The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Nucor Steel: A Great Delta Success Story; August, 2014

Posted on August 07, 2014 at 04:28 PM

The Nucor Yamato Steel, Nucor Steel Arkansas and Nucor Castrip plants in Mississippi County are a major success story on many fronts. In addition to being the most efficient steel mills in the United States, Nucor has demonstrated a broad commitment to promote the community and economic progress of northeast Arkansas and the Greater Delta Region as a whole through policies that promote safety and health, and support the education of its more than 1,600 Arkansas employees and their families.

We all know about the serious economic challenges we face in the Greater Delta Region, but we also need to recognize some of the innovative, constructive organizations that are doing great work in the region today and helping the region progress toward a brighter future. Nucor is definitely one of those constructive organizations.

This is one in a series of profiles of organizations in the Greater Delta who are engaging in best practices and serve as role models for the future progress of our region.


  1. Randy Henderson’s presentation on the Nucor success story at Clinton Library Delta conference, June, 2014

  2. Nucor accomplishments in environmental protection and climate change

  3. Nucor’s exemplary safety record

  4. Three notable examples of Nucor’s community outreach

a. Nucor aquaculture project for northeast Arkansas high school students

b. Nucor’s help for troops and veterans in Arkansas

c. Nucor’s aid for victims of the tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

1. Randy Henderson’s presentation on the Nucor success story at the Clinton Library Delta conference:

The Delta Grassroots Caucus deeply appreciates the support Nucor gives our grassroots coalition, and we would like to summarize the insightful remarks made at our June 12-13 Clinton Library conference by Randy Henderson, Inventory/Safety Coordinator for Nucor’s thin-strip casting plant in Blytheville in northeast Arkansas.

Nucor is the leading steel producer and recycler in the United States. Nucor’s three steel facilities in Arkansas employ over 1,600 people at an average salary in the range of $70,000 to $80,000.

Nucor’s generous support for education of their employees: At the Clinton Library conference, Mr. Henderson emphasized that at Nucor they believe that their people are the company’s greatest resource and the “core of success is through education.” Nucor offers each employee $3,200 a year for ongoing education, $3,200 for their spouse and each dependent is offered $3,200 a year for four years to help defray college tuition. The Delta Grassroots Caucus partners see this as a remarkably enlightened and generous policy and we agree that education is the key to progress in our region.

Nucor’s broader service to the community: Henderson said that the Nucor team provides resources to the community by serving on boards for constructive causes, helping the local area to grow through job creation and supporting education.

For example, five years ago Henderson and several other leaders in Blytheville went to Helena-West Helena to learn about the KIPP school that has enjoyed success there. They went with the mindset that they were going to work toward bringing a similar KIPP school to Blytheville–and in fact that is now a reality. Today, there is a successful KIPP program in Blytheville that is helping enhance educational opportunity for students in the community. Via a seat on the KIPP Delta Board of Directors, Nucor helps to steer this highly successful education program.

Practice of never laying off any employees: Nucor’s enlightened practice towards their employees is demonstrated by the fact that in their entire history, they have never laid off one employee at one of their steel mills as the result of a slowdown or lack of work. Even in the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression in 2008-2009, Nucor made sure that all of their employees kept working. For Nucor, as well as for much of the economy as a whole, the financial situation has significantly improved today. The Nucor workforce benefits greatly from maintaining their jobs and medical benefits regardless of which way the economic winds are blowing.

Expansion of plants in Blytheville, Arkansas as well as at Louisiana plant: Nucor is a national company and generates economic development at numerous locations across the country. In 2011, Nucor invested 750 million to build a new direct reduced iron plant in Louisiana. The new facility, which produces a raw material used in steelmaking, created more than 600 construction jobs and 150 high-quality, high-paying permanent jobs.

Recently Nucor made a 115 million investment in their northeast Arkansas facility, creating approximately 200 construction jobs, plus 40 to 50 permanent jobs once construction is completed.

