The Road to Awareness
Galvanizers face numerous challenges every day including educating customers, educating employees, safety, maintenance, and collections; however, the greatest challenge our industry faces is the fact the majority of people do not know what galvanized steel is and what benefits it offers. These include the fact that galvanizing is environmentally friendly and sustainable, and the fact that zinc is essential for life. The root cause of this lack of knowledge, I theorize, is threefold. The American society generally is oblivious to the effects of corrosion until it impacts them directly. The general public has accepted the theory that it is cheaper to rebuild after failure, and student engineers are not being taught how to best deal with corrosion. The problem is galvanizing is ubiquitous but “invisible” to the general public. As Dale Williams says, “You can’t go five miles without seeing 5 different uses of hot-dip galvanizing.” But yet, the general public is unaware to the presence of galvanizing in their communities. How many times have you been asked what do you do for a living and when you respond, “I am in galvanizing” they give you a blank stare or say, “that’s nice” quickly moving on.
We are gaining ground though. As you know, the EU has galvanized approximately 40% more per capita than North America (Canada and U.S. for our purposes) for many years. Galvanizing has made great strides in moving out of the shadows in North America as is evidenced in the increase consumption of HDG per capita. For 2016, the EU HDG steel production was 22.2 pounds per capita and the North American market for the same time period was 24.8 pounds per capita. Although this is a great advancement, more can be done to grow our industry. As you look around your town, I am sure you notice all the structures that could be galvanized, but are not. I know my kids grew tired of me constantly pointing it out.
One solution to increase the consumption of galvanizing in North America is to engage in a 10 foot marketing campaign. The methodology is quite simple and very affordable. You tell any person who is within 10 feet of you what galvanizing is pointing out the numerous examples around them. Ask them to point out a structure that could or should be galvanized. By creating a greater awareness of galvanizing, we will drive the level of hot-dip galvanizing in North America to new heights. We must get the general public and owners to understand the merits of and demand the use of galvanized steel.