Kivort Steel continues to expand on family business

The crew at Kivort Steel in their warehouse. Kivort Steel continues to expand its steel distribution business in Waterford.PROVIDED PHOTO The crew at Kivort Steel in their warehouse. Kivort Steel continues to expand its steel distribution business in Waterford.

Gazette Reporter
WATERFORD — Kivort Steel, a multi-generational family business in Waterford, continues to grow upon its founder’s original vision and work ethic. Business is booming at the metal distribution center, which
just significantly expanded its warehouse storage capacity and renovated its office spaces in projects that cost more than $1 million combined.

The business’s founder, a Lithuanian immigrant named Abraham Kivort, started a scrap metal business in Warnersville in 1938. Little did he know, more than 75 years later, that his grandson Rob Kivort, would have transformed the business in order to keep it alive and thriving in a new era.

“My grandfather was a great man!” said Rob Kivort. “Although he had no formal education, he had the will, fortitude, and work ethic to come to America and succeed! He taught me many valuable lessons, the most important of which is there is no substitute for hard work.”

Kivort said his grandfather worked in the scrap yard in Warnerville until he was 85 and became too sick to continue. Rob Kivort’s father returned home to help Abraham with the business after his mother died in the 1960s. “My father slowly grew the business by selling used steel to the local farmers in Schoharie County,” he said. “The natural progression from there was to sell new steel,” he added.

Today Kivort Steel is the region’s source of carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum products. Rob Kivort’s father, Stanley, whom he called a “great ambassador for Kivort Steel,” passed away three years ago. “He worked up until two weeks before he passed away. We miss him every day at work,” said Kivort.

These days he said Kivort Steel is “markedly different” than the Kivort Steel created by Abraham  Kivort. Kivort and business partner Michael Polischuk decided to move the business to Waterford from Warnersville 16 years ago — a move he said contributed largely to the business’s success. Since the move, Kivort said sales increased more than 1000 percent.

In Warnersville, Kivort Steel’s inventory was stored outside and handled with old truck cranes. When the business made the move to Waterford, it gained an 18,000-square-foot warehouse with three overhead cranes.
While a multimillion-dollar expansion planned in 2009 was shelved due to the recession, the business has since grown substantially.

Kivort Steel recently wrapped up an 8,000-square-foot warehouse expansion, bringing the business’s warehouse storage capacity to 52,000 square feet. The additional space is being used to organize inventory, add products and provide more flexibility loading and unloading trucks, according to Kivort. He said the new space is already full and company managers are talking about adding more.

Discussing how well the Capital Region has bounced back from the recession, Kivort said: “We are fortunate to be located where we are. The Hudson Valley, Capital District, Saratoga County and western Massachusetts have all done very well post-recession and continue to thrive.”He cites significant new projects in the region, including casinos, large apartment projects, large office projects, hospital expansions and new convention centers as signs the Capital Region economy is looking up. “All of that building bodes well for Kivort Steel and I anticipate continued growth in 2016,” he said.

Sales in 2015 were up over 20 percent from the previous year’s sales. “We are clearly in growth mode,” Kivort said. The business has added trucks to its fleet and hired new office and warehouse employees in order to support further expansion. “We currently employ 38 people. If our growth trajectory
continues on a similar path, we certainly will be adding more staff,” said Kivort. He said he gives his grandfather and father a lot of credit for the business’s success.

“It is much easier to start with something than to start a business from scratch. We were given an inventory and a line of credit and many solid business relationships,” he said. However, Kivort gives to the current generation of leadership, too: “Through hard work, years of experience and a little luck, Michael and I have been able to grow the business into the regional steel supplier it is today.”