Sabel Steel 166 Year History
When asked to comment on Sabel Steel’s 166th anniversary, the company’s current principal, Keith Sabel,
“Ours is a history of perseverance, risk and reward, feast and famine”
Founded in 1856
Founded in 1856 by Keith Sabel’s great-great-grandfather, the family brought all of their belongings from Louisville, Kentucky to the Montgomery, Alabama area. The senior Sabel, was a true entrepreneur, father of ten children who began his business by selling leather goods, trading furs, and cowhides. Leather was essential for farm implements and horse tack; the best entrepreneurial means of transportation and heavy work requirements of the time.
As the country became more industrialized scrap metal became a primary focus as the need for metal became prevalent, Sabel’s business moved in that direction. When Keith’s father and uncle came home from WW II, they continued to move towards metal being their primary focus and purchased their first car load of steel from US Steel’s Fairfield mill, always seeking new business opportunities. Their first experience was not up to their expectations as a bundle of newly manufactured steel “broke” when it was dropped during unloading.
Heading Into the Modern Age
By the mid 50’s they were dealing in Army and Navy surplus products and in the early 60’s opened their first Rebar fabricating shop. As their business in Montgomery, AL grew they opened a second location in Columbus, GA. This risky expansion had some success but was forced to close due to less than honest hired management.
No organization spanning 166 years of existence is without its risk-taking, experiences with failure, feast and
Sabel Steel was purchased from the family in 1987 in a leveraged buyout; one of many caught up in the industry consolidation at that time. Keith Sabel remained involved in running the business and in 2000 was able to buy back the company to remain the independent metal distribution company it is today.
In 1998, Sabel Steel became one of the earlier steel service centers to invest as an owner/member of the North American Steel Alliance. In 2009, Keith was elected to NASA’s Board of Directors and assumed the Chairmanship of the cooperative for 2013 and 2014. Keith has remained as board member from 2009 until 2021.
Sabel Steel Today
Today Sabel Steel operates out of six locations; a testimony to the families’ perseverance, adaptability, opportunism, and tremendous ability to build on the past while looking to the future. Speaking of the future, Keith is a 5th generation leader while his son Sean is being groomed to be the 6th generation to lead the business. Keith Sabel’s advice for anyone hoping to reach a similar 166 milestone, “Learn to put something away during times of feast, for the inevitable times of coming famine. Be open-minded, pick good people, be risk-takers – some ideas will be losers others winners.”
“Most important, treat everyone with respect – this is a repeat business and without dealing with customers, suppliers, and employees with respect, there is no business. How else do you survive if you don’t do that?”
Keith Sabel leaves us with these parting thoughts about Sabel’s strategic vision, “In the future, we will adapt to the marketplace and the latest innovations to stay at the highest level of service to all we come in contact
with, just as we have done for the last 166 years.”
What Makes Sabel Steel Different From Other Steel Distributors
One big factor that sets us apart from the rest is our dedication to consistent customer service. Our quality products, personal service, and competitive pricing is what has made Sabel Steel successful since 1856 and continues on today.
Sabel Steel stocks and processes steel products for various industries including construction, agriculture, oil, gas, mining, transportation, & paper mills. We strive to build a relationship that puts our customer’s needs first. It’s our belief that our customers should have their own personal contact whose responsibility is to ensure that the job is priced competitively, delivered on time, and correct in every sense of the word.
We operate out of 7 service center locations in Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. If you’re looking for a steel company that exceeds expectations and strives for excellence contact us HERE.