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The Start of Steel Warehouse

Celebrating 75 Years of Success

In 1947 Nathan Lerman started Steel Warehouse. Since then a path of innovation, partnership, hard work and integrity built the business it is today.

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The Story Begins...


Nate Lerman arrives in South Bend after receiving a football scholarship from Notre Dame, where he is coached by Knute Rockne

As a middle linebacker for Rock Island High School, Nate gains the notice of Notre Dame scouts. In a game against Moline High School, their lineman shouts every play in Yiddish, which Nate understands. This enables him to be position for each play, impressing the scouts in attendance. He accepts a walk-on offer to play football for the university. To attend he works for a year to save for tuition. He is hurt scrimmaging against ND varsity and is unable to play again. While at ND he does meet Francis Linderman, who became his wife.


Nate, an entrepreneur, starts several businesses

Nate starts his first business, Lerman Freight Lines, with a single, doorless truck. He grows this to a 10-truck fleet with a route from Rock Island to Chicago to South Bend. After functioning as chief mechanic, driver and salesman, he sells the company and returns to South Bend where he drives a kosher bakery truck. Years later, he would hire Bill Yuhasz, who as a kid stole cookies from the truck.
During WWII, while a machinist at Bendix, Nate buys himself a used lathe. Receiving a small contract to machine shafts for wartime components from a Bendix friend, he invests in a small garage and hires a machine operator. The lathe is incapable of achieving the required dimensions, so he finds a machine shop to finish the parts. This move would have cost him any profit but, providentially, the war comes to an end. Payment is based upon percentage of contract completion, so Nate gets 90% of the sale price

Nate’s next starts a company that makes steel egg timers and toy trucks. His bank introduces him to visiting businessman Herman Segal and together they form a 50/50 joint venture called International Manufacturing Company (IMC). They start in an office on Main Street in South Bend where using a bathroom requires them going to the bowling alley next door.

With the post-war impact on manufacturing, the company is able to get coil steel originally allocated to Nate’s friend at Bendix. However, they struggle to make ends meet, so Nate contacts a company using similar steel to see if they are in interested in buying the inventory. Offering more than double the price that IMC had paid, Nate is shocked about the offer and remains silent. Thinking that Nate wasn’t happy with the price, they raise the price even more. Finally, Nate says, "I’ll take it".


Nate starts Steel Warehouse partnering with Herman Segal in South Bend

Nate uses the large profit he made at IMC selling coil steel to buy more steel, starting Steel Warehouse, his second company with Herman Segal. He starts by brokering -- finding steel for sale, including rejects, and making stock lists while developing relationships with other brokers. He then buys a shear, enabling him to sell sheet steel cut to finished sizes. To boost the strength of his stock list, he often includes steel that he doesn’t necessarily have, but knows he can get.


Herb Jones joins company to run our first slitter 

Nate buys the company’s first slitter from Wean Equipment, where it’s made clear that operating this machine is much different than running a shear. Wean asks Nate, “Who’s going to operate this thing?” They put him in touch with Herb Jones, located in Detroit, who becomes the company’s first and legendary self-taught engineer and slitter operator.


Batch pickling begins (up to 1/2" coil)

Looking to increase its supplier status to Bendix requires the company to provide pickled product. In order to be cost-competitive in this area, the company starts buying hot band steel and pickles it in-house.


Dave Lerman (current Chairman of the Board) joins company 

Nate buys out partner, Herman Segal, and recruits his son Dave, who leaves RCA - Defense & Space Electronics Division, to join him and run the company based on their mutual vision.


Slitter Upgraded- Slitting 1/4" up to 12 cuts

Steel Warehouse installs one of the world’s first ½” multi-cut capable slitters. This equipment was designed and built at the company’s in-house machine shop, run by Herb Jones. A genius in mechanical engineering and machinery, his formal education was only through the 3rd grade


Slitter Upgraded- up to 1/2" 3 cuts


Mike Lerman (current President of Steel Warehouse) joins company 

Mike, a teacher and wresting coach at Providence High School, is recruited by his brother and dad to join the company.


 Jim Lerman joins company in opening SW WIsconsin in Milwaukee 

Jim leaves Brandeis University in his junior year to join the family business and run Steel Warehouse of Wisconsin.


Dave Lerman steps into CEO after Nate's untimely death

Dave takes over as CEO, receiving this sage advice from company accountant Sy Mandorf, "You ain't your old man, you better shrink the company so you can run it."


Gerry Lerman joins company as legal counsel

Gerry, a successful New York attorney, is recruited by brother Dave. Although paid well by his firm, Gerry was tired of the extensive hours and ready to leave New York. In addition to work, Gerry also helps build up local South Bend Jewish Institutions – a synagogue, day school, kolel and Yeshiva.


1st coil to coil Temper Mill up to 5/16" high strength

A coil-to-coil temper mill, thought to be one of only a few capable of processing high strength steels up to 5/16”, is purchased from Youngstown Sheet and Tube and redesigned.


