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It could have been an incredibly bad omen. Dimitri Triphon bought Able Sheet Metal, Inc., on September 11, 2001.

But, it could have become much worse, too. Able Sheet Metal manufactures and distributes roof vents, edging, flashing and other metal pieces for roofing wholesalers and small lumberyards. Companies like his new acquisition started going under after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and continued into the subsequent recession that slowed the building industry to a near halt.

Instead of being another small manufacturing company handing out pink slips and closing its doors, Triphon and Able Sheet Metal did something different: it turned a profit.

His secret?

“We came into a recession debt-free. We didn’t have any loans,” Triphon said, noting that some of his competitors faced the recession in the red. “And some of them went under. Some of them had to scale down their operations. And we took advantage of that. We purchased some equipment like 25 cents on the dollar.”

Not only did they buy discounted equipment, but Able Sheet Metal also aggressively took its stake in the market. It wasn’t so easy either, with the price of steel down and building becoming cheaper.

“We still manage to get a profit,” Triphon said. “Most importantly right now, [we are] trying to increase the market share.”

A native of Russia, Triphon said he left in 1973 “before the Iron Curtain came down.” After working in a related industry for 25 years, he bought Able Sheet Metal with three partners. Established in 1946, the company is based in Los Angeles. Five years ago, they were able to open another location in northern California, which Triphon said is also doing well. Able Sheet Metal services companies in California, Nevada and Arizona. Currently, about 100 people are on the payroll.

What puts Able Sheet Metal above its competitors is what Triphon describes as something that seems very basic and simple.

“I recognized the weaknesses in the industry and we addressed them,” he said. It boiled down to three areas needing improvement – service, quality and price. “Improvements [have been] tremendous. We’ve been growing almost 40 percent a year.”

As for 2012, Triphon’s No. 1 goal is to continue to grow beyond  clients currently being served in California, Nevada and Arizona. The company is looking to expand into more states, such as Arizona and Utah.

“We need to expand,” he said. “We have to follow customers to provide service.”

For more information, please visit: www.ablemetal.com

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