Episode 156 (12/29/18) – Featuring David Barensfeld

Staying the Course:  How David Barensfeld Grew The Annual Sales of The Ellwood Group from $25 Million in 1983 To $1 Billion Today


In 1910, brothers David and Jonathan Evans opened the doors of a steel manufacturing company in Ellwood City, PA.

That company’s name?  The Ellwood Group.

Its name is as simple and straightforward as their approach to business: maximizing their profits to reinvest in their business, their operations, and their people, to ensure they have the best tools, the best equipment, and the best materials and metals to achieve their goal.

It’s a leadership that truly reflects a family business, starting with the Evans Brothers, and continuing through five generations to present day with Chairman David Barensfeld, and one that remains on the forefront of entrepreneurship and business innovation, despite company tendencies that one might not typically associate with “cutting edge”.

Case in point 1: When the steel and manufacturing industries were dying off in Western Pennsylvania in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Ellwood Group doubled down, increasing their footprint by investing in new facilities.

Case in point 2:  While other firms in manufacturing and other industries were selling out to private equity in order to thrive (and, in some cases, survive), or even going public, the Ellwood Group eschewed these approaches,  keeping the entirety of their common stock in the family (literally….35 family members hold all of the common stock), enabling all decision making to truly serve the best interest of the company, its customers, its people, and the communities in which they do business, in lieu of being beholden to those outside of the company.

It’s an approach that has served the company well the entire way, and it is an approach that David Barensfeld is proud to continue to adhere as he has taken the company to unforeseen heights in over 30 years at the helm, growing the company from $25 million to $1 billion in that time.  He believes that, while, yes, “eds and meds” have taken over as the bellwether industries in Western Pennsylvania, there is still room for heavy manufacturing’s seat at the table.
On this  edition of “The Raja Show”, Dave joins Raja to tell his story, that of the company, and discuss why heavy manufacturing can and should be every bit as relevant as it was during the heyday of the “Steel City”.

Listen to Raja’s interview with David here.