Ted Lerman (Current CEO) joins company

Ted, a CPA with an MBA, joins his brothers at the company as CFO.


Marc Lerman (Current CCO) the first 3rd generation joins Steel Warehouse, straight from floor of Chicago Board of Trade.  

Marc Lerman (Current CCO) the first 3rd generation joins Steel Warehouse, straight from floor of Chicago Board of Trade.


SW of Portage (Burns Harbor), IN opens

Steel Warehouse acquires Lawndale Steel, which is later moved to new building with upgraded equipment in Port of Indiana.


1st temper mill inline introduced with cut to length line

When competition takes Steel Warehouse’s idea of joining a temper mill with a cut-to-length line, the company competes and ups the game with a higher quality version, capable of processing 5/8” thick material and later upgraded to 1” capability. The new temper cut-to-length line opens the door to more business with major OEMs.


Billy Lerman Joins Steel Warehouse

After playing pro Ice Hockey in Sweden, Dave's son, Billy joins Steel Warehouse as Manager of Transportation and then becomes VP of Operations.


1st rotary sheer for temper mill line over 1/2"

Productivity and blanking tolerances are increased substantially as the rotary shear eliminates creases that were occurring from stopping the line while the temper mill was pushed down.


SW of Rock Island, IL opens

As business increases in Quad City area, Steel Warehouse moves a line from South Bend to Rock Island, helping compete with competition in the region.


SW of Memphis, TN opens

Originally a joint venture with Southern Fab, this location opens the door to business in the South and Steel Warehouse introduces the first temper pass cut-to-length line in the southern U.S. Temper pass cut to length capabilities up to 96"x5/8".


SW of Chattanooga opens

Per a request from Dave, Rick Quinn, president of Steel Warehouse Memphis, confirms the viability of adding a Steel Warehouse section to a new plant being built for Lock Joint Tube, another Lerman company. This further expands the company’s reach into southeast markets.


SW opens the Cold Mill and Annealing in South Bend


Danny Lerman joins the company in International Sales and Marketing

Coming from the music business, Dave's son Danny joins the company, producing corporate videos and then moving to international sales for specialty products from South Africa, Turkey, and Israel. He then heads up the newly-formed marketing department.


Dave Lerman is named Metal Center New's Service Center Executive of the year


Shlomo Lerman joins Lerman Enterprises

Gerry's son focuses on internal communications across all Lerman businesses.


SW of Mexico opens. First foray outside of the US.

With OEMs in Mexico only able to get the temper pass cut-to-length quality steel by importing, Steel Warehouse becomes the first company to offer this technology in the region. Temper pass cut to length capabilities up to 96"x5/8".


SW purchases Chesterfield Steel in Cleveland, OH

Fulfilling a request from Tata Steel, a major supplier partner, Steel Warehouse buys Chesterfield Steel in Cleveland, expanding the company’s offering into new markets looking for lighter, high specialty grades.


SW of Ohio opens

With South Bend at full capacity and an opportunity to compete against other companies in Cleveland while serving new markets, some customers are moved to the Chesterfield facility. Temper pass cut to length capabilities up to 96"x5/8".


Nathan Lerman joins Lerman Enterprises as Vice President of Government Affairs

Dave's nephew joins Lerman Enterprises focusing on gvmt affairs.


SW SB Profiling opens

Acting upon several customers’ needs, Steel Warehouse adds profiled parts to its offering.


SW of Alabama opens

The company opens a new facility and builds the world’s first 1” capable coil-to-coil pickler, stationed next to what is now the AM/NS mill.


SW partners with SSS to open SW of Houston, Texas

The company accepts a proposal to partner from SSS, helping expand the company’s market in Texas and the southwest.


Worlds 1st temper pass cut to length 120"x1" in SW Houston


Company-wide upgrade of all temper pass to 1"


Sally Lerman joins company as Legal Counsel

Sally, attorney and Nate's only daughter, leaves private practice in Boston, and becomes corporate counsel for Steel Warehouse.


SW of Arkansas opens next to Big River Mill in Osceola, AK

This new facility starts with offering one of the heaviest gauge-capable slitting lines in the U.S., later adding a stretcher leveler cut-to-length line and blanking line.


SW partners with CISA to open SW Brazil

This facility offers the first temper pass line in the Southern Hemisphere. Sized at 96"x1", it processes cut-to-length sheets up to 1" with a degree of flatness and stress relief not previously available in Brazil.


SW purchases Siegal Steel in Chicago, IL

Specializing in oscillate wound coil and 10b38 alloy steel, this acquisition brings new niche capability to the company.


SW SB pickler upgrades to 1" thick


Reuven Lerman joins Steel Warehouse's engineering team

Reuven, Ted's son, joins the engineering team as a Mechanical Assistant.


Mike Lerman is named Metal Center New's Service Center Executive of the year


SW Cleveland launches world's 1st pickler capable of up to 96"x2"


SW SB Cold Mill Expansion

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