Jim Stori and Glenn Tabolt founded STS Steel in 1984. After graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Masters degree in structural engineering, Jim worked at Bethlehem Steel, Nash Steel, Phelps Steel and General Steel Fabricators in a variety of engineering, project management, and executive positions. Jim is a licensed professional engineer in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and was Chairman of the Board of Directors for AISC from 2003 to 2005.
Glenn started his career with Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel (PDM) in 1978 after graduating from Clarkson University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. While at PDM Glenn worked in general engineering, plant engineering and project management on several large bridges, pressure vessels and building projects. He earned his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh before joining Jim at General Steel Fabricators in 1982.
Glenn is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York and Connecticut. He is on the Board of Directors for AISC and is Chairman of the AISC Planning Committee for the annual North American Steel Construction Conference. Glenn serves on the AISC/Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) Joint Task Committee to prepare a quality certification standard for shop application of complex protective coating systems.
While at General Steel Fabricators Glenn and Jim developed a mutual respect for each other's complimentary capabilities. Friendly discussions outside of work about values and beliefs lead to more serious considerations of establishing a business that held integrity and quality paramount. While this was an exciting possibility, there were still many steps to be taken between after-work conversations and starting a fabrication company. Jim and Glenn were confident in their ability to engineer and manage projects but someone had to actually fabricate the work. Both men felt they were up for the challenge of trading suits and ties for coveralls.
The first few years were as exhilarating for the two founders as they were difficult. After an extensive search for a building they selected a 7000-square-foot warehouse in a tough section of Troy, NY. The price was right but there were some inconveniences, the biggest being a lack of running water. Frequent trips to a local automotive shop to make use of their indoor plumbing made the first priority of business rather obvious. The first employee of STS Steel was assigned the task of creating a hole in the concrete floor where the new bathroom would be installed. They found out later why he looked so natural swinging the heavy sledgehammer against the concrete floor: He was out on parole for assault. This was the first of many lessons in human resource management that wasn't learned in business school.
With some helpful advice from Lincoln Electric, STS acquired some used welding machines and began the process of setting up shop. Installing equipment and fabricating jobs kept Jim and Glenn busy during the day while accounting and estimating occupied their evenings. Meeting schedule commitments became a family affair when an early job required some long days. The men's wives brought dinner and the kids to the shop so the family could eat together, and then it was back to work. STS developed a niche fabricating challenging projects with complex drawings or difficult fabrication details that were passed over by the traditional beam and column shops. The company grew as their reputation for meeting commitments to schedule and quality became known to area contractors.
In 1989 having out grown their Troy plant they began a search for a new place to call home. After considering many options, they decided to move into a 62,000-square-foot heavy fabrication shop originally built in 1919 by American Locomotive Company (Alco) in Schenectady, NY. The building has three bays, high ceilings, overhead cranes with lifting capacities of 125 tons, numerous jib cranes, and, thankfully, running water. The massive structural frame and foundations and the heavy lifting capacity of the cranes were perfectly suited to the founders' vision for the future. Although structurally sound, the building needed some major upgrades. STS installed new roofing, constructed 5,000 square feet of office space, and covered the old glass windows with steel framing, insulation and siding to give the building a clean and updated look while allowing newly installed heaters to maintain a comfortable temperature for a growing work force.
Early projects in the new facility continued the tradition of performing complex work but on a much larger scale. STS was successful in fabricating large trusses for the front entrance to the Times Union Arena and the SUNY Albany Field House (SEFCU Arena). The heavy lifting capacity of the new shop also allowed STS to fabricate lock gates for the New York State canal system. The straightness and flatness tolerances required for proper field alignment of a lock gate are difficult to maintain, as the substantial amount of welding tends to distort the geometry. STS has shipped 56 lock gates since 1990; all on time, all with perfect field alignment. Expertise gained building lock gates to New York State DOT specifications translated into bridge building. STS fabricated their first plate girder bridge in 1992. Building simple bridges led to a valuable relationship with The Fort Miller Group whose pre-cast, pre-stressed bridge panels required assembled bridge girder frames made to exact tolerances. Their commitment to quality and schedule made STS an ideal supplier for their fast paced projects.
As projects increased in size and complexity, STS decided to pursue American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) quality certification. STS became certified for Complex Buildings in 1997 and Major Bridges in 1999. In 2000, after meeting the requirements for AISC's Fracture Critical quality certification, STS began fabrication of a 300-foot span truss bridge over the Hudson River in Riparius, NY for Tioga Construction. Lock gates and bridges also require complex coatings so in 2000 STS added AISC certification for Sophisticated Coatings and in 2001 built a 10,000-square-foot blasting and painting facility equipped with two 20 Ton cranes. In 2018 when first offered by AISC, STS became certified for Hydraulic Steel Structures.
The company has grown to over 60 employees. In keeping with their long history of valuing the people who helped with their successes, Jim and Glenn formed an employee stock ownership plan in 2009 to begin transferring their stock to employees. Jim and Glenn felt an ESOP offered the best choice to ensure continued success for many generations to come.