CEO of Commercial Metal Forming Seeks Strengths

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Bob Messaros believes in giving people opportunities.

Through his early career years as a college assistant football coach to his 35 years in manufacturing, the CEO of Commercial Metal Forming says he’s learned that “leadership is a choice. Everybody has the opportunity to lead if they choose. We tell that to people every day at Commercial Metal Forming.”

The company makes tank heads at its plants on Logan Avenue in Youngstown, in Saginaw, Texas, and in Orange, Calif. Its origin dates to 1920 with the founding of Commercial Shearing and Stamping by Youngstown’s Cushwa family. Corporate umbrellas subsequently switched to publicly traded Commercial Intertech, then Parker Hannifin, which spun off the metal stamping division that ultimately was reconstituted as Commercial Metal Forming.

“Leadership is about the example you set … and people see whether or not that’s sincere, whether you’re doing that when no one is looking,” Messaros says.

“Do we want leaders or do we want leadership?” he asks.

When Messaros took the helm of Commercial Metal Forming 10 years ago, he and the team he brought implemented a “talent management” process based on the 2007 book “Strengths Finder” by Tom Rath.

“We build our employee development from there,” he says.

“You’ve got to be passionate about this stuff. We don’t hand out books to read and say, ‘Go self-help.’ We have a saying: We get down in the mud and you get mud between your toes and in your ears and it’s OK.

“Every day, I am the king mistake-maker. That’s how it should be. We encourage people that it’s OK to fail, as long as you learn from it. You know why something happened, and have you thought about a course, directionally, of how you’re going to change that behavior, change what you did, or change your process,” he says. 

“We tell people when they are hired here: ‘Listen, this isn’t a company for everybody. We have expectations. We’re going to challenge you because our responsibility is to help you be the best you can be, and sometimes that’s painful.’ ”

Messaros was interviewed by Jeff Herrmann, CEO of the Youngstown Publishing Co., as part of the Brain Gain Leadership Podcast Series. New episodes are posted every Wednesday at The podcasts are available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Podcasts and Sticher.

Pictured: Bob Messaros credits his leadership lessons to family, football and faith. He was interviewed by Jeff Herrmann for the Brain Gain Leadership Podcast series.