by Michelle Simmons
As small-business owners continue to hunker down and await better economic forecasts before injecting cash into their companies, Drew Greenblatt ’88 is forging ahead.
An article in the October issue of The Atlantic titled “The Bright Side” features his manufacturing firm, Marlin Steel Wire Products, as an example of how industry can reinvigorate the economy through a blend of 21st-century technology and old-fashioned investment in workers.
“Small businesses have become a bellwether for the condition of the American economy,” writes author Megan McArdle, business and economics editor for The Atlantic. “America truly could not survive without operations like Marlin Steel Products.”
Greenblatt’s passion for rebuilding America’s manufacturing base was evident from the day he bought Marlin Steel 12 years ago. The company, based in Brooklyn at the time, was using equipment from the 1950s and minimum-wage employees to make wire baskets for bagels.
Greenblatt moved operations to Baltimore, updated the equipment and sought out global markets. Today, the cutting-edge manufacturer crafts custom-steel products for clients such as Toyota and Boeing and employs highly skilled—and highly educated—technicians to operate its robotic machinery and export to more than 30 countries.
“I’m paying my employees $15 to $25 per hour,” he says. “We need people who can read calipers, who know what a radius is, who can read a blueprint.”
In 2007, Marlin Steel was named Baltimore’s Regional Employer of the Year. The company saw its most profitable year to date in 2009, and Greenblatt is making room for two new engineers and more machinery in 2010.
In a global economy where currency manipulation and trade imbalance is too often the norm, Greenblatt focuses on ingenuity and quality. “I can’t in general offer prices lower than Chinese manufacturers. The only way I can prevail and pay my employees well is by offering the best delivery and highest quality in the industry,” he explains. “So you need the technology. If it’s my guys operating robots, they’re much more productive in ways the Chinese can’t touch.”
The former political-science major credits Dickinson not only for instilling in him a global outlook, but with teaching the writing skills he needed to compete in a tight marketplace. “Writing is critical for what I do, in communicating with clients, with employees,” he says. “Talking in a persuasive manner is intrinsic to my success.”
Published October 12, 2010