“There’s a whole other world awaiting discovery underground. I worked in the iron and coal mines to see what was there. It was not only exciting, it was dangerous,” says Richard Teets Jr. ’77. He wore a brass ring to identify his body if a mine accident damaged him beyond identification.
Teets heard the call of the steel manufacturing business and set out to learn the industry from the ground up. After the mines, he moved to working in a traditional integrated mill that included all functions of steel production. When he went to work for Nucor, he learned about mini-mills, which are typically non-union outfits able to specialize and outsource some of their processes to keep costs competitively low.
As co-founder, president, and chief operating officer of mill operations for Steel Dynamics Inc., a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Fortune 400 company, Teets is responsible for the operations at five mini-mills. Most of SDI’s output is flat-rolled and structural steel used in automobiles, railroad rails, structural beams and columns, and masts for fork trucks. “We grew from a company of three individuals to approximately 6,800.”
A mechanical engineering graduate with an MBA from Duquesne University, Teets has been an extern host for Lafayette engineering majors. He received the George Washington Kidd Class of 1836 Award in 2006 for achieving distinction in his career. “I’m proud I went to Lafayette. I got a great education.”
Teets teaches business classes at University of St. Francis and serves on the board of Manchester University. He also chairs the Steel Manufacturers Association and is on the board of Association for Iron and Steel Technology, which he served for one year as president.
—Matt Sinclair ’90