John Stanik uses experience to help changes go down at Ampco-Pittsburgh


New chapter, similar story: that’s how you might describe CEO John Stanik’s first year leading Ampco-Pittsburgh Corp.

Those similarities are what drew him to the company in the first place.

Stanik served as CEO of Calgon Carbon for nearly a decade, improving a company that was losing money, but had a great series of products.

“The process that we utilized at Calgon Carbon was very effective. It was a proven process, one that I thought could be successful at Ampco,” he says. “I felt that I could make positive change here and that was important to me.”

Stanik retired from Calgon Carbon because of his ailing wife’s health. But after she died, he was looking to start a new chapter and Ampco was the right opportunity.

In today’s down market, it’s been challenging to turn around the $250 million manufacturer with its 1,650 employees and two divisions: forged and cast engineered products, known as Union Electric Steel; and air and liquid processing.

Ampco began a diversification strategy before Stanik came on. Like many others, the company is seeking to structure itself through acquisition or strategic choice in order to be less affected by the cycles of the metals industry.

Unfortunately, the strategy was in the oil and gas business. The business segment had been growing exponentially — $4 million to $14 million to $24 million — but by the middle of May 2015, the market died.

“We had a very effective strategy there, but once again, the market that we choose hit a downturn,” he says.

Despite the market challenges, Stanik is pleased with what the company has accomplished and he’s cautiously optimistic about the future.

“We are really at a point today where we are so much better,” he says. “We have so much more capability that we could offer, if only there was business to be had.”

Here’s how Stanik has helped better position Ampco for today and tomorrow.

Dive deep

Although Ampco and Calgon Carbon faced similar challenges, the situation at Ampco was different. Stanik says he was an outsider, rather than someone who grew up in the company. He didn’t know the operational details and hadn’t had most of the people report to him at one point or another.

“I was dependent on the quality of people here, the amount of experience and knowledge they had about the business,” Stanik says. “I was bringing, so to speak, a series of tools to try and help them create a different future for the company.”

He started with a deep analysis of where the company had been and what was causing the deterioration in results.