible.

Here are a few safety rules to live by:

Six safety and health principles for the industry:

  1. All injuries and work-related illness can and must be prevented.
  2. Management is responsible and accountable for safety and health performance.
  3. Employee engagement and training is essential.
  4. Working safely is a condition of employment.
  5. Excellence in safety and health supports excellent business results.
  6. Safety and health must be integrated in all business-management processes.

From the World Steel Association

It is vitally important to account for the summer heat. Here are other tips to avoid heat related illnesses:

  1. Do not drink energy drinks.
  2. Avoid other drinks with a lot of sugar and caffeine.
  3. Eat light lunches and snacks.
  4. Pace yourself and take breaks if needed.
  5. Listen to your body.
  6. Alternate water and electrolyte replacement drinks.

From the Center for Disease Control

Optimus Steel: The Beginning of Us

“We strive for perfection in everything we do. Our goal is to outperform the steel industry in safety, quality, value and innovation.”

This is the philosophy that has captivated the 42-year-old Beaumont Mill by virtue of its new owner Optimus Steel LLC. Optimus Steel is a newly formed venture. The company acquired the mill on April 1, 2018.

“We bought the mill with the intent to better serve the many longtime customers of the mill and to grow in the steel making business. We believe we are doing that with the depth and breadth of high quality products we provide, and our superior logistic solutions because we can ship by barge, rail and truck,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ed Goettl.

The plant located in Beaumont, Texas, has a capacity of approximately 700,000 tons. A figure Optimus Steel is already making complete use of. They are well into the production of wire rods, billets and coiled rebar serving a multitude of industries including construction, automotive, energy and more.

“We have already started to invest significantly in the business to increase output and to improve quality,” he said. “We’re coming in with a new angle and none of these things can be done without the employees.”

Optimus Steel employs industrial electricians, switchmen, crane operators and millwrights to all types of maintenance supervisors.

“Without their knowledge, without their expertise, without their commitment and dedication — what we have been able to achieve in such a short period of time just wouldn’t have been possible,” Goettl said.

For example, Goettl remembers when Optimus first decided they needed a brand-new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. From start to finish, the system was implemented in 45 days.

“Our employees are going 100 miles an hour all day long,” he said.

The employees embody honesty, responsibility, excellence, passion and teamwork. Values that are translated into the end-product. Goettl said everything comes back to the quality of what they are putting out — it will always set them apart.

Optimus Steel wants to be known for four things:

  • Safety
  • Stakeholder value
  • Quality
  • Innovation

Matthew Hammer, Optimus Steel Safety Manager, says one example is their innovative safety program which has been developed over years of operations and technical advancements in the field.

“We use up-to-date technology to enhance the safety of our employees — like using drones for inspections of areas that are not readily accessible,” Hammer said. “Working together at all levels of employment, we strive to advance our safety program.”

Hammer said they also take daily safety walks ahead of any production meetings, perform internal and external audits as well as inspections to make sure they do what they are say they are doing with their products.

“We benchmark with trade organizations like the Steel Manufacturers Association. This bench-marking not only keeps us up-to-date with industry standards but allows us to compete with the best-of-the-best safety programs in North America and across the globe,” Hammer said.

Goettl said they implement their goals and values in dealing with their customers.

“We say we’re striving for perfection in everything we do,” he said. “The ultimate judge of that is going to be our employees, customers and vendors. We’re trying to be on time with our schedule, we’re trying to have outstanding safety performance and give a return to our stakeholders.”

If Optimus Steel can always hold themselves to these standards, Goettl believes they will be able to achieve their goal of continuing to grow in the industry either by building new mills or additional acquisitions nationally and possibly internationally.

“If we do these things properly then our brand will become more and more of a force in the steel industry,” Goettl said.

South East Texas Food Bank

Team Members: Clifford and Rosie Wineland, Joseph, Misty, Jolie and Jaxson Wineland, Marcos Dal Ponte, Jim and Pamela Kerkvliet, Joey Pineda, Terri Finn, Theresa Allen, Cheryl Zabish, Leonardo Radicchi, Joao Dantas, Chris Henson, Shaniqua Johnson, Hubert and Nancy Morris and Andy Davis.

On a Saturday morning, at 8:30 am, when most are thinking of having a nice hot cup of coffee, the Optimus team assembles at the South East Texas Food Bank ready for action. The activity for the day includes filling 1,000 boxes for seniors to be distributed throughout our community.

The team has representatives from every level of our operation. We are especially proud that charity truly does begin at home and there are wives and children gladly making their contributions to the effort with us. Our youngest team members are 8 and 11 years old!

The activity commences with food items packed into boxes, organized management of any waste generated and mechanical movement and staging of the boxes ready for distribution. The activity is well organized, the team works hard and has fun, finishes early and without any safety incidents!

This relationship established with the Food Bank will continue. It is one of our many commitments to give back to our community.

Thanks team! Without a doubt, Optimus Steel has the best, hard-working caring individuals anywhere!

Optimus Employees Give Back!

On June 30, 2018 a team of 15 employees took part in an effort to help Habitat for Humanity organize their warehouse.  Optimus is committed to continuing to give back to the communities that we live and work in.  I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to the following employees for their commitment to this goal.  Chris Henson, Leo Radicchi, Terri Finn, Cherly Zabish, Shaniqua Johnson, Jim Kerkvliet, Pamela Kerkvliet, Roberto Perez, Theresa Allen, Keith Bryan, Jarell Crutcher, Adrienne Crutcher, Gary Kirkland, and Frances Kirkland.