Talking Small Biz: He's forging ahead as a global matchmaker

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Steve Weinberg , of National Foundry Products, holds a 1920s-era sand-casting wood pattern used to make a cap for a 30-ton electric crane for a Philadelphia-based company.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Steve Weinberg , of National Foundry Products, holds a 1920s-era sand-casting wood pattern used to make a cap for a 30-ton electric crane for a Philadelphia-based company.
Posted: January 22, 2013

S TEPHEN J. WEINBERG, 52, of West Mount Airy, is president of National Foundry Products, a company that serves as sales representative for overseas foundries and forging plants. He also has been a leader in fostering creation of B Corporations, which use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

Q: Tell me about your business.

A: Our clients are manufacturers in the metals industry and are looking for suppliers in North America. It's like arranging corporate marriages and keeping them strong. We're manufacturers' reps, and what we do well is anticipate the needs of people we represent and their customers.

Q: Whom do you represent?

A: I work with about 10 forgers and foundries. Several are in India and make specialty plumbing fittings, size-reduction equipment parts and components for air-conditioning compressors. I work with a company in Mexico that makes brass forgings.

Q: So how do you make money?

A: We get paid a commission, usually 1 to 2 percent, on every sale between the manufacturer and the customer, less the freight cost.

Q: How many employees do you have?

A: Right now, just two. We also work with two independent subagents.

Q: Sounds like a challenging environment right now.

A: Customers think they can save money by doing it on the Internet. For us, it's a value-added propositon. We help customers understand that working with us actually saves money because we provide time-consuming services like tracking shipments.

Q: What's up with B Corps?

A: We're a founding B Corporation, or for-benefit company. The idea is that you can do more than just create jobs and make money, that you can have a broader impact with other stakeholders, your community and the environment.

Q: So it's not just a feel-good exercise.

A: Right. They're legal entities in Pennsylvania. I use carbon offsets for travel and 100 percent renewable energy. One key for us is banking. I want my money to have leverage, so I'm moving it [from Bank of America] to Valley Green Bank, which is local and lends here.

Q: You were also among a small number of businesspeople here who signed a letter that the group Business for Shared Prosperity sent to Congress last month asking not to extend the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000.

A: There's too much weight to the idea that higher taxes on high-income individuals hurt our economy. It feels like a convenient way not to take shared responsibility. If I have to pay an extra $4,000 in taxes, am I not going to hire people if my business needs it? What kind of businesspeople do that?


Email: hinkelm@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-2656

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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