At the helm of a legendary sheet metal shop in Brooklyn, New York
Joel Fishkind prepares his sheet metal family business for a fourth act.
Few sheet metal shops can say they’ve been around for more than a century. In the heart of Brooklyn, New York, the secret to Standard Tinsmith and Roofer Supply’s 105-year-old longevity is family.
In 1914, Luis Goldberg opened Tinsmith in lower East Side Manhattan with a plan to sell quality sheet metal products to the city’s rapidly developing five boroughs. With business booming, Goldberg soon groomed his son-in-law, Sam Fishkind, to run the sheet metal shop in order to keep the company’s operations all in the family.
When Sam’s business partner eventually retired in the 1960s, his son and current Tinsmith president, Joel Fishkind, purchased a partnering stake into the company. Fifty years later, Joel is now readying his son Scott to take the reins of the family business and pave his own way forward.
Growing a sheet metal business
When it comes to the family business, Fishkind shares an uncomplicated approach that has sustained the company for many years.
“The good thing about selling steel is if you have a recession, which we had years ago, and you’re financed enough to get through it, which we are, nothing happens to the steel,” he says. “If you’re selling vegetables or fruit, stuff like that, and you don’t sell that in two or three days, you could be out of business. So as long as you have the finances to go through that year of bad recession, your steel is still sitting here good as new.”
In addition to Tinsmith’s wholesale of galvanized, aluminum and stainless steel products, the sheet metal shop recently added manufacturing spiral duct and flat oval duct to its operations under Scott’s leadership.
“When we started the spiral business, we were concerned about how we would get our distributorship out,” Fishkind says. “But it ended up that the steel we sell mostly goes to the HVAC industry. So we had built in customers.” Also, a more than established reputation that has enabled them to build a loyal customer base across the country.
“A lot of companies look at it as just ductwork,” says Scott. “To us it’s more than that,” like father, like son.
Do you know an Industry Icon or someone who should be considered for our series? Submit your nominations directly to the SNIPS Editor-in-Chief at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of SNIPS magazine.