By Dick Maggiore and Mark Vandegrift

Midwest Industrial Supply has Growth Success Under Control

Midwest Industrial Supply has Growth, Success Under Control

Local family-owned company does its part to strengthen Canton, Stark County.

Step into the offices of Midwest Industrial Supply — 1101 3rd St. S.E. in Canton — and signs of success are readily apparent.

The reception area features dozens of the company's local, regional and national honors, and several of its more than 125 trademarks and patents.

Midwest is the leading provider of regulatory-compliant, environmentally safe solutions to industries whose success depends on controlling dust, friction, ice or unstable soil.

The company engineers, manufactures and delivers solutions around the world
to clients in quarry, mining, construction, steel, rail, remote runway, oil and gas, and more applications.

Midwest was included in Inc. magazine's annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S. seven out of the past 13 years. It was recognized as a NorthCoast 99 company in 2018 as one of the top workplaces in Northeast Ohio.

Revenues will top $32 million at the end the fiscal year in March. The company employs 110 people.

Seems everything is under control.

CEO Bob Vitale likely didn't see things coming together quite like this when he founded the company in 1975.

Bob was then a partner in an ice cream parlor, but took a chance opening his
own business.

"Things weren't looking good," Bob said. "Interest rates were at 20 percent, inflation was in double digits and there were long lines at the gas stations because of the oil embargo."

So, Bob started a business that involved the "fuel of the future" — coal.

Midwest's first product was a coal conveyor belt anti-icing product. Customers were coal mines, power plants and steel mills.

"We learned we needed a product that didn't rely on cold weather," Bob said.
Soil Sement was that product. It remains a solid seller today.

Midwest has since added dozens of products, industries and geographies to
its portfolio.

"Our goal is to have a positive impact on customers' total operating costs," Bob said. "We improve their operations and environmental compliance. We add value."

Bob's son, Steve, who is president, joined the company in 2001. He'd been in San Francisco gaining experience with his own dot-com company and in investment banking.

"I enjoyed the business side, but I was done watching," Steve said. "I wanted to practice what I'd learned within the family business."

Bob and Steve assembled a strong management team. New positions include chief financial officer, chief operating officer, vice president of manufacturing, vice president of human resources and safety, and director of product development and technology.

"We're transitioning for our next period of growth," Bob said.

Through its Adventure 2025 program, Midwest is calling on the entire team to achieve its next growth goal — doubling revenues by 2025.

Dust control represents about 80 percent of Midwest's business. Midwest has it down to a science.

"We offer the next-gen, science-based solution," Steve said. "Now, more than ever, we can quantify and qualify what we do."

No one else does it quite like Midwest.

"Thousands of companies sell products," Bob said. "We sell the full solution from start to finish. We go after the large, complex situations."

Midwest aims to be a trusted advisor.

"We're looking for customers we can work with for the rest of their lives," Bob said.

Ninety-nine percent of Midwest's business is in North America, but it's completed projects in Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Peru, Chile, Italy and Spain. International business will become more of a focus.

Midwest's customers range from wineries to the U.S. Department of Defense to U.S. Steel.

Safety is also important. Midwest's OSHA recordable rate is 0.7, compared to the industry average of 2.8.

Locally, Midwest supports the Alzheimer's Association, ArtsinStark, Canton Regional Chamber, Centennial Plaza, Community Betterment, Pathway Caring for Children, Refuge of Hope, Stark Economic Development Board, Strengthening Stark, a STEM program for girls, United Way, and dozens more community initiatives.

"We do our part to strengthen Stark, and enhance the strength of the greater Stark-Summit Metroplex," Bob said. "If we're to grow our business, we need to
be able to find the right people to work for us locally."

Midwest does what it can to reduce Stark County's brain drain.

"We want to make this region an attractive community people want to come to,"
Steve said.

An important element of that is enlarging its local footprint.

"We're looking to expand our facility another 40,000 to 50,000 square feet," Steve said. "We're working with local resources to make that happen."

As long as the Vitale's have a say in it, Midwest — and Stark County — will keep getting stronger at a rapid pace.