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March 11, 2005

O’Neal Adds to Its (Steel) Plate

Brown Gibbons Lang & Company (BGL) today announced the sale of the assets of Leeco Steel Products, Inc., to O’Neal Steel, Inc., a leading North American metals service center. O’Neal will operate these assets under the name Leeco Steel, LLC as a stand-alone company led by current management, including Leeco’s President, Bob Pepoff. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Leeco is a leading niche steel service center focused on specialized types of steel plate including carbon, high strength low alloy, alloy and abrasion resistant, extra high strength and weathering steel.

Before the sale to O’Neal, Leeco was a portfolio company of Churchill Equity Partners, a Minneapolis- based private equity firm. Churchill purchased Leeco in 1997. Since then, Leeco has established itself as one of North America’s leading suppliers of specialized grades of steel plate products.

Headquartered in Darien, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, Leeco differs from its competitors primarily through its extensive inventory of and access to specialized types of steel plate, its unmatched reliability as a supplier, and its overall customer service. The company has longstanding relationships with its customers and with leading steel mills.

Churchill engaged BGL to manage the sale of Leeco due to BGL’s extensive experience in the metals industry, including several recently closed and pending transactions.

“BGL’s knowledge of the steel industry allowed us to identify potential buyers most likely to value Leeco’s strong franchise and to articulate for them the positive changes in the industry. Supplier consolidation, strong demand from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and reduced production capacity in Leeco’s key products have all benefited Leeco,” said Scott Lang, senior managing director and co-head of BGL.

BGL targeted select potential strategic and financial buyers with steel experience that would recognize the Leeco opportunity amid these favorable changes. Leeco’s exceptional management team, strong financial performance and extensive relationships with leading metal fabricators and OEMs attracted considerable attention from potential buyers. Ultimately, O’Neal made the most compelling offer.

“We are pleased with the outcome for Churchill, the employees and the management team. We believe Leeco will prosper in the O’Neal family,” said Bill Haan, partner of Churchill Equity Partners.

“We are excited about adding Leeco to our strong network of service centers,” said Craft O’Neal, chairman of O’Neal Steel, Inc.

“This transaction is good for everyone. We are pleased to have assisted Churchill Equity Partners in achieving a favorable outcome to its Leeco investment, and we believe that O’Neal Steel is an excellent partner for Leeco’s management team,” said John Tilson, director of BGL.

About O’Neal Steel

O’Neal is a leading full-line metals service center, stocking a vast inventory of diverse materials at its nearly 40 strategically located district operations across the country. O’Neal, which is the largest family-owned metals service center in the United States, also provides its customers with high-quality multi-stage metals processing.