CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Sam Siegel, a key figure in the history of Nucor Corporation (NYSE: NUE), passed away Sunday, June 2. The company is remembering his many contributions that helped build it into the nation's largest steel producer and recycler. "All of us at Nucor are deeply saddened by the loss of Sam Siegel, who was instrumental in helping mold Nucor into the company that it is today," said John Ferriola, Chief Executive Officer and President. "He was there from the very beginning working alongside Ken Iverson to build a truly remarkable American company." Siegel joined the company in 1961 as an accountant when it was still Nuclear Corporation of America. The company struggled financially for several years, prompting Siegel to briefly quit over concerns about the direction of the company. Siegel offered to come back, but only if Ken Iverson was made president. That offer marked a dramatic turning point for Nucor and the entire American steel industry. With Iverson and Siegel in place, the two turned around a nearly bankrupt company and started a revolution in American steelmaking. In 1969, Nucor began operating its first steel minimill in Darlington, South Carolina. At the time the technology, which uses an electric arc furnace to turn scrap metal into new steel, was not widely used in the U.S. Nucor would go on to be the first U.S. steelmaker that only used minimills. Today, minimills account for 60 percent of U.S. steel production. "Sam and Ken were a great team. It is not an overstatement to say that they completely changed the American steel industry," said Dan DiMicco, Nucor's Executive Chairman. "They also laid the foundational values that still guide Nucor to this day - lean management structure, placing responsibility for decision making at the plant level, and paying for performance. That is an impressive legacy. I will also be forever grateful to Sam for supporting me as Nucor's CEO in September 2000." Another legacy of Siegel's is the company's name. With the company's focus shifting away from nuclear technology to the steel industry, stockholders voted in 1971 to change the name to Nucor – a name that was suggested by Siegel. In 1975, Siegel began the practice of including the names of all Nucor employees on the cover of the annual report, a practice that continues to this day. In 1975, the names of Nucor's 2,300 employees fit on one page. In the 2012 annual report, the names of the 22,200 employees are included on 16 pages.