NEW YORK – Part of a fourth-generation steel family and the CEO and President of Majestic Steel, the company his father founded in 1979, Todd Leebow embraces his product as both a national – and personal – calling. Today, he’s continuing steel’s legacy of innovation in a number of ways, including as a material primed for the country’s leading artists and designers. Ahead of Americana Week, when a Majestic Flag will be on display at Sotheby’s New York, we spoke with Leebow about the creative potential of steel.
TODD LEEBOW. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MAJESTIC STEEL.
Majestic Steel, which was started by your father, carries on the legacy of quality American steel. Why do you feel heritage remains so important to your brand?
If you think about how this country was built, it was built on steel. There’s a lot of history in our industry, and as a company, Majestic is about heritage. We look to continue that legacy and carry the industry forward into the next generation. Majestic has reinvested into technology, brought youth into the organization and really created a brand in steel. Millennials want to see how things are made and want to be a part of making things. I think the steel industry could help bring that to the forefront again.
How do you see steel’s potential as a creative product?
There are no limitations with steel. As long as we know the application, we can figure out how to make the material work, whether it’s creating an art installation or collaborating with a designer or architect. Majestic uses steel for both its functional and aesthetic capabilities. Our idea is to create demand for the product by thinking of new ways to use it artistically. Everywhere I go I look for steel, or if I see another material I think, “Can steel replace this?”
A MAJESTIC FLAG IN STEEL ON STEEL. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MAJESTIC STEEL.
I read that Majestic Steel has commissioned pieces by artists, including Stephen Yusko, and started a program called the Majestic Steel Art Collection. Could you speak a bit about that program and your plans for working with contemporary artists and designers?
When we rebuilt our corporate headquarters in 2009, one of things we focused on was utilising our steel products, local contractors and American artists. Steel is everywhere in a construction project, but a lot of people don’t necessarily see it. We wanted to showcase our product in as many ways as possible throughout the space, whether it was exposing the decking and structural beams or commissioning artists like Stephen to do featured pieces with steel, like a reception desk or wall art. We also brought an artist on staff, Raymond Bugelski, who worked on the Majestic Flags. This is a launch pad to continue down the path of collaborating with more world-class artists and designers to innovate with steel like no one has before. Ultimately, we’d love to create a suite of Majestic Steel products that are contemporary, unique, artistic and design-centric.
What inspired you to begin the Majestic Flags project?
Because of what America was going through in terms of the recession, we wanted to create a piece that represents pride in our country. Steel is the backbone of the industrial world and we’re an American company, so it also shows support for American jobs and businesses.
Looking forward, what is your vision for Majestic Steel?
As a company, we want to take steel into the next generation. It’s not only about innovating with a product, but innovating as an organization, utilizing technology as a differentiator, attracting youth to an industry that has been around a long time, creating a greater focus on American manufacturing and bringing a culture to steel that, right now, the industry doesn’t have. Steel, I think, has lacked brand recognition, and because of that its relevancy had kind of fallen by the wayside. We’re well positioned to be at the forefront of making steel relevant – and there’s a lot of opportunity.