Virtual business models often have been theorized but seldom demonstrated. If, however, one were charged with finding a successful, real-life example of a virtual business, the beleaguered domestic steel industry would hardly seem the place to look.
But that's where you will find Straightline Source, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Straightline has developed a remarkably robust virtual business model that after only one year of life has proved its value in the marketplace and is quickly gaining adherents.
Straightline essentially is a steel distributor with a difference - it owns no fixed assets, such as plants or equipment or distribution centers. Instead, it contracts out all physical services and manages the flow of information that coordinates those services. The purpose, and the result, is an extremely efficient and collaborative supply chain that benefits suppliers, processors and customers of carbon and flat-rolled steel products.
"We compete in the steel distribution business against traditional distributors that process steel products, but we go about that by creating opportunities in a different way," says Dan Pavlick, managing director of information and strategy at Straightline. "We don't own any fixed assets, but we coordinate the flow of material and information."
|"Straightline's mill to end-user service is going to change the marketplace."|
- Gary Corson of Taylor Coil Processing
|The tools make it easier for customers to manage the process of procuring steel.|
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