Company puts old site to new use

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

Rob and Dave Slagel never planned to go into the recycling business.

No, they don't accept aluminum cans or old newspapers because the Slagels and their trio of homegrown Ironton companies are working on a much larger scale.

Continuing to come up with new and innovative ways to utilize the large steel shipping containers that many industries use to transport their products, the Slagels have now begun to "recycle" the former Ironton Steel Inc. building at 2841 S. Sixth St. to allow them room to focus on their newest venture.

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A subsidiary of the Slagels' Johnny on The Spot and Storage on The Spot company, their newest company DropBox Inc., recently began turning these giant metal boxes into turnstile, self-contained unit that can be utilized by industrial plants and companies for security checkpoints and a variety of other uses.

"These boxes are kind of a byproduct of the shipping industry. With this patented, we will be the only people in North America allowed to build turnstiles in all-enclosed shipping containers," Rob Slagel said of the 8-foot high by 8-foot wide buildings that can be either or 20 or 40-feet in length. "What is scrap to someone else can be usable."

Part of the increased demand has come from the fact that Homeland Security measures require river-bordering facilities to implement entrance and exit controls, something that the turnstiles are perfect for, Slagel said.

"Some of the biggest players in the construction market have called us about them," he said. "We are starting a major marketing campaign to continue to get the word out."

The office modification boxes sell for approximately $12,000 while the turnstiles top more than $50,000.

The push to expand is what necessitated them to move inside the former Ironton Steel building for the winter while attempting to fill enough orders to keep them busy for the next three months. Leasing it from owner Jeff Hood for now, the Slagels hope to make the stay a permanent thing if business is brisk enough.

While still too soon to think about job creation, Slagel said he is confident the company and the subcontractors used would have to grow if the demand for the product is high.

Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, helped the Slagels find the vacant building in Ironton.

"I truly feel that it is an excellent building, though it does need some facial work. I think Robert and Dave are building an excellent company and we are happy to help bring the two together," Dingus said. "… Things just came together. It was the right company, right building and right people."

The entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses like the Slagels' helped build Ironton's past and will integral to its future, he said.

"The history of Ironton was made from within. People do not come in from the outside," Dingus said. "It is nice to see the Slagel brothers taking an interest and growing here at home."