From very humble beginnings operating out of the trunk of a station wagon to 45 years of excellence, Steeler, Inc. is the result of the determination of one man who built up a team of people, a network of facilities, manufacturing capabilities and an expansive product offering to become a one-stop shop that could meet the diverse needs of its customers and the construction projects they undertake.
Steeler was founded by Matt Surowiecki, a Polish immigrant who used his experience with fasteners and the construction trades to break through into the market as a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality steel framing products and so much more. Proudly Buy American, its story is one of the American Dream coming to fruition.
According to his son and Chief Operating Officer Matt Surowiecki Jr., “Steeler was started by the founder basically selling fasteners and drywall screws out of the back of his station wagon back in the early 1970s. As he grew the company, he added the capability of manufacturing steel framing and also widened Steeler’s distribution into tools and all drywall products.”
Today, the company is a manufacturer of steel studs and tracks, wall studs, floor joists, channels, clips, brake shapes and custom orders, as well as a distributor of insulation, drywall, caulking, sealants, primer, paint and finishes. Just like its product offerings have grown, so too have the talent and footprint of the company.
Today, Steeler, Inc. operates a total of fourteen locations in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane and Redmond, Washington; Portland and Tigard, Oregon; North Highlands, Newark, Bakersfield and San Diego, California; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Belgrade, Montana; and Delta, British Columbia, Canada.
Steeler, Inc.’s impressive manufacturing capabilities and the reach of its distribution network enable it to go above and beyond for its customers. Founder Matt Surowiecki is known for saying, “Yes we can,” and when it comes to servicing customers’ needs, this is the principle upon which the company has successfully grown.
“We cannot limit our customers. Our customers have different needs every day and we build a relationship with our customers in order to have the opportunity to service their everyday needs. Whether it’s odd or common, we will try to make it happen,” explained General Manager Dave Matthews.
Making it happen in this case means doing the research for the customer, including product research, technical data, price and availability, and when products aren’t available, Steeler, Inc. has the manufacturing capability to deliver, whether it’s a profile that exists in-house or a competitor’s profile.
“If a customer has a big job and he requires a stud to be ten feet, eight inches and a quarter-inch thick, we will make as many studs as he wants at that specified length,” said Matthews. “Most manufacturers don’t sell to the end user, to the subcontractor. Most manufacturers go through a distributor, where we go direct to the client and we make custom parts, custom lengths per the customer’s job.”
One key product to highlight is Steeler, Inc.’s Elite Steel Framing System™, the next generation of cold-formed steel framing products. Described as “User friendly, Steeler tough,” the product is lighter without sacrificing strength and offers unmatched efficiency versus the competition in terms of transportation, labor and material costs. It makes sense for projects and for the bottom line.
The Elite Steel Framing System™ is designed to be safer, smarter and eco-friendly. Because less steel is used in its production, it is considered a green product and is one of many Steeler products that can help you earn LEED® points on your project.
As Steeler is established in one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S., it is poised to take full advantage of the growth opportunities that present themselves as the only manufacturer that raw roll forms in the area. “We have the ability to give our customers extra LEED® points just being so close to their jobsites,” Matthews explained.
Marketing Manager Alyvia Miller noted, “The LEED® products help us to maintain eco-friendly standards and the Buy American policies allow us to help bolster the domestic economy,” which further elevates the value the company offers to its customers.
Steeler, Inc. also operates in accordance with a stringent quality control and safety program. As a member of the Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA), as well as the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI) it ensures quality and accountability to its customers.
“A third-party testing agency does two surprise plan inspections and audits per year, completely unannounced. We start all the way from the traceability from our raw coils, all the way through the process where it sits on our shelf. Each product is tested, ensured for quality, measurements, strength, and thickness, and it keeps all of us competitors in a level playing field,” Matthews explained of SFIA membership.
Indeed, the company is second to none when it comes to quality, lead times, service and delivery at competitive prices. To remain competitive, it continues to invest in its equipment and its people to ensure that it remains a trusted choice. “Matt Sr. invests everything back into Steeler and that’s what gives us the funds that have allowed us to continue to grow and keep up-to-date,” said Matthews. Investments are constantly being made to upgrade both the equipment and the facilities.
“Just last year we invested in five new boom trucks that can stock materials with a crane on the outside that goes up to the seventh floor of a building. Last year we also invested in a new roll former and we’re investing in a new roll former this year,” Matthews explained.
Steeler, Inc. is even making moves to refresh its web presence to provide a highly informative and user-friendly platform for its customers. The new website aims at providing customers with a more detailed and up-to-date product selection, as the choices are varied and ever-changing. “We are also exploring the possibility of creating customer accounts that would track order history and elevate the service that we provide to our loyal customers,” said Miller, who, together with Web Programmer David DeLeon-Smith, is tasked with leading the overhaul.
The goal is to have a more automated resource base, ranging from up-to-date product information to technical information, complementary product suggestions and much more, including a mobile compatible website platform.
Steeler, Inc. not only endeavors to be a great manufacturer and distributor, it strives to maintain its reputation as a good corporate citizen. As a family-owned entity, there is a level of culture and understanding that breeds excellence. “The authorities at Steeler create a positive environment with strong work-life balance for their employees that directly converts to high output; our team comes to work with a healthy mindset and more to invest back into the company,” said Miller.
For its efforts to facilitate a positive culture, the company is rewarded by long-tenured employees who enjoy coming to work each day. Steeler promotes from within and invests in its people because, as Matthews noted, “Without your staff you are nothing, and we know that.”
Mr. Surowiecki even paid for the tuition of two of the company’s employees to attain their commercial driver’s license, which helps to alleviate the challenges associated with the driver shortage – though it’s not just market challenges Steeler helps its employees overcome; it’s personal challenges as well. A long-time employee of Steeler, Inc. had an unexpected death in the family and Mr. Surowiecki covered the airfare for that person to attend the funeral out of the country. As Matthews said, “When an employee has a problem, it’s a Steeler problem.”
In the broader community, Steeler, Inc. supports initiatives to combat homelessness and sponsors numerous sports teams. The culture is one where the company takes every opportunity to offer its employees and those who need it a hand up.
The company continues to invest in and modernize its operations to build the opportunity to address the needs of its customers, its employees and the communities it calls home. As a result, it is still going strong forty-five years later.
“Steeler is the longest going steel stud manufacturer in the U.S. without filing bankruptcy or merging, so that’s a big feather in our cap,” explained Matthews. And while the company has every reason to celebrate this forty-five-year milestone, it is looking forward to forty-five more years as a leading family-owned, privately held steel manufacturer and distributor.