Family matters to the Kusbels.
In a serendipitous moment Thursday, Jerome Kusbel Sr. delivered the first railcar to his son Jerome II’s Kapital Steel in East Chicago.
Kapital hasn’t been able to unload railcars without a rail spur at its location on 143rd Street. The company had one installed recently and began accepting rail shipments directly Thursday.
“It just so happens that my father is the switchman for (Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad). He delivers all the railcars around East Chicago,” Kusbel II said. “He got a kick out of delivering the first railcar to Kapital Steel, a father delivering the first railcar to a steel service center that his son opened.
“I even got a little choked up.”
Kusbel Sr. said he's been with IHB for about 42 years. He’ll be retiring later this year.
“It was very cool. What a way to end your career,” Kusbel Sr. said. “My bosses were very impressed.”
Kusbell II, who lives in St. John and graduated from Bishop Noll, has about 28 years experience in the steel industry. He went out on his own, starting Kapital, in November 2015.
Kapital is a distributor, buying steel in bulk and piecing it out to customers throughout the Midwest. The company is still in growth mode, Kusbel II said, and sales are increasing every month.
“The railspur is huge because it’s going to save us a ton of money,” he said.
Previously, Kapital sent railcars to a transloader about 20 miles away, which added cost to both unload and ship it to East Chicago.
Kusbel Sr., of Schererville, held two jobs for most of his life, also working as an electrician. He said he made sure to spend time with the kids when came home.
“As far as work ethic is concerned, he was the sole motivator with his job, working in the hot and the cold and everything else,” the younger Kusbel said. “He always told me ‘Don’t just go get a job. You should one day give jobs.’”
That’s exactly what Kusbel’s doing at Kapital, where he has four full-time and five part-time employees.
East Chicago isn’t just a good location, Kusbel II said. It’s also the town where he was born. His grandfather Joe started J&K Electric there in 1959.
A connection helped him get a good rate on the property, too.
“(Opening in East Chicago) was kind of like coming back to my own stomping grounds,” he said. “There’s times when I kind of get a little misty eyed coming through here where my grandfather had a business here. My dad works here. Now, I’m coming back to bring a business here.”