Sometimes, all it takes is a little encouragement, a little persistence and a belief in yourself to accomplish great things.
Alro Steel’s origin, and Al Glick’s story in manufacturing, can be traced back to 1916 when Al’s father Louis Glick and his family arrived in Jackson and started a scrap metal business, Glick Iron & Metal.
At the end of World War II, unsure of what his path might be but still dreaming of becoming a sportswriter rather than a manufacturer, Al was offered a chance by his older brother Robert, the “Ro” in Alro Steel, and a questioning quip that changed his life — Al, what have you got to lose?
With Robert’s guidance and support, Al became an asset to manufacturers struggling to purchase materials due to the steel shortage following the war. Al networked every day to match up companies in need with materials in excess. He quickly became the region’s one-stop-shop for quick resource solutions.
Seventy years later, the legacy of Al Glick and Alro Steel continues to push Michigan forward. Today, Alro distributes metals, industrial supplies and plastics, cut-to-size with next day delivery to over 25,000 customers in North America. The metal inventory includes aluminum, alloys, carbon steel, cast iron, stainless steel, tool steel, brass, bronze, copper and more.
Now 92, Al is looking forward to retiring.
“June 1, 2048. That’s our 100-year anniversary and I’m thinking that’s a good time to step aside; 30 years from now and all of Michigan is invited,” says Glick, a wry smile on his face as he thinks 30 years down the road. “Being here, getting up each day to work with these people — it just makes me happy. Why walk away when you still love what you do?”
Al’s commitment to people runs deep and is evident in every aspect of his business.
“It comes down to people and Al has always done right by them,” says David Schmidt, chief operating officer for Alro Steel. “He’s committed to them. Without the people we have nothing — Al understands that and that way of thinking flows down to how we all perform at Alro.”
Alro Steel began with family — that conversation between Al and Robert when a little excess steel changed their lives — and it continues because of family.
“It’s still funny, growing up, Al Glick was just ‘dad’ to me,” says Randy Glick, executive vice president at Alro Steel. “It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized my dad is just one of the single coolest people you’re ever going to meet in this business.”
Remembering back to the days when, at five or six years old, he’d spend Saturday mornings at work with his father, Randy continues, “Working with your father is an interesting dynamic whether you are five, 15 or 35. He taught me to love manufacturing and to love helping people, but more than that it was the life lessons learned along the way — honesty, integrity, loyalty. That’s the legacy of my dad.”
That legacy continues and may be never-ending for the weight the Glick name carries across Michigan.
Although Al never played football, he gained a passion for the sport and the teamwork required to perform at a high level, saying “football is a great learning experience for life. You learn about teamwork, communications, working together, and you build life-long friends out of football.”
In 2018, Al added to the family tradition of giving back to youth and sports, the Al Glick Youth Football Camp. The one-day camp brought together over 250 children from the Jackson, Michigan community to work with local coaches as well as college players and coaches.
Beyond the gridiron, the family foundations are many — Al Glick Foundation, Alro Steel Foundation, Louis Glick Memorial and Charitable Trust — and each works to make an impact, focusing on supporting and enhancing youth programs, helping the underprivileged, improving children’s health, and assisting with manufacturing education and training.
“The way I treat people is a byproduct of how I was brought up,” admits Glick. “The team here, my family, the Jackson community and all the people I’ve met along the way. They are what made all of this possible. God’s got me on overtime and now it’s about giving back, lifting people up and saying thank you.”
The hardest worker you’ll ever meet, at 92 Al’s finally cut back to 12-hour work days — part-time as he calls it — and he continues to put forth the effort to change lives because, at the end of the day, it’s all about a person’s willingness to try.
“He taught me early on that the simplest way to avoid mistakes is to never try; but if you never try you’ll never grow,” recalls Randy. “Think of all the ways Michigan is better because one man with a little leftover steel from the war took a chance and was willing to try. Our state would be different without Al Glick.”