Job recruitment across the region: Nucor recruits employees broadly across the region. Mr. Henderson said at the Clinton Library conference that he works on recruiting interns in Delta communities such as Pine Bluff, and that just the week before the conference two interns had started to work on the beam mill side in Blytheville and four interns from Pine Bluff started on the sheet mill side. Many other Delta communities have people who have found employment with Nucor.

Great River Promise: Henderson stressed Nucor’s commitment to the Great River Promise, a program started by Arkansas Northeastern College that guarantees that every high school student will have the opportunity to go to college.

In partnership with Arkansas Northeastern College and other Mississippi County community leaders, Nucor is a key supporter of the Great River Promise. Students who attend four years at a Mississippi County public high school, graduate and gain acceptance at Arkansas Northeastern College, achieve 95% attendance and punctuality record, and have no drug or DWI offenses will gain a scholarship at the college. They are required to enroll for at least 12 credit hours per semester and the scholarship is for four semesters and three calendar years after their high school graduation. The program has been recognized as a major success and role model for other communities in the region.

Among the goals of the Great River Promise are increasing the number of high school graduates, the number of college graduates, creating a competitive workforce, keeping children in Mississippi County, and filling high-skilled, well-paying jobs.

Safety as the top priority: Although Nucor is obviously a great success story in efficiency and productivity, Henderson emphasized that the company’s number one priority is not producing steel, but rather assuring the safety and health of their employees. For example, each year Nucor holds a health fair in which the employees can bring their spouses for a total health check-up and evaluation.

Nucor partners with Lifesigns in Memphis, Tennessee, where they can go to get a thorough health evaluation. Lifesigns is a Memphis health care company that provides clinical examination services for corporate clients. Blytheville is located in northeast Arkansas and Memphis is a short drive away.

The Lifesigns clinic offers Nucor employees and other patients a prevention-centered medical home and a prevention partner for employer-based wellness. Lifesigns provides physician-directed testing and consultation to identify developing health risks. Follow-up care focuses on management of weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, pre-diabetes and other health issues. The Nucor partnership with Lifesigns is another indication of their forward thinking approach to promoting the long-term well-being of their people.

At the Blytheville plant, Nucor has doctors on site at all times, plus two paramedics and a host of emergency medical technicians and first responders to address any health issues.

Multiplier impact of job creation in the local area: In addition to a workforce of more than 1,600 people, Nucor’s presence results in a multiplier effect in the local area caused by several other companies who provide supplies or services to Nucor. Examples include Tenaris, a metal tubing fabricator; IPSCO, which runs high-speed pipe mills and other activities; JMS, company, which provides steel and processing services; Nucor affiliate Skyline Steel and other companies.

We know that as a major national corporation, Nucor has greater resources than many other companies, but on a smaller scale it would be very beneficial to the region if other companies could follow policies emphasizing workforce development, education, health, and a commitment to the broader community as Nucor has done. We are proud to have Nucor as one of our leading regional partners in working for community and economic progress in the Greater Delta Region.

We would like to provide further background information here about Nucor’s innovative and enlightened policies in productivity, research, environmental protection, safety and community outreach.

Background of Nucor plants in Arkansas:

In 1992, Nucor Steel Arkansas began operating in Hickman, producing sheet steel products. Nucor Steel Arkansas has the capacity to produce 2.8 million tons of flat-rolled steel annually. In 1987, Nucor-Yamato Steel Company was formed as a partnership between Nucor Corporation and Yamato Kogyo Company Ltd. with the goal of operating a steel mini-mill to manufacture wide-flange beams in Armorel, Arkansas.

Today, Nucor-Yamato Steel Company is the largest structural steel mill in the Western Hemisphere and has the capacity to produce millions of tons per year of not only wide-flange beams, but also sheet piling, standard I-beams, channels and various other structural shapes. Nucor’s Castrip mill began operations in 2009, producing flat-rolled, carbon steel sheets at very thin gauges.

Nucor’s success in Arkansas and around the country is tied to their employees’ success. The production bonus system utilized by Nucor creates an environment where the employees are some of the most talented, creative and well compensated in the industry. Their ability and commitment make Nucor a global leader in the steel business and a model corporate citizen.

