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Stories from the Steel Industry

By Jelani Rucker
on October 15, 2018

Everyone with a connection to the steel industry has a story worth sharing. That’s a lot of stories, considering 140,000 Americans currently work in steel, and each of their positions creates seven supporting jobs across other industries.

Here are some of our favorite stories we’ve received from current and retired American workers:

  • “After serving eight years in the U.S. Army Infantry during the Vietnam War, I finished college and started my first job: working inside sales for the world’s premier stainless bar supplier, Carpenter Technology. At the time I had no idea I would spend my next 40 years selling American steel! I’ve sold for Ryerson Steel, Central Steel and others. It has been a great life, working with great people throughout the USA who became my friends. Then 10 years ago, I started over again by launching the company T&T Materials, which supports the U.S. Department of Defense and DOD suppliers with metals to help protect our country and keep our servicemen and servicewomen safe.” — James Terhune, T&T Materials
  • “My maternal grandfather, Charles Crawford, was a foreman at Republic Steel’s bloom / billet mills at Cleveland Works. I lived with him and my grandmother from 1944 to 1945 and walked the mill grounds with Grandpa Crawford in the early ’50s. Proud to be the grandson of an American steel man!” — Glenn Davion
  • “Much of my family worked in steel. Both my paternal grandfather and his father (who originally worked for Carnegie) owned Pittsburgh steel mills. My grandfather started as a roll turner in 1910 at age 15 and retired in 1972 at age 77!” — Robert Cochran
  • “For years I imported steel wire products from other countries, either because they weren’t available in the USA or they weren’t economical to source here. But with new steel tariffs in effect, we’ve invested in machinery to manufacture wire products from domestically made wire rod.” — William Jones, WCJ Pilgrim Wire
  • “I started right out of high school as a laborer for a reinforcing steel fabricator. After three years I was promoted to master machine operator, which meant I was able to operate any and all machines in our plant. These machines included the shears, cranes, benders and yard jockey driver. Then I was promoted to shift leader and started our first night shift. My team and I were very successful, and I was promoted again to daytime shop foreman. By adding the second shift and increasing production on the day shift, we grew our production from 10,000 to 40,000 tons annually. I was promoted again to shipping supervisor, production manager, inventory manager and safety development manager. After 10 years I was promoted to upper management. What a success story for a man who came from very little and worked his way to the top. Anything is possible in America with hard work and determination.” — Timothy Taylor
  • “I grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when my uncles worked for steel companies in Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cleveland. Through thick and thin, their standard of living was extraordinary. Then came free trade with China and Japan, and the families were never the same. Many towns faced poverty and difficult times. When will this country learn that we need to return to America First?” — Greg Gross, Patterson Leach
  • “Your TV commercial inspired me to create a new company statement, shown here. Cleveland Corporation has been a Chicago-based industrial scrap processing company since 1958. Our mission is to support domestic steel mills as we always have and always will. We do not export our processed scrap steel!” — Bob Kujawinski, Cleveland Corporation
  • “I had friends who worked at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point mill in the 1960s and ‘70s. As time went on, I watched that plant become a ghost town and people lose their jobs, due in large part to foreign-subsidized steel. I would dearly love to see the U.S. steel industry come back. I wish you good luck.” — Tom Tubman
  • “I’ve traveled around the world for the food industry, and I’ve observed firsthand that U.S. steel is the best in the world. Impurities abound in Chinese steel; it rusts as soon as it’s washed. I own knives and cooking pans made in the U.S. (inherited from my mom) that are still perfect, but I have knives made in China that rusted within months. No one does steel like us! Thank you, U.S. metals!” — Patricia Sigler
  • See more American worker stories in our video series.

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