US Steel originated with the combination of three huge United States steel companies -Elbert Gary’s Federated Steel, W.H. Moore’s National Steel, and most importantly, Andrew Carnegie’s Carnegie Steel – in 1901. The formation of US Steel was the project of partners Elbert Gary and J. P. Morgan. US Steel was the world’s first billion dollar company, and at the time both the largest steel producer and the largest corporation in the world. In its first full year of operation, it produced 2/3 of the entire US national steel output.
US Steel was a dominant force in the US economy through most of the 20th Century, both directly and indirectly. Andrew Carnegie’s $492 million buyout, which would be equal to almost $300 billion today, sparked a wave of philanthropy including the building of 2,800 libraries, 1,946 in the US alone. During the Second World War US Steel was central to the war production advantage the US enjoyed. Throughout the war, the company employed 340,000 workers, about seven times the workforce the company normally employed during peacetime. Many of these worked at steel production facilities like the one next to the Ford River Rouge plant that supplied steel to plants throughout Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
In its early history, the company went through a series of labor problems, a legacy of Andrew Carnegie’s opposition to unions. The company attempted to prevent unionization through the use of company-sponsored unions but eventually acquiesced and recognized the United Steelworkers of America. After the United Steelworker organized its workforce, the company went through two strikes, in 1946 and 1959, as well a lockout in 1986 triggered by employee resistance to the downsizing of plants throughout the American steel industry. Labor relations since the late 1980s have been focused more on ‘anti-dumping’, in which both labor and management share an objection to the influx of foreign steel into the US and thus the relations between US Steel and it workforce has been less contentious.
The history of US Steel has been marked primarily by acquisitions. Starting with the Bessemer Steamship Company shortly after the company’s formation in 1901 to the 2007 acquisitions of Canada’s Stelco and Texas-based Lone Star Steel, the company that began with the combination of three successful steel giants has continued to acquire other companies. Indeed, the company is presently rumored to be considering acquiring the North American assets of German steel giant Thyssen Krupp.
Beginning in 1982, the company detoured into oil and gas, acquiring Marathon Oil, to be followed two years later by Husky Oil and two years after that by Texas Oil and Gas Company. With the acquisition of the latter, US Steel changed its name to USX (the company’s NYSE ticker symbol is “X”) and it operated for 15 years as USX before spinning off the oil business as Marathon Oil and reverting its identity back to US Steel in 2001.
Pittsburgh-based US Steel produces about 30 million tons of steel annually, in both flat rolled and tubular forms, and supplies customers in the automotive, appliance, construction, and energy industries. In addition to the flat-rolled and tubular divisions, US Steel also operates a European division whose operations are centered primarily in eastern Europe. In support of all three divisions, US Steel also mines iron ore, and owns related transportation , especially railroad and barge operations, as well as real estate holdings associated with iron ore extraction. US Steel’s 2012 revenues were $19.3 billion, with 39,000 employees globally.
Aaron Witherspoon writes on construction, manufacturing, the steel industry, the lumber industry, skilled trades and other kindred topics; those fascinated by this piece who’d like to pursue more information may want to view the company profile of one of the top Lumber Yards Houston.