When Alcoa closed it’s Warren plant, Mike Palumbo, who was a maintenance manager, had opportunities to work at other Alcoa plants.
“I turned them all down,” said Palumbo, of Hartford, formerly of Brookfield. “I told my wife, ‘I’m going to take some money out of the bank, buy me a one-ton pickup, take in a couple of my maintenance guys.’”
He concluded that “there was no skill set in the area to actually do repairs on extrusion processes,” so Palumbo and his wife, Lisa, created L&M Diversified LLC, a Twinsburg-based company that repairs, installs, rebuilds and upgrades “any aspect of any type of machinery.” That was in 2008.
It was a natural progression to move from repairing and installing metals processing equipment to buying some and using it. In February 2016, the Palumbos created L&M Processing LLC. Serving primarily the Cleveland market from Twinsburg, Palumbo wanted to reach into the Pittsburgh market and do more in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys. The Palumbos bought the former Western Reserve Metals building at 7775 Addison Road, overlooking Route 82, and moved in in November 2017.
The 23,000-square-foot building houses a 72-inch cut-to-length line, a machine that takes metal coils, levels them to remove the coil factor, and cuts them to specific widths and lengths. L&M also has a metal shearing line, and Palumbo said he plans to add a 60-inch cut-to-length line.
Working primarily with carbon and stainless steel and aluminum, L&M Processing also has done some work with copper.
Palumbo said, in most cases, he does not know the end product the metal pieces will be used for, but he knows some have gone into snow plows, snow blowers and trailer parts.
“I’m truly after the cut-to-length work in this area,” he said. “There’s a lot of bridge companies in Pittsburgh, and they use a lot of steel.”
He also wants to serve local companies and, through L&M Diversified, has relationships with Specialty Strip and Oscillating in Masury and Colonial Metals in Hermitage.
“I’m not here to step on anybody’s toes,” Palumbo said. “I want to work with local business. We need jobs in this area and everybody knows it, so I’m going to do my share to try to make that work.”
Currently two are employed in the shop at the Masury plant and one in the office.
This is an area that is “thirsty” for jobs, Palumbo said, noting he was nearly overwhelmed with applicants when he advertised for workers.
“This area, it was steel-driven for a lot of years,” he said. “The work ethic and knowledge of the steel industry is a lot easier to find here. Naturally, there’s issues, no matter where you go today, with drugs and everything. It’s trying to find good employees.”
Palumbo, who had done repairs for Western Reserve Metals, has plans to add more equipment and is talking about expanding the building to about 40,000 square feet.
With his son, Matt, and daughter, Mary Shockley, working for him, L&M is truly a family business. Palumbo wants that close relationship to include his employees.
“I take a lot of pride in providing for employees and trying to help as many people as I possibly can,” Palumbo said. “It was always a goal of mine to get something here.”