Examples of notable corporate accomplishments of Nucor:


As a member of an energy-intensive industry sector, Nucor is acutely aware of their responsibilities regarding environmental protection. The company strives to continually improve its efficiency and reduce emissions and its overall environmental footprint.

Nucor’s innovative accomplishments in recycling and reducing carbon emissions: Nucor invests in new technologies that can improve efficiency and further reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the steelmaking and recycling process. For example, with Nucor’s Castrip process, energy use and associated emissions are reduced by approximately 60 percent from conventional sheet steel production methods.

One of the keys to Nucor’s innovative environmental accomplishments is its leadership role as one of the most efficient steel recyclers in the country. Rather than making steel the conventional way from iron ore, Nucor’s recycling process incorporates electric arc furnace technology, which produces 67% less carbon equivalent emissions.

Although the Kyoto Protocol calls for a 7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2012, the steel industry in this country has reduced its energy intensity by 28% since 1990 and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 35% per ton of steel shipped over the same time period. The steel industry is also the only significant industry in the U.S. that reduced its total energy consumption while increasing its production from 1990 to 2012.


Sharing information is one way that Nucor puts a priority on safety and creating a culture in which safety is top of mind for each employee.

High-tech communications and face-to-face sessions help Nucor safety coordinators instantly share what they learn with their peers. An intranet dedicated solely to safety, with discussion boards, legal updates, articles, research and safety-related blogs keeps communication flowing among all of Nucor’s divisions. Twice-a-year meetings ensure that direct communication and learning about safety continues as well.

These meetings cover a broad range of subjects and are held at a variety of locations. For example, recent meetings featured guest speakers talking about the treatment of hand injuries, the importance of stretching, pandemic outbreaks and behavioral-based safety programs.

At all of the meetings there are group break-out sessions where safety coordinators from their respective Nucor manufacturing groups meet to review safety issues and safety success stories.

Additionally, there are many success stories reported at these meetings that lead to the implementation of best practices such as:

–Starting every shift every day with a safety huddle.

–Prohibiting new employees from working on a line until they have been thoroughly trained and are familiar with working conditions and safety procedures.

–Giving workers an extra pair of safety glasses to take for use at home.

–Requiring those involved in an accident to give a detailed oral report on what went wrong to members of his shift and safety committee.

–Each of these semi-annual meetings lasts for two days, but the lessons learned by the safety coordinators and the best practices they bring back to their facilities last for a lifetime.

4. Three examples of Nucor’s Community Outreach:

Educational help for an aquaculture project in Osceola

Arkansas Aid for troops and veterans in Arkansas

Aid for the victims of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornado

Nucor Aquaculture Project for Osceola, Arkansas high school students:

Nucor provided students at Osceola Senior High School with an aquaculture project which gave students the opportunity to raise Tilapia in the classroom. In a letter from Ann Cooper of the Osceola High School to Nucor management, she thanked the company for supporting education in Mississippi County, Arkansas and said the project “has been an excellent alternative learning tool for my students.”

Aquaculture is an important and growing new sector of the economy in the Delta. The Osceola students learned to test the water for nitrates, oxygen content, phosphates and other chemicals, feed the fish and clean the tanks every day. They learned that they could predict the feeding habits of the fish by checking the barometer and weather, and they analyzed the data daily.

Mrs. Cooper went on to write Cooper that “This project has been terrific hands-on learning for the students that they could not get in a regular classroom or out of a textbook.” The CEO of the DENSO plant in Osceola visited the school with two Japanese businessmen to view the project and was very impressed.

Mrs. Cooper presented the Nucor Steel Fish Education Project at a major national high school convention in Atlanta and she emphasized that “Nucor is the main support that helped our students to get back on track with their education.” She wrote that the Nucor team members showed the students “what the real world is all about: working together as a team, solving problems that quickly arise and coming up with a workable solution. Our students would have never learned this in a regular classroom doing regular class work. My classes cannot wait until next fall when we get some more fish…”

Nucor’s aquaculture project in Osceola, Arkansas is another example of their broad-minded commitment to helping the broader community.

