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Jim Kanicki of Arthur Louis Steel Company: From NFL Football to Steel Manufacturing


Jim Kanicki knows a thing or two about tough competition. A native of Michigan, the 270-pound Kanicki spent nine years in the trenches as a defensive tackle in the National Football League for the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants. He was a member of the 1964 Browns team that won the NFL championship, and was named one of the 100 greatest players in Browns history.

When it was time for a second career, it was not surprising that the Michigan State University product looked at manufacturing, since his father had worked at a foundry in Saginaw, Michigan. The younger Kanicki went to work for the Arthur Louis Steel Company, and since 1985, he has owned the company, which is based in Ashtabula, Ohio, a city on the shore of Lake Erie, east of Cleveland. The building materials manufacturing firm was founded in the 1940s and has several dozen employees.

In effect, Kanicki traded the fierce of competition of NFL action for the intense, global competition inherent in manufacturing. The Arthur Louis Steel Company has served customers in 42 states and 17 countries.

One of their specialties is structural steel fabrication for industrial facilities up to 2,000 tons, with column lengths up to 95 feet. Another is fabrication of steel platforms, stairs, ladders, handrails, and safety gates. Others include large-dimension bents for rigging and lifting operations. The company has a design-engineer-build division for projects such as warehouses, office buildings, and equipment support structures.

A focus on product quality and meeting deadlines has led to growth for the business. The Ashtabula plant expanded as much as possible, and in 1998, the company began operations at a second plant in nearby Geneva, Ohio. Thanks to a 2013 grant from the State of Ohio and a matching investment by Arthur Louis Steel, a brownfield area adjacent to the Geneva plant will undergo soil cleanup, allowing further expansion and the creation of more jobs. The estimated cost of the project is $388,000.

The company remains a family-owned business, and Kanicki has found manufacturing to be a fulfilling and rewarding profession.