Rodney A. Apple, President and CEO
Mr. Apple is a 40 year veteran in the Iron and Steelmaking Industry. He began his career in 1968 in the Management Training Program of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. He was assigned to the Steelmaking Division of the Lackawanna Plant and held management positions of increasing responsibility. In 1977 Mr. Apple became Assistant Superintendent of the Steelmaking Division responsible for the operation of the 4.8 million ton capacity Basic Oxygen Furnace Shop which contained three 310 ton BOF Vessels. In 1983 he was transferred to Bethlehem, Pa assuming the position of Manager of the Foundry Division with P&L responsibility for Foundry Products.
Mr. Apple joined Ford Motor Company in 1988 as Operations Manager at the Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan responsible for Iron Making, Steelmaking, and Casting, including 2 Blast Furnaces, BOF Shop, Electric Arc Furnace Shop, 2 Ladle Metallurgy Facilities, 2 Continuous Casters and a Slabbing Mill with over 125 Supervisors and 1250 hourly employees under his command. When Ford sold the steel business to Rouge Steel Company Mr. Apple joined Rouge Steel in the same position. He was responsible for operations, maintenance, quality and cost performance of the 3.5 million tons per year facility reporting to the President and COO of the company. He was also on the Board of Directors of Eveleth Taconite Company from 1988 until 2003. Eveleth was an Iron Ore Mining and Pelletizing plant located on the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota with capacity of 6 million tons annually and sales of over $200 million. ccc
In 1999 Mr. Apple was asked to complete the construction of a Rotary Hearth DRI facility and successfully started up the DRI Plant in 2000. In 2002 due to high natural gas costs and declining orders the DRI Plant was shut down as Rouge Steel tried to avoid bankruptcy.
In 2003 Severstal, one of the largest steelmakers in Russia bought Rouge Steel as well as other assets in the United States and formed Severstal, North America. Mr. Apple became Manager of Raw Materials Purchasing for Severstal, N.A. until 2006. He purchased over $4 Billion of raw materials during that time such as Metallurgical Coke and Steel Scrap used in the steelmaking process. The purchases were made from all over the world including Canada, China, Japan, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Western Europe. He initiated a coke swap with United States Steel Corp that saved each company over $10 million by reducing Transportation Costs.
In 2006 Mr. Apple became Manager of Capital Projects responsible for all the Purchasing activities associated with Severstal’s Billion Dollar capital improvement program. He was responsible for purchasing the materials and equipment as well as negotiating Contractor Agreements for the new $350 million Blast Furnace, the $450 million Pickle Line Tandem Cold Mill and $250 million Hot Dip Galvanizing Line and other capital expenditures. He retired in 2009 to start up Saucon Resources LLC which focused on reclamation of abandoned or undervalued materials and sites used in the Steel Industry.
Mr. Apple graduated from Moravian College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Business Administration in 1968. He also completed the Management Development Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1985 and the Ford Motor Company Senior Management Training Program in 1989.
Gregory. L. Echols, Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Echols has 35 years of experience in the steel industry. He is a highly accomplished goal focused executive and corporate officer with extensive experience in manufacturing. Mr. Echols began his career at Ford Motor Company – Steel Division as a Management Trainee. He rapidly advanced through the training, completing the three year program in two years. He quickly progressed through multiple supervisory positions culminating in being promoted to Melter Supervisor at the Basic Oxygen Furnaces. His high level of performance provided for an opportunity to become a member of the Continuous Caster Project Team, where he was responsible for developing operating standards and procedures, developing and implementing training programs for operating personnel and management of third party contractors.
After the successful launch of the Continuous Caster he was promoted to Superintendent of the BOF and Caster where he implemented process control systems that improved first run capability by 18%, implemented predictive and preventive maintenance systems that improved equipment availability from 92% to 98%, reduced staffing levels by 13%, and fostered an Employee Involvement program that generated more than $7.0 million per year in savings.
In January of 2000 he was promoted to the position of General Manager of Primary Operations at Rouge Steel Company (formerly Ford Motor Company Steel Division). He was responsible for the Blast Furnaces, Basic Oxygen Furnaces, Continuous Casters, Waste Oxide Reclamation, Rail Road and Masonry services with a budget of $700 million annually, 122 salary employees and 698 hourly employees in the organization. Significant improvements were achieved in safety, quality, productivity and cost. Injuries resulting in lost work days were reduced by 62%. Operating costs were reduced by over $30 million annually.
In January 2004 OAO Severstal purchased the assets of Rouge Steel Company and appointed Greg to the position of Vice President of Operations. This assignment increased the scope of his responsibility to include hot and cold rolling operations, shipping, process control, production planning and central maintenance. He had ten divisional managers reporting to him, 230 salary employees and 1578 hourly employees in the organization. His operating budget increased to $1.6 billion annually and the capital expenditure budget for the facility was $1.0 billion. He became a member of the Management Board of Severstal North America, an Officer of the company and was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Double Eagle Steel Coating Company. He actively participated in Merger & Acquisition activities as Severstal increased their holdings in North America. In October 2008 he was promoted to President and General Manager of Severstal Warren, Inc. He retired from Severstal North America in December 2011 to form KriJon Enterprises, LLC, a management consulting group specializing in business strategy, production systems and mergers and acquisitions.
Mr. Echols has a Bachelor of Science in Administration degree from the University of Michigan.
Domenic C. Popko, Vice President, Research, Engineering and Quality Assurance
Mr. Popko began his career as a welder and metal fabricator. He served in the 1075th Maintenance Company of the Michigan Army National Guard from 1984-1992. He worked as a Research Associate/Chemistry Laboratory Manager, Institute of Materials Processing, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, from 1995-1998. He was promoted to Research Engineer at the Institute of Materials Processing from 1998-2002.
