Barry Zekelman has dominated headlines for his influential role in the steel industry. This Canadian business tycoon serves as the CEO and Chairman of Zekelman Industries, the largest independent steel pipe and tube manufacturer in North America. While some are familiar with his prominence in the business world, few fully appreciate the depth of his character and the extent of his achievements. In this article, we’ll reveal ten facts about Barry Zekelman that you likely didn’t know.

1. He Inherited the Family Business at a Young Age

Barry Zekelman became a powerhouse in the steel industry at a very young age. He inherited Atlas Tube, the family’s steel business, at just 19 after his father passed away. Taking over a company at such an early age is a daunting task for anyone, but Zekelman embraced the challenge and propelled the business to new heights.

Today Atlas Tube is part of Zekelman Industries, an industry giant when it comes to the production of steel pipes and tubes. Zekelman successfully guided the business through a major industry downturn in the 1980s and made it thrive.

2. He is an Advocate for Manufacturing in North America

Devoted to supporting local industry, Zekelman is an exceptional advocate for U.S. and Canadian manufacturing. He believes in the importance of producing goods within the continent and preserving manufacturing jobs. This belief is reflected in his “Zekelman Standard” philosophy, which values safety, quality, and compliance above all.

Zekelman plays a crucial role in lobbying for policies that benefit the manufacturing sector. He has been a vocal supporter of protective tariffs and other measures intended to strengthen manufacturing industries in North America.

3. Zekelman is a Generous Philanthropist

Beyond being a successful business magnate, Zekelman is also recognized for his philanthropic endeavors. He and his wife, Stephanie, established the Barry and Stephanie Zekelman Foundation, which supports various charitable causes across Canada and the U.S.

Through their foundation, the Zekelmans have donated millions to health care, education, and cultural institutions. They’ve also made substantial contributions towards assisting disadvantaged children and promoting mental health awareness.

4. He is Involved In Sports

Outside of business, Zekelmans have a keen interest in sports. He used to be a part-owner of the Windsor Spitfires, a team in the Ontario Hockey League. His love for sports also extends to golf, and he is a member of several prestigious golf clubs.

In 2012, Zekelman sponsored a major professional golf tournament, The Zekelman Windsor Championship, part of the PGA Tour Canada. It is part of his efforts to give back to his community and support local development.

5. His Rebranding Approach Transformed the Industry

Following the merger of Atlas Tube, Wheatland Tube, Sharon Tube, Seminole Tube, and Picoma, Zekelman pioneered an effective rebranding strategy. Instead of operating under separate brand identities, Zekelman rebranded them all under the Zekelman Industries umbrella.

This consolidation strategy was a huge success and has since become a case study for effective business strategy in the manufacturing industry. It not only unified the companies but also created a powerful brand equity for Zekelman Industries.

6. He is a Family Man

Despite his busy schedule, Zekelman always takes time for his family. He often credits his family as his primary source of motivation and strength. The businessman has three children with Stephanie, his wife of more than three decades.

The Zekelmans strive to ensure their children understand the value of hard work, charity, and integrity. The upbringing they provide is grounded in the same principles that have guided Zekelman throughout his successful career.

7. Known for Innovation

Zekelman is not only renowned for his business acumen, but also for his innovative mindset. Recognizing the potential of digital transformation in the manufacturing industry, Barry pushed for the launch of an e-commerce platform for Zekelman Industries.

This move revolutionized the way steel products are sold and bought, bargaining greater accessibility and ease of transaction for customers. This innovative approach earned him the title of an industry game-changer.

8. He Co-Founded Startups

Zekelman’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to invest in several startups as well. Alongside his sons, he co-founded Job Hawk, an employment platform connecting job seekers with manufacturers.

Job Hawk resonates with Zekelman’s belief in fostering domestic job opportunities and supporting local economies. The platform fills a critical need in modern day job hunting, while supporting the values that he holds dear.

9. He is Committed to Sustainability

Fulfilling his social and environmental responsibilities, Zekelman established sustainability as a cornerstone of his companies. Zekelman Industries operates with an emphasis on reducing environmental impact through various initiatives, such as waste reduction and energy efficiency.

The extensive recycling programs and green manufacturing processes at Zekelman Industries are testament to his sincere commitment to sustainability and his vision for a cleaner environment.

10. Behind the Anticipated IPO

In 2018, Zekelman Industries filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO), causing a stir in the business world. This move was intended to reduce debt and provide funds for strategic initiatives.

However, in a surprising turn, Zekelman put the IPO on hold, citing unfavorable market conditions. Despite this, the anticipation of Zekelman going public continues to be a hot topic in global business circles.

To learn more about Barry Zekelman, visit Zekelman Industries at www.zekelman.com and Barry and Stephanie Zekelman Foundation at www.zekelmanfoundation.com