Aluminum Celebrates Gene Irwins 50 Years in the Industry
September 4, 2009
Gene Irwin of United States Aluminum Corp. in Waxahachie, Texas.
is celebrating 50 years in the aluminum industry this weekbut
theres no retirement in the plans for him.
Irwin says he began his career as a draftsman for Amarlite Corp.
in 1959, adding, I found an advertisement for them and Ive
been in it ever since.
his beginnings preparing shop drawings for storefront products,
he later took on customer service and soon became a sales representative
for the South Central Region. He progressed steadily from that position
to become the vice president of Amarlite Corp., South Central Region,
in 1987. In 1989 Irwin became the national specifications manager,
during which time he designed and produced a new method to provide
architects and customers with product details and specifications
for use on computers. He continued to innovate in other roles, including
implementing a computerized business program called Material Replenishment
In 1994, Irwin began his employment with United States Aluminum
Corp. He worked in the customer service department and as an outside
sales representative, calling on existing customers and locating
prospective customers. He then took the position of EPG sales manger
and now works in the EPG estimating department.
There have been a lot of changes. Thirty years ago the way
aluminum was marketed was entirely different than what it is today,
Irwin says. Back then, manufacturers only sold to distributors;
those distributors then sold to the smaller glass shops in a particular
geographical area. Then over time
everybody started selling
to everybody, so it changed your whole way of selling. Before you
promoted the company and you serviced the distributors, but then
once you started selling to everyone
your sales have an entirely
The marketing today is different, Irwin adds. [Amarlite]
did a lot of architectural work where we would call on architects
and work with them developing specifications for particular projects
and educational-type things. As time changed again, the competitive
market made it more where you had to sell every job on an individual
job basis rather than selling the benefits of the company.
Irwin notes, The complex shapes that we have today couldnt
be extruded then, the technology wasnt there
a completely different product line todayI have some of the
old brochures from during those years and I show that to some of
the people today, he chuckles.
One thing that hasnt changed, exactly, is the cyclical nature
of this industry. Irwin notes that he hopes to continue at U.S.
Aluminum, his health and the economy permitting. On that note, he
admits he has seen tough times before.
Its a cyclical thing, it comes and goes, and some [cycles]
are better than others. Its a challenge to management to try
to make the adjustments, because you have to do that but yet still
maintain your position in the market, he says.
Irwins 50 years in the industry are hardly going unnoticed.
His colleagues at U.S. Aluminum treated him to a special lunchfollowed
by a surprise ceremony honoring his time in the industry.
They had my wife and three kids there, Irwin recalls.
When I went in I was kind of stunned at all these people so
they had me sit down in a chair at the front
and I glance
up and look and theres my family sitting there!
It was quite special, he adds.
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