Minimills, Maxiprofits: Nucor and Chaparral

Making money in the steel business these days is about as easy as rolling an I beam uphill. Nonetheless, at least two firms are still forging profits: Nucor Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., and Chaparral Steel Co. in Midlothian, Texas. In the first nine months of 1982, Nucor earned $13.4 million on sales of $379 million. Chaparral cleared $11 million last year on sales of $160 million.

Nucor and Chaparral are leaders in a new class of companies that make steel in what are called minimills: small, low-cost plants that utilize state-of-the-art technology and, in most cases, nonunion labor. These factories contain none...

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