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Group Sourcing Metal Ideas

Today was the day for Elise. Thanks for all the help everyone. And here are the photos!
Four Johns and Elise!
Oh I’m so glad we have pics from that great day! It was a pleasure to meet each of “the Johns” and I’m really looking forward to future meetups with you all. It was so very kind of you to arrange that for me. The table looks right at home in the shop, and it’s just perfect!
Thanks for spoiling me with not only the table and tools, but even in that short time with stories and information that can only come by experience and years spent soaking up all that knowledge pure gold to a newbie like myself and I can’t wait for the next visit!
 
You would think a company like the metal supermarket would want a group like this that's all across Canada and offer some sort of discount. As hobbiest are we not some what there target
 
You would think a company like the metal supermarket would want a group like this that's all across Canada and offer some sort of discount. As hobbyist are we not some what there target
Maybe - we are sort of the target - but I am not exactly whom the target is to be honest for Metal Supermarkets - I would think the main target for them is "uninformed public" - same target as people that get pieces of steel from Homedepo / Canadian Tire and to lesser extent from Princess Auto.

Most of us here stay away from MS as far as possible. I didn't buy anything from them in ... hmm, almost 10 years? My total metal purchase in the same time period easily exceed 10,000 lbs.

MS prices even after say 20% group discount are not "on track" to be used by most people on this forum - they would need to give us at least 65% discount or more on HR steel. https://www.federalmetals.ca/we-sell/angle
2x2 x1/4 angle is 2.48 a foot for 10ft min. That is 24.80 CAD... https://ecommerce.metalsupermarkets.com/ same item is $71.06 CAD Their price for just 1ft of the same is 21.41 - which is tad cheaper then 10ft at local retail location (!!!).

On the other hand for speciality stuff they are "not that bad" - the more expensive the exotic stuff the better the price & the more you buy. For say $1000+ purchase the price of cold rolled 1018 drops to around 2 CAD per lbs - which is only touch more then twice the HR at Federal Metals.... but if you are going that big you can get quotes from big metal suppliers. If you need a brick of copper you can simply purchase it online in the US and get it shipped to the border and forwarded to you for less... much less.

Anyone know whom buys from MS and why? They are growing in operations so someone has to buy from them... quick internet search shows that my gut was correct - they pray on uninformed public - https://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/forum/woodworking/woodworking-aa/54166-where-not-to-buy-metal

Also of note is the fact that as a franchise MS is subject to local pricing - thus it is cheaper in ON then AB as there is much more competition in ON then AB.
 

Johnwa

Active Member
When I was working at one of the Atco power plants we had an account with them. I don’t recall what we bought from them though.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

Bofobo

Well-Known Member
I buy at MS often as they have what i need now, mind you i stick to cut-offs mostly and found having any length cut was where they really gouge you, buy 3’ cut-off and its $X but buy the (imaginary)required 2.5’ cut from that same piece is now $XX.X
Vs. minimums and what sells most to commercial users dictating available stock. But my experience is just hobby and small business requirements. I picked up a hand full of aluminum and brass for $12 about 18” long was great from my experience
 

trlvn

Active Member
I've chatted with the guys at the local Metal Supermarket a couple of times. They didn't say exactly, but I think they have relatively high "retail" prices. Ie if you drop by and purchase one or two pieces, they'll charge you the price on the computer. BUT, it was clear that they have regular weekly business with lots of places. I've got to believe that is at competitive prices. Whether it is a blanket percentage discount or negotiated pricing on certain products, I have no idea.

For my biggest purchase with them, I could still carry out with one hand. Easily. When I asked for a little piece of a specific size of 12L14, they got it in from another store by the end of the day. The guys have been very good to deal with even though I'm only buying $20 or $40 worth of metal. If I go to a big steel supply house, I don't think I'd get the time of day. So the cost per pound isn't the main consideration for me. I would have completely different expectations if I was buying higher quantities.

Their tag line is "The convenience store for metal". I think they're not far off that.

Craig
 
Certainly the big guys would not pay 300% markup or more - they have account with them that is far more competitively priced.

The problem is that many people are in a spot where they buy far too little to have purchasing power to force MS or anyone else to deal with them while at the same time far too big of a need to buy at retail SM prices.

The experience of group buy of metal at Federal shows that we are simply too small at this time.
 

Dabbler

Well-Known Member
trivn, it thought it was that way as well. I got 'woken up' when I tried to buy the 4.5', 65 lb bar of 4140 that was sitting there... no cutting needed and they wanted 638$ for it (I just can't forget them saying that). I turned around and bough a similar piece from Encor metals - 44 lbs for 100$. 4140 should cost between $2.25 and $3 a pound.

