Steelite Bringing Showroom to Commerce Building

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio ­– Steelite International USA, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tableware, will open a showroom in the fifth floor of the Commerce Building in the coming months, owner and CEO John Miles says.

Steelite’s American headquarters is in New Castle, Pa., where the company also operates a warehouse and another showroom.

Work will soon begin on renovating the 15,000-square-foot space – most recently home to The Fifth Floor restaurant and, before that, the Youngstown Club – which Miles expects to be completed by June. The project is “at minimum” a $1 million investment, he adds.

“There’s a significant amount of construction that needs to take place: floors, painting, remodeling public space. What’s unique is that it’ll be a working showroom,” Miles says.

The space features a bar area, a full restaurant and a large kitchen. Renovations will enable Steelite’s clients to see tableware sets in displays, Miles says.

“There will be a bar for the mixology part of our business,” he says. “There will be a fully functional kitchen so people can come in, plate their dishes and look at everything firsthand, from the way it photographs to the way it’s presented to making sure the portions are the right sizes.”

The Youngstown showroom will serve as the main area showroom for the company, replacing most of what’s in New Castle, Miles says. It will join its counterparts Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, New York and Washington, D.C.

“The buildings that we’re in tend to be historic buildings,” the CEO says. “The Commerce Building is in the vein of other buildings we use around the country in terms of look and feel.”

And while Youngstown doesn’t have the same reputation as cities like New York or Chicago, Miles nonetheless believes the space here will be a success.

“I think it’s a ‘build it and they will come’ thing. We’re offering something that’s unique around the world,” he says, estimating the Commerce Building space will be one of the largest tableware showrooms in the world. “When people are specing hotels or restaurant chains and specifying their new glassware or china, you’re talking about multimillion-dollar purchases. What customers are concerned about are seeing everything in a working space that is super functional.”

What attracted Miles and Steelite to downtown Youngstown and the Commerce Building, beyond the vintage architectural styling, is the revitalization underway downtown.

Visiting clients will stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton, scheduled to open March 29, while the revived night life downtown will provide entertainment outside of business hours. Coupled with advancements and expansion at Youngstown State University and the proximity of Steelite’s warehouse about 15 miles away in New Castle,, the decision to move downtown was an obvious one, Miles says.

Miles toured the space atop the Commerce Building, 201 E. Commerce St., late last year, says Richard Mills, president of Ohio One Corp., which owns the building. The long-term lease was signed in this month.

“If I had to pick a tenant that would be perfect for the fifth floor space, it would be Steelite. They can use all the stuff that’s there. They have use for the whole space,” Mills says. “Not only will they be a good customer of the hotel, but they’ll frequent the bars and restaurants. There will be 15 or 20 people downtown that will be here on a daily basis. It’s positive all the way around.”

As downtown has undergone its revitalization, most of the additions to the city center have been restaurants and housing. But the arrival of Steelite could signal the start of something new, Mills says.

“That’s the key: to expand the business base. There are a lot of restaurants. There are a lot of bars. But this will bring workers to downtown,” he says.

The renovations in downtown come alongside an expansion at the Steelite’s New Castle warehouse, 154 Keystone Drive. There, a $1.5-million state grant will fund the addition of eight million cubic feet of light manufacturing and warehouse space.

Globally, Steelite owns or has a joint venture in 70 factories and manufactures 40 brands of tableware for the hospitality industry. Products distributed to customers in North and South America, including Panera Bread and Michelin-starred restaurants, are shipped to the New Castle warehouse and distributed from there.

A New Castle native, Miles acquired Steelite International in 2016 with PNC Riverarch Capital. Before purchasing the company, he served as president of Steelite’s Americas division for 11 years, following positions with Woodmere China and Homer Laughlin China Co.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.