Doug Carpenter and Jim Stavis
Doug Carpenter has been in the steel business for over 30 years now and has seen some dramatic changes throughout that period of time. There have been many steel companies and customers come and go but Doug learned that in order to survive required a keen sense of understanding customer needs.
Jim Stavis was one of his customers back in the seventies. He owned a company for 17 years that manufactured automotive products that was based in the L.A. area. Doug Carpenter had been a dependable vendor and friend to Jim Stavis’ company for many years. Then in 1988 at a fateful lunch, the two entrepreneurs decided to start their own steel company and name it Paragon Steel.
Jim Stavis was in the process of selling his interest in his company and Doug Carpenter was trying to raise capital so he could start his own venture. Together, the two developed a business plan which would focus on the customer service side of steel distribution.
As a former steel user, Jim Stavis understood the needs of the steel buyer and what had been lacking in the marketplace. The two partners formulated a strategy where the customer was king and their company, Paragon Steel, would service their needs at all costs. They would become a single source of all types of steel, aluminum and stainless products to a variety of customers located in Southern California.
Through the years, other steel distributors began to follow the blueprint that Stavis and Carpenter had developed when they began their operation: that there was money to be made in satisfying customer needs. Soon some of the larger companies were changing their cultures to appeal to this end.
In response, Paragon Steel had to change its operation to expand the customer service model. Stavis and Carpenter had found that many customers were now outsourcing parts of their operation either overseas or to vendors who could provide services better than themselves. Paragon Steel expanded its operation to include an entire division dedicated to fabrication and processing of a full range of steel products. They hired steel sales representatives with fabrication experience, project managers, estimators, detailers and employed a workforce that could fulfill the changing customer requirements. In order not to dilute their existing base, it was critical that Paragon Steel continue to maintain a strong distribution presence since that was the foundation of the company.
Today, Paragon Steel truly has two faces: one dedicated to the commodity side of the business, providing standard steel products and the other which provides customized products specific to customer requirements. What characterizes both segments is the fundamental tenant of servicing customer needs at the highest level.