10/20/2011 — Jeremy Flack, a steel industry entrepreneur who started his own steel distribution company last year, likes to brag that Flack Steel is the first new steel company to locate in downtown Cleveland in quite a while. Not only did he choose the Warehouse District to locate his fledgling company, he’s also a downtown resident.

“People ask, ‘Does anyone still make steel in Cleveland?'” Flack says. “The answer is Yes! In fact, the decline of manufacturing jobs in industrial America is really a bit of a fallacy. Right now, there is a trend of ‘re-shoring’ taking place.”

Flack Steel doesn’t actually make steel or own steel warehouses. Rather, the company uses third-party and contract warehouses to distribute to locations across the U.S., a model that allows it to be flexible and sell to facilities anywhere.

“Using the old model, we had to find a suppler in each market,” Flack says. “This model allows us to provide a point of sale when others can’t.”

Now the one-year-old company, which is headquartered at W. 6th and Lakeside, is going through a growth spurt. Flack just hired a new sales force and is preparing for additional growth. He now employs 16 full-time staffers.

Part of what has made the company successful is the company’s investment in technology. “The industry has been woefully behind in understanding technology, and people want information,” Flack explains. “We’ve designed a website that allows people to see the price of steel — our customers want transparency.”

Flack is hoping that he can update Cleveland’s reputation as a cradle of old-school manufacturing. He wants it to become known instead as a hub for manufacturing innovation. “There’s an opportunity for cities like Cleveland to take advantage of trends and rebuild our manufacturing base using new technologies,” he says.

(via Fresh WaterCleveland.com)