Mark Marcucci - Gerdau Special Steel North America - 2019 MFG Lifetime Achievement

Manufacturing is about people. As technology becomes a greater part of the process, the industry is still built around creative people inventing products, hardworking people building them and people from around the world buying them to better their lives.

Mark Marcucci understands people. They’ve been his focus for 43 years, through every twist and turn of the global steel industry and at the helm of Gerdau Special Steel North America.

“Gerdau really is concerned with people and that has always aligned with me,” Marcucci explained. “No matter who they are, people have a stake in what we do — they are all stakeholders — and manufacturers need to be conscious of that.”

Marcucci’s path to president of Gerdau was neither straight nor simple. His story is an example of how hard work pays off. Advancing through the industry, Marcucci began as a worker in the melt shop and each step along his journey provided a wider view of the steel industry.

“I’m a geek — I’m an engineer by trade and I’ve always loved to learn about the business; from the ground up and from both the technical and the operational sides,” Marcucci recalled. “But it wasn’t until I had seen the entire scope of the business that I really got it — understanding how the work being done on the floor translates to the success of decisions made at the leadership level. Nothing happens in the board room if you can’t align it to the shop floor.”

Marcucci’s mission has been to create value. Value for the customer, value for the employee and value for the community.

“The biggest challenge that we all face every day is how to really control costs and keep yourself competitive and sustainable,” said Marcucci. “At the same time, there’s the challenge of understanding the customer values. They are under the same pressures we are so our solutions can’t be self-serving, the solutions should allow us to grow together.”

Investment has been Marcucci’s driving solution to improve value for the company and across its supply chain. In recent years, Gerdau has committed to investing nearly $500 million toward improvements at its Monroe location and other Michigan-based efforts. It also provides charitable donations to non-profits in Jackson and Monroe counties — among them United Way, Salvation Army, American Cancer Society, Jackson Interfaith Shelter and AWARE Inc. Time is also an investment — Marcucci is an active voice for leading trade associations including MMA, Jackson Area Manufacturers Association, the Forging Industry Association and Steel Manufacturers Association.

“Gerdau has done a great job reinventing its culture, making itself purpose-driven and empowering its people both globally and especially in Michigan,” said Marcucci. “Get the right people in the right chairs doing things the right way.”

How does a business the size and scope of Gerdau — 30,000 people globally and 1,500 on Marcucci’s team — ensure that the right people are in the right spots?

“You have to plan for the future and understand the aspirations of the people you have in place,” advised Marcucci. “Get them to ask questions and be curious — your people should provoke leadership to think deeper. Finally, have an honest dialogue with them and make sure they have a passion for what they do.”

Throughout his journey — one that has taken him across the country and to Brazil and back — Marcucci continued to study people. While the places, language and culture might change, he sees that people are mostly the same. They want to feel respected and listened to. In that way, he has stayed humble in how he leads and, as he prepares to retire at the end of the year, his best memories are, again, all about the people.

“The things I’ll remember most aren’t found in a metric or a KPI. They are the moments when I get to stop and catch up with my team,” explained Marcucci. “Learning about them and their lives, what they are feeling, what drives them and motivates them. They’ve helped me as much or more than I’ve ever helped them. It’s those subtle things that I’ll take with me.”

Looking back at a career spanning almost a half-century, Marcucci looks at each day as an effort to add another piece to the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle. It’s not finished — it never will be — but now he can see the bigger picture and how everything connects and how everyone he’s met has played a role in Gerdau’s larger success.

“To be recognized with the MFG Lifetime Achievement Award — I really was blown away. There are some very deserving leaders in Michigan, so for me to be honored like this, it says so much about the team I have here,” Marcucci said. “I’ve valued every relationship and exchange I’ve had in my career and this award shouldn’t be about me. It’s about the ones I’ve been privileged to know along the way.”

The MFG Lifetime Achievement honors an individual who has excelled in the industry and inspires their peers, emerging leaders, lawmakers and educators to strive to make significant contributions to their company, industry and community. The award is presented at the annual MFG Excellence Awards in November.