Positively West Virginia
Positively West Virginia
Episode 125 – Mike Emerson – Huntington Steel

Mike Emerson was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1978 and sold life insurance for Northwestern Mutual for two years before going to work for IBM in 1980. Emerson was a marketing representative and systems engineer with IBM for seven years before moving back to Huntington, WV in 1986 to learn about his wife’s family business, Huntington Steel. Emerson succeeded his father-in-law in 1992, becoming President and then CEO. He helped start and run additional successful companies and one spectacularly failed company. Additionally, he also bought and sold a few businesses.  

Emerson has been married to his wife, Christine, for 41 years and they have four children who are all married and have five grandchildren so far. He has been involved with and chaired the Tri-State Community Foundation, the MountWest Community College Foundation, Covenant School (a private Christian school in Huntington), and leadership in their local church.

Huntington Steel and Supply Co. started back in 1904 as a boiler repair and manufacturing shop by James A Diddle and his brother. He passed the business down to his son, Sterling Diddle, who ran and grew the company. Diddle had three daughters, so he ended up hiring two of his sons-in-law to run the business and ultimately, it was passed to his grandson, R. Sterling Hall, where the company did its most significant growth by adding the service center distribution business and the structural fabrication business. Hall passed the business to Emerson, who is in the late stages of passing the business on to the new wave of family leadership, the sixth generation. Along the way he helped start a detailing company in Tennessee, another steel fabrication company in Charleston, West Virginia, a galvanizing company in Virginia, a self-storage business in Huntington, WV and a Tower Logistics company in Huntington, WV that sold windmill parts domestically and internationally all while adding additional locations to the parent company.

  • 3:01  Mike take a minute, fill in some gaps from that brief intro and give us a little behind the curtain look into your company.
  • 4:22 What is the thing you are most excited about right now for Huntington Steel?
  • 7:00 What is your 30 sec. pitch for Huntington Steel?
  • 9:20 There is a fabrication side to your business, too, right? 
  • 10:22 How many employees do you have?
  • 10:59 What is the geographic market that you serve?
  • 12:03 How long have you been the CEO at Huntington Steel?
  • 12:30 What has been your best business moment so far?
  • 14:46 What has been your worst business moment so far?
  • 18:19 PWV Commercial Break
  • 18:52 What is your long term vision for Huntington Steel?
  • 23:00 How do you attract new customers? 
  • 24:15 Outside of Covid-19, what is one of the biggest challenges you’re facing right now?
  • 25:15 What is one piece of advice that you would give to young business owners/ entrepreneurs in WV?
  • 27:34 What is one thing you do every day that you think contributes to your success?
  • 29:27 What is one book that you would recommend for aspiring entrepreneurs? 
  • 31:30 What is the “Huntington Hold Down,” and what does it do?
  • 33:51 Is there anything else you would like our listeners to know about Huntington Steel or your story?
  • 34:59 How can our listeners learn more about Huntington Steel and maybe even get in touch with you?
  • 35:49 Outro