Chairman of Sharon Tube is not quite ready to retireBy Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
Irwin Yanowitz doesn't have a nickname.
But if he did, ``The Quiet Man'' would be a good one for the soft-spoken chairman of Sharon Tube Co.
A 1997 Buhl Day honoree, the 71-year-old's roots are firmly planted in the Shenango Valley. Over the years, he's been a member of almost every economic development organization, along with a slew of social groups and Jewish organizations.
In a way, he was destined for his position with the Sharon pipe and tube maker.
Irwin Yanowitz says his roots are firmly planted in the Shenango Valley. He's been involved in almost every economic development organization that has formed, along with other social groups. (Michael Roknick/Herald)
Growing up on Cedar Avenue in Sharon, his father, Meyer Yanowitz, was president of the company during the '40s and early '50s. His father moved the family to Sharon in 1929.
His father helped to create Sharon Tube during a rugged time _ the Great Depression.
``Those first couple of years must have been difficult,'' Yanowitz said. ``That was a hard time in the community.''
During this same time, Yanowitz joined the Boy Scouts, an organization he's been associated with for 60 years. He was a member of Troop 3 at First Presbyterian Church in Sharon. Former Mercer County Common Pleas Judge Albert Acker was his patrol leader.
Yanowitz later helped form a troop at Temple Beth Israel in Sharon, where he was a member.
Working at Sharon Tube during his school years, Yanowitz got a feel for the business by working in the mill and its administrative offices.
After getting a master's degree from Harvard University in 1951, his father invited him back to Sharon Tube for a full-time job. At the time, the company was building a new plant on Mill Street in Sharon which remains as the company's core operations.
``That wasn't an easy time to start something like this because the Korean War started,'' he said.
His first job with the company was to oversee equipment purchases for the new mill. It took a year to build the plant and operations were started after the 1952 national steel strike ended.
``We began producing a good product right away,'' he said.
At the time, Sharon Steel Corp., Westinghouse Electric Corp., GATX and Midland Ross all had huge local plants. Sharon Steel and Westinghouse were the biggest, employing 7,000 and nearly 10,000 respectively.
``All three of us pipe and tube mills: Sharon Tube, Wheatland Tube, Sawhill Tubular, were much smaller then,'' Yanowitz said. ``We weren't at the top of the totem pole like we are now.''
He became vice president of sales at Sharon Tube in 1952, a position he served until 1971 when he was named president.
``I was out of town quite a bit when I was in sales,'' he remembers. ``But I always enjoyed coming back to Sharon.
It was during the 1960s and '70s that Sharon Tube began to diversify and expand. Yanowitz helped to lead that growth by demanding workers and executives come through on their promises to improve quality and increase production.
``That's something I've always insisted on,'' Yanowitz said. ``A promise is a promise. If you make a promise, you'd better deliver.''
After retiring in 1991, Yanowitz remained with the company as a consultant and was named chairman in 1996. These days he splits his time living in Sharon during the summer and Longboat Key, Fla., during the winter.
While in Sharon, Yanowitz comes in to the company's office for a few hours each day.
Not wanting to retire yet, Yanowitz said he plans to remain at his post for awhile.
``I've never found any place in the world I thought was nicer,'' Yanowitz said.