From his first days at Berlin Metals, Roy Berlin had the opportunity to work alongside an inspiring teacher.
“My father (Melvin) advised me on effective sales and purchasing strategies in my early years and then, as I gained more experience, I became his right-hand man and adviser,” he said.
“I was very fortunate to grow up with a father who was a smart, hard-working and ethical businessman," Berlin added. "And I was even more fortunate to be able to work alongside him for a number of years until he retired from the steel business about 15 years ago."
The Berlin family purchased the company in 1967, which was launched in 1932 as Hokin Steel and Tinplate. The family moved the company to Hammond from Chicago more than 30 years ago.
“Simply put, we're a value-added processor and distributor of thin metals, primarily tinplate, light gauge cold-rolled steel and stainless steel,” Berlin said. “Much of the steel we buy is made in Northwest Indiana."
Berlin’s background helped build a base for his career at Berlin Metals, which began in 1988 with the role of outside salesman. He moved to director of purchasing in 1992, executive vice president in 1995 and president in 1999.
“Previously, I had a number of different jobs - taxi driver, commercial photographer and Realtor - that helped me learn a great deal about people and business. You could say I’ve been involved in business all my life,” he said.
Bill McDunn, Berlin Metals vice president of finance, says Berlin guides the company and employees by example.
“He’s good to his people and has ingrained in us to always be fair,” McDunn says. “He’s a great person, very open and honest and generous with his time, money and sharing of his knowledge.”
Berlin Metals has made donations for many years to the Acorn Foundation in Hammond to provide scholarship funds to local high school students who excelled in math and science.
Berlin is also active in the Metal Service Institute Center, a national trade association of metal processors and distributors. The association awards hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in scholarship money to the high achieving, college-age children of employees of member companies.
While many people are an inspiration to Berlin, grandfathers Joseph Berlin and Maurice Lamm have been key sources.
“I’m generally inspired by people who work hard to support themselves and their family, working to make a better life, Berlin said.
“And I’m also tremendously inspired by immigrants who come to this country knowing no one, not speaking the language, taking any job they can find, working multiple jobs to support themselves, who then get an education, raise a family, put their kids through college, and make a successful life for themselves and their family.
“Both my grandfathers were people like this and I think that they and others like them were and are very brave and admirable.”