Sheet & Tube name rises from the ashes — online


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

For decades after its creation in 1900, the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. embodied the link between city and steel.

A home-grown operation, Sheet & Tube was founded by industrialists who wished to retain local control of the city’s manufacturing industry. In its prime it did so with remarkable success, eventually ranking among the country’s top steel companies.

Then came the infamous industry collapse in the late 1970s.

The S&T name languished along with its abandoned mills.

Then, in late 2013, a group of Youngstown natives discovered that Sheet & Tube’s trademark, name and logo had expired, and acquired the rights. Justin Mistovich, Ron Mistovich and James Berry today operate www.sheetandtube.com, which sells consumer goods featuring the historic company logo and encourages visitors to add to a community historical record.

Their aim is to keep the memory of the steel era alive and contribute to the local economy.

“What have we learned over the past decades? Economics can crush a town, but can’t kill the spirit of its people. Youngstown survived. Hardened, wizened, smaller, but the blue-collar grit and determination, the hometown pride and humbleness could not be quieted. In this spirit, we bring back The Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company,” reads a blog post on the website.

Eventually, the company leaders’ goal is to set up shop in the city and manufacture metal products and branded apparel there. For now, they’re starting small with an online shop where visitors can purchase items such as T-shirts, tote bags and mugs emblazoned with the black and rusty-orange S&T logo.

Once the company turns a profit, the plan is to pour some of those funds back into the community with donations to local organizations dedicated to economic revitalization.

For its founders, the project is personal.

Justin Mistovich, 35, a surgeon who now lives in Cleveland, recalls growing up in the Youngstown area in the years after the steel industry’s collapse. The family connection to S&T is ingrained in him; one grandfather worked in the mail room at company headquarters; his father and uncle worked at the mills for a time; and his other grandfather owned a bar across the street from one of the plants.

“The whole community was kind of united around the industry,” he said. “We decided this would be an easy way to try to keep some of this stuff alive.”

In addition to the Sheet & Tube website, the group also acquired rights to the names of other shuttered Youngstown staples, such as Strouss’, the downtown department store he remembers visiting as a child. Visitors to the Sheet & Tube website will find links to affiliated brands, including Strouss’, the Stambaugh-Thompson Online Hardware Store and the Youngstown Club.

The company has received orders from all over the country, Justin Mistovich said, and sometimes customers will share stories of why they left the area and comment on their pride in being from Youngstown.

That’s just the kind of response that Sheet & Tube wants.

“I think any time you have a community that’s been besieged by such bad luck and economic decimation, it’s important to have a sense of pride for what we were,” he said.

“Youngstown is unlike anywhere else in the country. ... I think this kind of captures that spirit of Youngstown, and I think it’s a great way to say, ‘Hey, we’re from here.’”

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