The History of Cardinal Steel

Steve Berra (right) at a company party to celebrate the opening of a new location

Steve Berra (right) at a company party to celebrate the opening of a new location

Cardinal Steel Supply was founded by Aaron and Harvey Fenster in 1976 as a small St Louis metal fabrication shop. It began as a single-shift operation with approximately 500 tons of inventory and a 15,000-square-foot warehouse, selling to ornamental iron shops and welding and machine shops.

Cardinal steadily grew over the next few years, and in 1981 sales exceeded one million dollars for the first time. In the same year, Steve Berra was hired by the Fensters as an inside salesperson. In 1982, Berra was promoted to General Manager – a position he held until his retirement in 2023.

In November 1987, Cardinal was purchased by Charles Christopher Cauttrell (Chris). Chris started building inventory and expanding product ranges until Cardinal grew to 2,000 tons of stock, expanded from a one-shift to a two-shift operation, and sharpened its focus on being a steel supply company to the St Louis region and beyond. Cardinal joined the Steel Service Center Institute (later the Metals Service Center Institute) and Steve Berra served on the local Board of Directors.

In 1990, Tony Greer, our current warehouse manager, began his career at Cardinal. His first job was in maintenance, sweeping the floors. Five years later, he became one of Cardinal’s  steel haulers, serving our customers behind the wheel for nearly twenty years until 2022 when he was promoted to his current position overseeing operations.

In 1995, Chris purchased a new location one mile south of the original Broadway location. Fully remodeled, the new 45,000-square-foot warehouse had separate drive-through doors and three five-ton overhead cranes, making Cardinal a fully operational general-line metal fabrication and steel service center.. Since then, our customer base has grown to include structural fabricators, small service centers, construction companies, and general contractors.

In 2010, Cardinal moved its inventory of sheet, plate and expanded metal to a new 30,000-square-foot warehouse at 7610 N. Broadway. The move allowed Cardinal to grow our inventory and offer same-day pickup of sheet, plate, and expanded metal.

Tony Greer (left) in the 1996 while working as a Cardinal steel hauler.

Tony Greer (left) in 1996 while working as a Cardinal steel hauler

In 2021, Cardinal began a new and exciting period when it was acquired by Steven McNair. Steven was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended high school at St. Louis Priory School and later went on to receive his MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. After two years working at a public accounting firm, he began his metals career at St. Louis Cold Drawn, a local manufacturer of cold-finish steel bars that was founded by his grandparents. Eventually serving as President of St. Louis Cold Drawn, Steven grew the company into one of North America’s largest cold-finish bar producers. In 2017, St. Louis Cold Drawn accepted an offer of purchase from Nucor Corporation, North America’s largest steel producer. Steven spent several years integrating St. Louis Cold Drawn’s operations into Nucor as well as working to improve Nucor’s operations and technology.

In 2021, Steven decided to channel his leadership and business experience into his own new venture and purchased Cardinal Steel. He plans to invest in the business to enhance its capabilities and ultimately its service offerings. His goal is to leverage the company’s operational excellence to provide superior service to Cardinal’s customers.