They talked me into buying from them, whining about the convenience and their costs, and found out they were 4-10 times what I would pay elsewhere. They had a competitor here for 5 years, and their prices became quite reasonable, but now they are stratospheric.

I've even stopped buying their aluminum cutoffs when I had this experience: I phoned ahead for some tubing and found it was in stock. Arrived to find they hadn't stocked it 'in a long time' and I should have 'called ahead'. On the way out, disappointed, but, hey, mistakes happen, I found a piece of aluminum angle in their cutoffs bin. -- 1 pound. I left it on the counter when they quoted me 40$ for it.

They know they have a captive market here. They take advantage of it in Calgary.
 

trlvn

Active Member
...found a piece of aluminum angle in their cutoffs bin. -- 1 pound. I left it on the counter when they quoted me 40$ for it.

They know they have a captive market here. They take advantage of it in Calgary.
Yikes! YIKES.

Yeah, you are getting a completely different experience at that store than I am here. There are quite a few metal sources in the greater Toronto area so nobody can get that far out of whack.

Your story about the aluminum is completely the opposite of mine. Recently, I grabbed an 18 inch piece of AL round bar (5/8'?) from the cutoffs. At the counter, he first though that was the only thing I wanted and said "just take it". Another time, I had a few little pieces and he says "Aw, just gimme $15 for our coffee fund". Sounds like I would have barely gotten change from a $100 bill at your location!

Craig
 
Yikes! YIKES.

Yeah, you are getting a completely different experience at that store than I am here. There are quite a few metal sources in the greater Toronto area so nobody can get that far out of whack.

Your story about the aluminum is completely the opposite of mine. Recently, I grabbed an 18 inch piece of AL round bar (5/8'?) from the cutoffs. At the counter, he first though that was the only thing I wanted and said "just take it". Another time, I had a few little pieces and he says "Aw, just gimme $15 for our coffee fund". Sounds like I would have barely gotten change from a $100 bill at your location!

Craig
This is why I said that when there is competition ----> like in Mississauga store... which was where I incidentally shopped last at MS... prices at MS are more in line with other local suppliers. In Calgary they don't have much competition... Also Mississauga location is probably the original franchise location - remember all MS are franchise stores able to set their own prices and their own policies (to a limit). The fee for MS is low and starting costs are low for a franchise - looking at 300k-400k to start new location. This is at least 3x cheaper than MacDonald's.
 

trlvn

Active Member
This probably explains why there are no prices on their online site. Calgary can charge whatever they want since it can't be compared to a national price on the web site.

It might be interesting for a few of us to ask for an online quote for the same items. Just ordering from different areas of the country.

Craig
 
I am presently working on a project that started out as a small home built "conversion" to a cartridge loading machine for myself but it has evolved into something that might have a small commercial viability as well ( it works better on my machine than I ever thought it would at the beginning). So last week I started phoning around for some metal quotes to do an "exploratory" batch to begin with. My first call was to Calgary M.S. for 3 ft each of a # of different sizes of CR & Alum. pieces, the quote came in at $198, next call was to a local Red Deer wholesaler, they only sell in 20 ft lengths and for the same material the quote came in at $262 ...over 6 times the quantity for $65 more money.

other time the 20 ft minimum length thing has sent me to M.S. when I only want to spend $50 or so on a very few small pieces...but a close to 500% mark-up is starching the envelope a loooonnnngg ways.
 
This probably explains why there are no prices on their online site. Calgary can charge whatever they want since it can't be compared to a national price on the web site.

It might be interesting for a few of us to ask for an online quote for the same items. Just ordering from different areas of the country.

Craig
You can get online quote by entering different postal code. Compare your quote to say T2A 4Z6. You should see roughly 2x price difference for many items.
 
I am presently working on a project that started out as a small home built "conversion" to a cartridge loading machine for myself but it has evolved into something that might have a small commercial viability as well ( it works better on my machine than I ever thought it would at the beginning). So last week I started phoning around for some metal quotes to do an "exploratory" batch to begin with. My first call was to Calgary M.S. for 3 ft each of a # of different sizes of CR & Alum. pieces, the quote came in at $198, next call was to a local Red Deer wholesaler, they only sell in 20 ft lengths and for the same material the quote came in at $262 ...over 6 times the quantity for $65 more money.

other time the 20 ft minimum length thing has sent me to M.S. when I only want to spend $50 or so on a very few small pieces...but a close to 500% mark-up is starching the envelope a loooonnnngg ways.

