The U.S. steel industry has quite the competitive atmosphere, and even with the economy much stronger than in years’ past, many companies still find it difficult to survive. There may not be a magic formula for every steel operation out there, but Pacesetter Steel Service Inc. has found what it needs to keep going, and not just survive, but continue to support its customers and remain responsive to their needs. 

“We believe in servicing our customers, above and beyond processing and supplying flat rolled steel,” explains CEO Aviva Leebow. “We want to be their solutions provider.”

Based in Kennesaw, Ga., Pacesetter owns and operates service centers near Atlanta, Chicago and Houston. The company works closely with its customers to process and supply cold-rolled, galvanized, galvannealed, galvalume, aluminized and pre-painted steel. Its services include coil slitting, cutting to length, precision blanking and CNC punching. 

After more than a century of ry operation, Madsen & Howell has become one of the Northeast’s top independent industrial distributors. Family owned and operated since 1909, Madsen & Howell is one of the largest industrial independent distributors in New Jersey with more than $25 million in sales.

“We are where we are because of our experienced people and our ability to train and educate them,” CEO Peter Madsen says.

Diverse Thinking

Based in Perth Amboy, N.J., Madsen & Howell’s headquarters includes a state-of-the-art, 120,000-square-foot warehouse. In addition, the company has branch operations and a warehouse in West Caldwell, N.J.

After nearly six decades, Luce, Schwab & Kase (LSK) Inc. has cultivated a loyal client base. In fact, 90 percent of the company’s business is for repeat customers, President Jim Luce says.

“We’ve been doing business with most of our customers for 30 years,” he says, noting that LSK often works with family businesses. “We’re always seeking the long-term relationships that will enable us to do business with our customers for a lifetime.”

Fairfield, N.J.-based LSK provides HVAC and refrigeration products. Luce’s father, George Luce, co-founded the company with Frank Schwab and Bill Kase as a refrigeration house in 1957.

Lee Valley Tools has remained successful for nearly 40 years because of its dedication to offering innovative problem-solving products that are backed by its knowledgeable staff and amazing customer service. 

The Ontario, Canada-based company is family owned and has been serving users of woodworking and gardening tools since 1978. “The business was built on finding and selling quality woodworking hand tools and has evolved over time by expanding into the garden and home,” COO Jason Tasse says.  

J&K Sales Associates’ role as a manufacturer’s representative has changed rapidly during the 33 years the company has been in business. “Years ago, we were simply hired as salespeople, but now manufacturers are asking us to do more,” explains Karl Grabowski, president and owner of the Manchester, N.H.-based company. “We have become territory managers, and are responsible for tech support, engineering spec work, contractor training, brand identity building and market communications.”

All of those roles require revenue – which the company historically has had very little control over when it comes to its customers. “It would be great if we got calls from our manufacturers saying they were going to raise our commission, or from our wholesalers saying they were going to pay us more for the products that they purchase from us. Those calls never come,” he adds.

From their Ohio headquarters, IndustryHuddle and its web address have quickly established themselves as a promising, free social trade network for B2B companies and professionals. The goal is to be the social network where professionals can connect with suppliers and customers in their industry to help them increase product sales and generate new business leads. 

“As the director of a buying group, I saw a need for companies to take the marketing and networking aspects of a buying group into an online environment,” President and CEO Zachary Haines says. “We believed there was a need for a social network that actually understood business. This is a place for everyone in all corners of the supply chain, in more than 60 unique product and service industries. Users can sign up for free to build their profile, and they can choose what industries, products and services suit them best.”

Gordon Electric Supply is a full-line wholesale electrical distributor and certified woman-owned business serving Illinois and northwest Indiana. “I’d describe us as a small company with very sophisticated technology,” CEO Cara Gordon Potter says. “We provide the capabilities of a large company but we are flexible and nimble because we are small.”

Gordon Electric Supply was established in 1953 and today serves the commercial, industrial and residential markets. The company has extensive inventory and guarantees that its top 200 products will always be in stock. “With a fully stocked inventory we are able to offer same-day shipping or delivery on many of our products, such as switchgear, lamps, wiring devices, circuit protection, grounding and termination devices, generators, and electrical wiring,” the company says.

Staying fresh is talked about more often when shipping food products, but for Essex Brownell – which distributes electrical transformer and motor components – it is an acronym for the type of service the company is striving to offer. “We are really focused on our ‘fresh’ acronym that captures what we are trying to do – fast, reliable, efficient, sophisticated and honest,” Vice President and General Manager Hank Pennington declares.

“We’re trying to combine the benefits of being large with a national scale with some of the benefits of being local and fast,” he continues. “So our advantage over the small guys is that by being large, we have the ability to support a customer wherever they may be located, which makes a lot of sense for repeat customers with multiple locations. We have the broadest product line in the industry. We can supply all the needs they have for repair or manufacturing distribution, and we have the benefits of scale that leads to a better cost position with our suppliers than the regional guys would have.”

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