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Norman Gottschalk, ex-MSCI chair, dies at 73

Jun 19, 2017 | 02:11 PM | Dom Yanchunas

Tags  Norman Gottschalk, Marmon/Keystone, obituary, Metals Service Center Institute, MSCI, National Association of Steel Pipe Distributors, Don McNeeley, Peter Whiting Robert Weidner

NEW YORK — Norman E. Gottschalk Jr., a titan of tube and pipe who guided Marmon/Keystone LLC through its greatest expansion period and served as chairman of the Metals Service Center Institute, died on June 18, his family said. 

He was 73 and lived in O'Hara Township, Pa., and Cape Coral, Fla. The cause of death was unexpected complications following surgery, said his daughter, AMM scrap correspondent Lisa Gordon.

Gottschalk was president of Marmon/Keystone from 1989 to 2014, a period that saw the Butler, Pa.-based steel tubing distributor grow from eight locations to 61. He was MSCI's chairman from 2007 to 2009 and was a former director at the National Association of Steel Pipe Distributors. In 1999, Gottschalk was named Service Center Executive of the Year by Metal Center News. 

Gottschalk was "admired throughout the industry," and his "achievements went beyond the walls of Marmon/Keystone," Don McNeeley, president and chief executive officer of Chicago Tube & Iron Co., said on June 19.

"Norm was a very visible leader in the tubing community," McNeeley told AMM. "His admiration and pride in his company were on display in every encounter with Norm. This was coupled with a profound commitment to family."

Born in 1944 at his grandmother's house in Harmarville, Pa., Gottschalk first made a living as a "juiceman" who delivered orange juice to homes in the Pittsburgh region on a milkman-like route. Gordon said he "quickly realized that he couldn't feed four kids on that path." So he put himself through college at night, eventually earning an accounting degree from Robert Morris University. He worked at International Harvester Co. before joining Keystone Tubular Services in Butler as an accountant in 1969. That company later was acquired by Marmon Group. 

Gottschalk earned a series of promotions in the Marmon companies, attaining controller and vice president titles before serving as president of Marmon/Keystone and affiliate Marmon Distribution Services Inc. He was president in 2008, when Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Co. acquired a majority stake in Marmon/Keystone parent Marmon Holdings Inc. Gottschalk retired six years later. 

Gottschalk "served Marmon with distinction for 45 years," Frank Ptak, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Marmon Holdings, said in a statement on June 19. 

"Norm's knowledge of and service to the steel industry was unsurpassed, as evidenced by his many industry honors and leadership positions," Ptak said.

In 2012, Gottschalk was the recipient of Robert Morris University's Heritage Award, the university's highest alumni award for distinguished achievement. 

Within MSCI, Gottschalk was "an effective and respected leader," said McNeeley, who immediately preceded Gottschalk as president. 

"Norm was particularly well known as the founding father of the MSCI tubular section," said Peter Whiting, the former chairman, president and CEO at PTC Alliance Corp. "Always tough but fair in business dealings, Norm upheld the highest ethical standards. He was always ready with sound advice and was never short of a humorous story, which he told with a mischievous twinkle in his eye."

MSCI president and CEO Robert Weidner III said Gottschalk also will be remembered for spearheading philanthropic endeavors within the communities served by Marmon/Keystone. 

"He was a great negotiator and a phenomenal finance mind, but the aspect of his business attributes that I learned the most from was his curious mind and never accepting the first answer and never accepting the status quo," Weidner said.

"He was iconic in the steel industry and one of a handful of exceptional individuals in the metals industry, one of a small group of special leaders," Weidner said. "He always had that little smile on his face, whether he was in the most serious of business conversations or in a relaxed moment. He always had the knack for saying the right thing at the right time." 

Whiting, who is now president of Keywell Metals LLC, said he will miss joining Gottschalk on their various golf, fishing and business outings and said both Gottschalk's life and his retirement were cut far too short.

Among Gottschalk's legacies in metals is Gordon, who joined AMM in 2008. 

"When I was 12, I complained that we didn't have fashion magazines on the coffee table like my friends," Gordon said. "My dad told me to read the magazines we had, because they had good information and maybe I would learn something. We had Iron Age and American Metal Market. He actually considered this good reading for a 12-year-old. It turns out he was correct, as usual, but it took me 25 more years before I started reading it."

She said retirement never stopped him from paying keen attention to his former colleagues.

"We still talked about the industry all the time, and he followed the world of metal faithfully until the end," she said. 

Gottschalk is also survived by his wife of 54 years, Patricia Koehler Gottschalk; sons Norman III and Charles; and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased by a daughter, Laura Carb. 

Funeral arrangements are through Bock Funeral Home in Glenshaw, Pa. Visitation is June 21 and 22, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. both days. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. June 23 at St. Joseph Parish, 342 Dorseyville Road in O'Hara Township. Burial will follow in Lakewood Memorial Park in Cheswick, Pa. Gordon said Gottschalk will be buried next to his deceased daughter. 

Dom Yanchunas

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