Nucor Arkansas Division Honors Armed Forces

Fundraiser and recognition for our troops: Nucor Arkansas team members engaged in a number of projects last Veterans Day to recognize and help soldiers. Numerous team members throughout the Nucor family have served in active duty. A team of Nucor Arkansas teammates held a fundraiser for the United Way of Greater Blytheville. Among those being recognized were a Blackhawk helicopter pilot stationed in Iraq who is a friend of Nucor employees in Blytheville.

The fundraiser lasted six hours. The Nucor team had a sign board next to its fundraising booth where spectators and participants could write a message of encouragement or just sign their name as a way of showing support for our brave men and women protecting our freedom. When the six-hour fundraiser was complete, there were thousands of names, and the continuous paper roll spanned over 210 feet. The laminated paper roll was sent to the Blackhawk team in Iraq.

Promoting hiring of veterans: Angie Wilson, Josh Schofield, Eric Young and Bill Glaser from Nucor Steel Arkansas participated in the Hiring Heroes Career Fair in Little Rock. The Department of Defense partnered with various veterans’ organizations and businesses to honor the Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve members of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Arkansas has the fourth largest population of OEF/OIF National Guard and Reserved members in the United States, many of whom are still in need of employment. During the career fair the group met several individuals that were interested in Nucor. This is the kind of constructive activities that are needed to take specific steps in promoting the hiring of our troops and veterans and express our deep appreciation for their service to our nation.

Nucor Divisions Help Victims of Tornado in Tuscaloosa:

Nucor Steel’s Tuscaloosa plant was without power for almost a week after the April 27, 2011 tornado, but throughout that time their workers were hard at work in relief and rebuilding activities. Nucor kept the workers on the payroll and encouraged them to get out and help the community and their neighbors in any way possible. Employees cut and moved fallen trees, delivered emergency supplies and used the company’s forklifts and other heavy equipment to unload emergency supplies at relief centers.

Nucor divisions in Alabama and Mississippi were damaged in a series of tornadoes and thunderstorms that devastated the southeast U.S. on April 27, 2011. 300 people lost their lives in the disaster.

Nucor employees distributed more than 300 portable, company-purchased generators to those in need, including at least two churches that served as emergency relief centers.

National steel manufacturers’ association honors Nucor for disaster relief work: The Steel Manufacturers Association has named Nucor the recipient of the 2012 SMA Achievement in Community Involvement Award. The award will be presented to Charlotte-based Nucor executives at the trade organization’s annual member’s conference in Washington, D.C.

“Nucor responded immediately to the devastation that followed the tornado in April 2011,” the association said in a statement. “Facilities in Decatur and Tuscaloosa organized and assisted in rebuilding their communities, clearing debris and donating manpower and equipment for relief. Nucor also mobilized its other locations to participate in the recovery efforts and donations.”

Randy Skagen, vice president and general manager of Nucor’s Tuscaloosa operation, said the local effort to help the community started right after the storm hit. Employees started helping that night. The company purchased generators and gave them to employees and others in need. Most of the generators were returned after power was restored, and Nucor donated and shipped them to Joplin, Mo., which was hit by a severe tornado in late May.

Records kept by Nucor’s Tuscaloosa plant showed that it spent almost $250,000 for generators and rental equipment used for community recovery efforts. The plant’s workers logged more than 9,600 volunteer hours to help the community.

“We were without power (at the plant) for six-and-a-half days after the tornado, so we sent employees out to help wherever they were needed,” Skagen said.

“We are part of the community, and we do whatever we can in good times or bad to help.”

Nucor is one of the country’s largest steel makers, with plants in 23 states and more than 20,000 employees. In addition to its plants in Tuscaloosa and Decatur, Nucor’s Alabama operations include plants in Birmingham, Eufaula and Fort Payne.

This Delta Grassroots Caucus newsletter is in the spirit of “let’s find the good and praise it.” We greatly appreciate Nucor’s generous sponsorship contributions and their excellent participation on Delta Grassroots Caucus activities. We devote substantial amounts of time to highlighting the economic problems of the Delta, but we should also give credit where it is due and Nucor’s Blytheville plants are a true success story.

Delta Grassroots Caucus board of directors and senior advisory committee–see the website at