"The Red Baron" Spies on Scrapyards

Steel these days comes mostly from scrap metal. And many people are aware that scrap metal and waste paper are the two things we export the most to China. But one problem that was reported in Tuesday’s Wall St. Journal was that there is not a consistent and open system for setting scrap prices. So steel manufacturers are sneaking up on their suppliers to try to find out if the prices are fair.

“Steel and scrap company executives have used helicopters and satellite photography to keep tabs on rival’s scrap and steelyard inventories. “You can’t help yourself, when flying by a city, to go check on the scrap supply,” said Keith Busse, Chief Executive of Steel Dynamics, in Wayne IN. He is known as “The Red Baron,” by his colleagues because of these frequent forays in a friend’s helicopter. Fourteen major steel companies have announced a new alliance that will make prices more transparent.