Usually when I need say 5ft of something I don't mind buying 10ft or even 20ft of it if it means paying say 200% less per ft. If I need it today experience says I will need it in the future. The most metal was laying on the ground was few years. Even if my investment was accruing 10% interest tax free I would be well ahead with larger purchase.
 

CalgaryPT

Super User
Vendor
Premium Member
Anyone know whom buys from MS and why?
My 2 cents worth....

I do have an account with them and buy for a couple of reasons, but not price.
  1. For me, the staff have been great. I've found them friendly, and the girl who works there has a sense of humour. Free coffee is nice too.
  2. The rust on their sheet stock is almost non-existent. I have never had a sheet of stock that needed lots of sanding. For me this is a game changer as I often buy six or seven full sheets of 22 to 16 gauge. As I powder coat parts afterwards, this saves me from sanding and—more importantly—from blasting costs in prep for powder coat. Even materials stored indoors in proximity to overhead doors will rust within a couple of weeks. Because MS purposely stores their sheet goods as far away from overhead doors as possible in the new shop, I see the difference. I asked them about this when they moved in to their new shop two years ago. If you remember their old shop the sheet goods were too close to the overhead doors and rust was a problem. My last powder coat job was $1700 for 500 parts. Blasting would have added $400 onto that, so it's worth it to me. Any time I see a shop with their sheet goods next to the overhead doors I know it will have rust. I learned this the hard way. I have seen sheet arrive at MS and it goes to the back right away.
  3. There is no min. length of cut.
  4. Good selection of off-cuts.
  5. Good selection of non-steel.
  6. Open on Saturdays.
  7. They have an 8 foot shear. My stomp shear is only 36", so I cannot handle a full sheet. Their 8 foot shear can cut my sheet down to 3' strips, 8' long, that my shear can handle. I used to cut my own by plasma, but it isn't worth the time to set up or to finish. Now I just call in my cut widths and pick it up in sizes my shear can handle. Totally worth it...every dime.
  8. They have ordered stuff for me others places were jerks about because it was too small an order.
For larger orders of angle and tubing, I shop with James instead.

MS is pricey but #2 and #7 are my main reasons I go there.
 
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My 2 cents worth....

I do have an account with them and buy for a couple of reasons, but not price.
  1. For me, the staff have been great. I've found them friendly, and the girl who works there has a sense of humour. Free coffee is nice too.
  2. The rust on their sheet stock is almost non-existent. I have never had a sheet of stock that needed lots of sanding. For me this is a game changer as I often buy six or seven full sheets of 22 to 16 gauge. As I powder coat parts afterwards, this saves me from sanding and—more importantly—from blasting costs in prep for powder coat. Even materials stored indoors in proximity to overhead doors will rust within a couple of weeks. Because MS purposely stores their sheet goods as far away from overhead doors as possible in the new shop, I see the difference. I asked them about this when they moved in to their new shop two years ago. If you remember their old shop the sheet goods were too close to the overhead doors and rust was a problem. My last powder coat job was $1700 for 500 parts. Blasting would have added $400 onto that, so it's worth it to me. Any time I see a shop with their sheet goods next to the overhead doors I know it will have rust. I learned this the hard way. I have seen sheet arrive at MS and it goes to the back right away.
  3. There is no min. length of cut.
  4. Good selection of off-cuts.
  5. Good selection on non-steel.
  6. Open on Saturdays.
  7. They have an 8 foot shear. My stomp shear is only 36", so I cannot handle a full sheet. Their 8 foot shear can cut my sheet down to 3' strips, 8' long, that my shear can handle. I used to cut my own by plasma, but it isn't worth the time to set up or to finish. Now I just call in my cut widths and pick it up in sizes my shear can handle. Totally worth it...every dime.
  8. They have ordered stuff for me others places were jerks about because it was too small an order.
For larger orders of angle and tubing, I shop with James instead.

MS is pricey but #2 and #7 are my main reasons I go there.
As usual I under estimated other people needs - I never buy sheet metal nor have need to cut it so #2 and #7 don't exist for me. Some rust on items is ok as for welding its nice to clear the mill scale anyways.

With 5 or 7 sheets per order plus some other steel wouldn't it make sense to try Russel instead or some large supplier that has minimum order - I know you can get stuck behind a semi for like 1h+ and they may not be super nice... but price difference on a $1000+ order could be significant.