By: Tami Scott
When Brenda Westcott was a young girl, she was engaged in her father’s business — but only after hours. And only for recreational purposes. Once the doors were closed for the day, she’d enjoy the space as her very own indoor skate park. Aside from her time zipping around the facility on four wheels, her interest was nil. Little did she know that as an adult, her father’s business would become her passion, her purpose, and eventually her own — just as it was her dad’s during his prime.
Entrepreneur Donald Westcott founded Westcott Steel Co., now a second-generation steel fabrication company, almost 50 years ago in Sherburne, NY, where it still produces today. His daughter joined him in 1988.
“After I graduated high school and I was not ready to go to college, my father insisted I come work with him,” she said. “This was the best decision I have ever made.”
Just nine people (including Westcott) comprised the business then; she was charged with accounting.
“The first task I tackled was to computerize all bookkeeping,
sales, and inventory processes in the business,” she said.
From there, Westcott focused on expanding her knowledge and hands-on experience about steel products, welding procedures, and job estimation within the company.
“It was challenging being a woman in a man’s world at the time, but as I continued to learn, our customers came to respect my knowledge regardless of my gender.”
Over the years, the Westcott family business evolved from being a manufacturer of metal products such as wood stoves and garbage dumpsters to the fabrication and erection of grandstand/bleachers and metal buildings throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and other northeastern states.
In 1991, the company began stocking steel, stainless, and aluminum products to distribute to its wide and varied customer base of contractors, agri-businesses, maintenance departments, municipalities, aggregate industries, other welder/fabricators, and the general public.
Two years later, the father/daughter duo developed a succession plan for Donald’s retirement and for Brenda’s desire to continue the family tradition of working with steel but not managing field erection crews. Hence, the creation of Steel Sales, Inc., designed to focus strictly on distribution and custom fabrication of metal in-house only.
“From the inception of Steel Sales, Inc., it was known between my father and me [that] the business would become fully owned and operated by me within 10 years,” Westcott said. “By January 2001, my father had stopped all daily involvement in Steel Sales; his focus and desire were solely on his lease/build company.”
Operating as a WBE/DBE Company
A year after acquiring Steel Sales, Inc., in 2002, the New York State Department of Economic Development granted Steel Sales, Inc. certification as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE). In 2015, the New York State Department of Transportation certified the business as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE).
Before, during, and since these designations, Westcott has grown the business and made significant changes. She has expanded the product line to include more than two million pounds of steel, stainless, and aluminum in a variety of structural shapes, pipe/tube, sheets, and plates in stock.
Its fleet of trucks and outside sales team serves 18 surrounding counties. Its estimating team, in addition to its inside sales team, provides takeoff services for larger jobs and in-house AutoCAD and SolidWorks shop approval drawings.
The company has a little more than doubled in size, from employing just 14 people in 2001 to a current number of 30. Its gross sales have quadrupled in the last 10 years.
Though Donald has long since retired, his daughter, mindful of the insight he gained and shared, implemented his savvy business spirit.
“My father taught me to work hard, always keep a “never give up” attitude, and be willing to change based on the needs of the customers you serve,” Westcott said. “I believe our reason for success and what sets us apart from our competition is staying focused on customer service. Our experienced, hardworking team makes this their No. 1 priority every day regardless of the size of the customer.”
Due to the company’s diversified customer base, it offers a unique combination of fabrication abilities and quality products. Specifically, it’s equipped to shear ½” x 12’ mild steel, saw up to 18” x 20”, roll ½” x 8’ mild steel, and bend ½” x 12’ mild steel. It also offers a variety of punching, drilling, milling, and welding services — by certified welders — of all metals, along with pipe threading for ½” to 4” pipe and rebar bending from ⅜” up to 1 ½” diameter. The company also has a High Definition CNC plasma table 8’ x 24’ with the latest True Hole technology.
Customers can also count on Steel Sales, Inc as an authorized Wearparts center for Hardox™, a premium wear plate; a distributor of ADS™/Hancor™ plastic culvert pipe, drainage pipe, sewer pipe, stabilization fabric, and septic changers; CONTECH™ metal culvert pipe, multi-plate pipe arches, and aluminum box culvert; and TENCO™ plow parts. It also offers metal roofing/siding from ABC™ with a large choice of colors and grades, cut to an exact, customized length.
In 2010, it introduced a product line including sander chains, tire chains, snowplow blades, snow plow wear parts, and construction edges. The sander chains are fabricated at the Sherburne facility with one-week maximum lead times.
Its Mission is Simple
Westcott describes the Steel Sales, Inc. mission as simple: “Build and Maintain Long-Term Relationships with Our Customers.” This is achieved through trained, motivated, and friendly staff members who are dedicated to serving the company’s entire customer base.
“Every day is a challenge and no two days are the same, which is what I enjoy,” she said. “I intend to continue our constant improvements and continue to answer our customers’ needs with my outstanding team, which is my family, not just employees, for many years to come. We are all passionate about serving those who keep us going.”