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Stromberg Metal Works, Inc.

stromberglogo.jpg At this cutting-edge sheet metal contractor, workers have a voice in the decision-making process and a financial stake in the business.

In Partnership With: SMWIA

Empowering workers builds a reputation for success

At a Glance

Founded in 1940, Stromberg Metal Works is one of the largest sheet metal contractors on the East Coast. Some of the firm's prominent contracts in the Washington Metro Area include Reagan Washington National Airport, the National Archives, the National Institutes of Health, and the Verizon Center.

Beltsville, MD


Sheet Metal

Union Employees
400 sheet metal workers

Total Employees

Annual Revenues
$49.4 million

6 sheet metal shops in MD, NC, and VA, with 3 satellite offices.

Several major commercial and government contracts per year

Stromberg Metal Works has a history of respecting workers' rights that dates back to the company's origins in 1940. Supporting the union at the company he founded was only natural for Paul Stromberg, who rose through the industry ranks as a union sheet metal worker. Today, the company is built on the strength of its close relationship with its workers and their unions, Locals 5 and 100 of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA). 

CEO Bob Gawne views the relationship with the SMWIA as simply a sound business strategy. As Gawne explains, "With a union you have better training, structures, order in place, [and] retirement security." This strategic alliance has certainly paid off as the company is one of the largest East Coast sheet metal contractors. Stromberg has installed sheet metal at highly-trafficked Washington Metro Area landmarks and buildings including Reagan Washington National Airport, the U.S. National Archives, the National Institutes of Health, the Verizon Center, and the new Nationals Stadium.

Lester Wicklien, a 44-year-old sheet metal journeyman at Stromberg, attests to the benefits of the company and the union members working together. He believes such collaboration has made Stromberg one of the most advanced sheet metal shops in the region. In December 2002, Stromberg and the union instituted an in-house welding certification program, one of the first sheet metal companies to do so. By adding several Certified Welding Instructors to its staff, Stromberg trains its workers at the sheet metal shop instead of sending them to a separate facility for certification. Streamlining this process allows Stromberg to certify welders more quickly, making the company more responsive to its customers' needs.

Empowerment runs throughout the labor-management model at Stromberg. As an employee-owned company, Stromberg workers have a financial stake in the success of the business. The workers also have meaningful input on health and safety matters, a critical issue in the construction industry. In 1995, Stromberg and SMWIA devised an innovative and effective safety program that lowered injury rates and workers compensation claims at the company. The joint safety initiative received praise from President Clinton when he personally visited the sheet metal shop. Stromberg's safety program also became the model for Occupational Safety and Health Administration reforms.

Working with the union and its workers gives Stromberg a competitive business edge. From its unique welding certification program to its safety initiatives, Stromberg stands out as a leader in the sheet metal industry and in developing sound labor-management practices.

Selection Criteria

> Free and fair chance to form a union

> Collaborating as equal partners with workers and their unions to craft innovative strategies on compensation, performance, and productivity to meet business goals and address challenges

> Protecting workers' safety and health

> Providing sustainable wages or progressive increases and worker-friendly benefits

> Creating new jobs and implementing employee retention strategies

> Offering training and professional development opportunities