Out of the Limelight Since 2009, He’s Back to Represent Steel King Industries
The King is back! Yes, for those of you relatively new to the material handling industry, there is a King – as in the Steel King “king.” And your chance to see him in person is coming up quickly – at ProMat, March 20-23 in Chicago.
Coincidentally, the King went into semi-retirement after the 2009 ProMat show, which, despite the Great Recession that struck the year before, attracted a record number of exhibitors and a large crowd of attendees.
The King took on his role in 1972 – two years after the launch of Steel King Industries. Only 51 years old, his reign over the industry took its toll on his body, relegating his duties to standing guard over the entrance to a Steel King warehouse in our headquarters city, and reminding the folks at Steel King to always live up to their name as kings of their material handling sector.
(Rumor sill has it that the King was last seen in public at a gas station in Kalamazoo, Michigan.)
So, we thought we’d check in with the King to find out what’s in store for him in Chicago and beyond.
Q – After all those years of solitude, what prompted you to pick up your sword and get back on your horse, so to speak?
A – “An old friend and I were chatting, and we got to talking about ProMat and what an important show that is for the material handling industry, and how much I missed it. People from the whole kingdom and beyond attend – it’s the place to be. She asked if I was going to be there, and I said, ‘Why not?’ While I was happy to guard our warehouse, I knew there’s a lot more I can give.”
Q – Any other reasons for resuming your public appearances?
A – “What’s a kingdom without a king? Our company is Steel King. Our top dealers are called Excaliburs. Heck, even our steel pallets are called KingLoad pallets. I know people view me as part of that ‘team’ and as a symbol of strength and industry leadership, so I wanted to proclaim that status load and clear.”
Q – I understand you weren’t very active the last 14 years. What did it take to get in shape so you could do what it takes at ProMat and elsewhere?
A – “Well, I wasn’t in terrible shape. I needed some crown work (the crown I wear on my head, not the ones on some of my teeth.) I also felt like I needed a good rejuvenation, so I went to a spa and got some great treatments and really good skin care. I now look and feel just like new. I appreciate the special care I will be getting on my ride to Chicago for ProMat.”
Q – Where can people find you at ProMat 2023?
A – “I’ll be overseeing my kingdom from on high – atop a Steel King racking system at our exhibit, which is Booth S1941 – in the middle of the south exhibit hall. It will be a great vantage point. I’m sorry that’s not the best spot for people interested in taking selfie photographs with me, but I’ve been in seclusion so long that I didn’t even know what a selfie was until last month.”
Q – Yes, “selfies” didn’t become a big thing until about 2012, which gets me thinking that you’ve missed a lot of other changes in the industry and in the world; correct?
A – Oh boy. Social media was all very, very new in 2009, and the technology solutions I expect to see at this year’s ProMat will likely be far more advanced than I saw there in 2009. But at the same time, people are still seeking solutions to streamline their supply chains. As I recall, some of the trendy topics in 2009 were automation, including automated case picking, automated, guided vehicles, and advanced conveyor technology. And you can’t forget about the tremendous impact of e-commerce on the material handling industry, and then the COVID pandemic’s impact on the supply chain. The Steel King folks I oversee have been super busy doing their part to keep the supply chain as strong as possible.”
Q – Any closing thoughts?
A – “I love my role. As the Mel Brooks saying goes: It’s good to be the king!”