Mr. Popko subsequently founded Lesktech Limited to aid mining and industrial entities in evaluating rock, mineral and industrial waste for initial and end use characterization. Consulting and research work performed include:
- Iron ore mining products and waste streams
- Coal mining products, coal waste, fly-ash
- Copper smelter and mine products and waste streams, including stamp sand
- Aluminum smelter and mining products and waste streams
- Steel mill products and waste streams
- Emission control catalytic converters
- Waste nickel and cadmium battery cells
He also served as a Principal Investigator (Environmental Protection Agency SBIR Phase 1 and Phase 2 Grants) to study and utilize copper mining waste streams from historical mining operations. As a Consultant to Combustion Resources he managed a scientific group from public universities and the private sector in performing chemical and physical characterization of a synthetic fuel product from waste coal. Performed experiments and evaluated data for quality control and accuracy before presenting to Combustion Resources for a Public Letter Release Statement for qualification of tax credits under Section 29E of the Internal Revenue Service Code. As a Consultant to Wisconsin Electric Oak Creek Aggregate Facility Mr. Popko performed evaluations for marketable products utilizing coal by-product and paper mill sludge. He performed chemical characterization on the products to identify the synthetic fuel tax credit opportunities and became intimately involved in negotiations for the sale of the facility. While a consultant and research participant at Inmetco on a waste nickel and cadmium rechargeable battery recycling project he developed a process to liberate and isolate plastic casings from waste battery packs. He has performed chemical and physical characterization and concentrated viable economic products on a variety of rocks, minerals and industrial waste streams.
Mr. Popko graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1993. He received a Master of Science in Geological Engineering in 1998 and is pursuing a PhD in Mining Engineering also at Michigan Tech.
Daniel E. LeVeque, Executive Vice President
Mr. LeVeque has forty years of service to the construction industry. He has been driven by a vision for continuous improvement within his company and the construction industry. His experience is in all aspects of commercial and industrial construction with particular expertise in the management of large commercial projects within the Midwest. He held leadership positions in national and state construction industry associations. He was also instrumental in developing training initiatives in collaboration with Native American tribes, high school educators and trade unions to further participation within the industry. As an officer of a start-up corporation focusing on industrial production, he was responsible for public affairs, government relations, business and investor relations, and product development.
Prior to joining the Saucon Minerals team, Dan was President Emeritus of Gundlach Champion, Inc., where he established a growth oriented culture through new marketing techniques and a focus on risk identification and management. He developed partnerships with design firms that allowed for expansion of the business into Wisconsin and Minnesota resulting in substantial increases in profitability. The partnerships resulted in $150 million dollars in revenue and client proposals.
Significant project accomplishments: City of Richfield, Minnesota Public Works a first of its kind contracting method within the State of Minnesota, St Mary-St Joseph Church Iron Mountain, Michigan, received the National Build America Award and Build Michigan Award, Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts Michigan Technological University a premiere events center in northern Michigan, Cliffs Natural Resources repairs to the Tilden Mine precipitator, Peter White Public Library Marquette, Michigan, received the National Marvin M. Black Award, Gundlach Champion Building Iron Mountain, Michigan, received the Wisconsin Ready Mixed Association Concrete Design Award, Trinity School Eagan, Minnesota a 20 million dollar project, Fire Station City of Stoughton, Wisconsin, employed a unique delivery method based on a modified design-build approach seldom if ever used in the State of Wisconsin.
Mr. LeVeque is a lifetime member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was past president of the Associated General Contractors of Michigan. He is a member of both the Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin and Associated General Contractors of Minnesota. Dan has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree from Michigan Technological University.
Richard Johnson, Manager, Logistics, Marketing and Security
Mr. Johnson has experience in leadership having worked for the Department of Correction for the State of Michigan from 1996 to 2006 as Resident Unit Officer in a Maximum Security Correctional Facility. Upon leaving the State of Michigan’s employment Mr. Johnson started the company Northern Eagle Holdings (N.E.H. Inc) which is involved in Sales and Logistics of dry bulk commodities such as:
- Anthracite & Steam Coal
- Direct Reduced Iron
- Steel Mill Slags
- Steel Mill by-products – mill scale, B-scrap
- Scrap Iron & Steel
- Materials from reclamation projects in Upper Michigan
Mr. Johnson was also an Independent Logistics Representative for Oveldi Worldwide Shipping Group which connected commodity buyers with container and sea freight carriers. Northern Eagle Holdings Incorporated is also an established online marketing firm with a small network of websites and lead capture pages which works in General Ecommerce and Payday Loan Industry as well as other competitive niches.
Mr. Johnson has accumulated credits from Michigan Technological University in Civil Tech Engineering, Northern Michigan University in Science & Arts and a Corrections Certificate from Gogebic Community College.
Matthew Eliason, is Saucon’s General Counsel and V.P. of legal and government affairs. Mr. Eliason maintains an active law practice in Hancock Michigan as well as a limited practice in Milwaukee. Mr. Eliason is perhaps the first attorney in Michigan to gain expertize in legal title issues related waste mineral product. Mr. Eliason has represented resource companies, petroleum companies, manufactures, and airlines, energy companies, and private equity in multi-million dollar transactions. His practice has also involved complex litigation involving tens of millions of dollars. He is licensed in Michigan, Wisconsin, U.S. District Courts for Western Michigan, Western Wisconsin, and Eastern Wisconsin. Mr. Eliason attended Undergrad at Michigan Technological University, where he majored in Metallurgical Engineering & Economics and graduated from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Marquette University.