4/11/2013 — When Jeremy Flack and his former business partner ran a steel company in 2004, a difference in style caused the business to close six years later, with the partners going their separate ways. When Flack founded Flack Steel in 2010, he knew he would do things his own way.
“I had a lot of ideas, and I saw a lot of opportunities with the last business I was with,” says Flack. “In this business I’ve been able to free up ideas and capital to pursue our own model.”
Flack Steel distributes various steel products across North America. The steel is used to build anything from shelving to rail cars. As an added service Flack, who has a financial background, provides market analysis and steel purchasing counsel to his customers, holding space on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
“Offering derivatives-based pricing strategies for customers allows us to more closely mirror how they buy their raw materials to how they go to market with their products,” explains Flack. “Most steel companies do not engage in this yet because they have a general lack of knowledge of the commodities futures industry and seem to be reluctant to educate themselves.” Furthermore, Flack Steel doesn’t own equipment, allowing the company to develop unbiased supply chains.
Flack’s model works. The Warehouse District-based company has grown from one employee to 28, and sells 180,000 tons of steel a year to OEM customers.
While many people in Northeast Ohio would argue that the steel industry is a thing of the past, Flack is quick to say that’s not so. “As long as there is society, there is going to be a steel business,” he says. “There’s as much steel made in the United States today as there has ever been.”
The difference is steel is made a lot faster with fewer people. That’s why Flack goes above and beyond in his company. “By dealing in futures and options for steel, we’re rather cutting-edge,” he says. “We’re kind of shaking it up, kind of maverick. We’ve got a new take on building a business.”
Flack attributes his rapid growth to having the right relationships, hiring the right people and staying ahead of the curve.
“We have consistent earnings and a flexible cost model, which has helped us to attract banking capital,” he explains. “We are progressive thinkers, use open architecture software, and encourage risk taking and innovation in our workforce. We are progressive in an industry that is rooted in tradition. Unless you do something differently you have a long road ahead.”
Flack moved here 18 years ago and has no intention of going any place else. “This is a good place to be,” he says. “I’m a Cleveland native now. My business relationships are here, this is where I know people. This is the Silicon Valley of the steel industry.”