By Rachel Dutil | Photo by Jessica McCafferty
Issue: April 2022
A supply chain struggle in 1989 inspired Tom Steele to form Steele Truss and Panel Company currently run by his son Rob.
The younger Steele grew up in the business. As a child he swept the floors and then worked into other roles as he matured. “I’ve worked my way up to president and CEO,” he said. Steele studied Business and International Marketing at both Clinton Community College and SUNY Plattsburgh. He also attended design school.
Working virtually every job in the business, gave Rob a unique perspective and appreciation for his team which currently numbers 40 full-time employees in the off-season and 75 during peak season. The company also has on-the-road salesmen, remote engineers and install crews. “It is good to have an overall knowledge of everything, especially in the sales department,” he explained. “Our sales force is what drives the business.”
TURNING TO STEEL
“Our products are the skeleton of a building,” Steele explained. Trusses and wall panels provide structural support. “We form the shell and then you put the pretty stuff over it.”
At the start, the products Tom Steele offered were all wood. By 1997, the company started to sell light gauge steel roof trusses, which were new to the market. “They really took off,” Rob observed. “We became one of the pioneers of light gauge trusses in the market. The product is different from wood. It allows us to do longer spans, the material is non-combustible, termites don’t hurt it, and it is weather resistant, and its protective coating safeguards against corrosion from salt and gases from septic plants. It’s a great product.”
Steele Truss and Panel (STP) offers light gauge steel roof trusses, floor trusses, wall panels, and various other light gauge steel custom products. Today the company’s sales are about 90% light gauge steel products. Their wood products are primarily sold in Northern New York and Vermont. STP owns a fleet of trucks and delivers to 17 states.
Products are fabricated and assembled in its facility on Trade Road off Route 22 in the Town of Plattsburgh. They are then packaged and shipped to site in sequence to be off-loaded and assembled.
HIGH PROFILE PROJECTS
Light gauge steel products are used almost exclusively in commercial properties. STP works on high rise buildings in major cities, skyscrapers, senior citizen homes, hospitals, and hotels. “Those are our bread and butter. The North Country hasn’t really caught on to light gauge building yet,” Rob said, noting that most of his steel projects are in the Albany and Watertown areas.
Steele is proud that he and his team can figure out and bring to completion projects that are so complicated other companies might shy away from them. “Being the best we can be and putting out a quality product on time is something worth talking about, which is why we have a really good customer base.”
Steele leads the sales team for STP and enjoys that he gets to meet new people and interact with customers. “I really enjoy that there is always something different. There’s always a different way to negotiate something,” he said. “It’s about finding what the customer is really looking for and tuning into that.”
Steele hopes to introduce a line of new products by the end of the year that will assist owners, developers, and contractors to better meet their preliminary budgetary numbers. “We have a lot of great clients and we do a really good job and our customers always come back to us,” he concluded.
Steele Truss & Panel LLC
118 Trade Rd.
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
GUS’ RED HOTS
Rob Steele grew up on Cumberland Head and visited Gus’ Red Hots restaurant on the corner of Route 9 and the Cumberland Head Road since he was a child. “I’ve always loved the restaurant,” he said. “It had that old school diner look and it was a staple in the community.”
When Steele heard Gus’ was going to be torn down, he was distressed. “That was the last thing I’d want to see,” he said.
Steele and his wife, Jeannette, decided to purchase the property and maintain the name and the diner’s vibe. We weren’t sure that if we called it Rob and Jeannette’s it would draw as many customers so we stayed with the name,” Rob said.
The Steeles renovated the restaurant and re-opened Memorial Day Weekend 2021. Taking on the restaurant project was daunting as neither Steele nor his wife had any experience in the industry. “It was a learning process,” he said. Steele credits a great team for helping to get where they are at now. Jeannette runs the front of the house for Gus’. Rob spends most of his time at Steele Truss and Panel, but can often be found at Gus’ on the weekends.
A wraparound deck was built as part of the renovation which allows customers to dine outside in the summer. The Steeles are looking forward to hosting live music and other events on the deck this summer. “I really want to develop the North End. That’s what I’m going for,” Steele concluded.
Gus’ Red Hots
5 Commodore Thomas MacDonough Highway
Plattsburgh, NY 12901