Metal Supermarkets: First Nebraska Location Presents a Pivotal Growth Period

Previously working in corporate finance, Rob Schlueter decided to look for new opportunities and transition to franchise ownership by opening the first Nebraska location for Metal Supermarkets, a supplier of small-quantity metals, trademarked as the “convenience store for metal.”

“I began looking for other opportunities, specifically in franchising,” Schlueter said. “I came across Metal Supermarkets in my search and thought that it perfectly fit the need for a small-quantity metal supplier in Omaha.”

Founded in 1985 by William “Bill” H. Mair in the Greater Toronto Area, Metal Supermarkets has expanded to almost 110 brick-and-mortar stores in Canada, the U.S., and U.K. The franchise operation sells and distributes a variety of metal types and ranges, including hot and cold rolled steel, aluminum, copper and brass, and stainless steel in bars, tubes, angles, channel, sheet and plate.

Backed By Experience

“We have no minimum order, we can cut to length [and] sell it full size,” Schlueter added.

“As an Omaha local, the people who walk through our doors are neighbors, friends, other businesses owners … I want to make sure we provide them the level of service I would want from a company like ours.”

Schlueter said the amount of support the corporate team provides franchisees helps ensure each branch can “do our jobs and do it well.”

When asked at greater length about franchisor structure and support, and the relationships among franchisees, Schlueter said there are plenty of people he can call from the corporate team.

“And I’ve never had a question or concern that someone hasn’t been able to answer,” he said. “I’m also on a group text chain with other franchise owners across the Midwest, and they’re all very receptive, answering any questions or thoughts I may have.

- Advertisement -

“It’s nice to have that safety net and the support network of both the corporate team and franchisees who have been through all of this before.”

Relying on Customer Experience

The Omaha location, near Interstate 80 and Giles Road, boasts access to a reported 8,000 types, shapes and grades of metal, cut to each customer’s specifications. The Metal Supermarkets at 13239 Portal Dr. opened February 7.

Since then, the firm’s breadth of product and abundance of service has resonated, according to Schlueter.

“Our customers have been so enthusiastic and appreciative that we’re here,” he said. “We’re problem-solvers. We provide them with the metal that they need and we do it with customer service as our focus.”

Schlueter furthermore noted that customers comment on the new concept, and go on to spread the word to friends, family members and colleagues.

“The best way for us to grow is through word of mouth,” he added. “So, we’re grateful that people have gone out of their way to help support our business.”

Serving hobbyists, homeowners and professionals alike — from local manufacturers and machinists, to repair folks, tool and die shops, artists, hospitals, hotels, and schools — the debut and expansion of Metal Supermarkets arguably could not come at a better time.

In an early February release, the company reported 10 franchise locations were in development. To the latter point, the magnitude and widespread nature of pronounced supply challenges throughout the pandemic have almost taken on a life of its own.

“In the current normal, you have to put in more work to find what you’re looking for,” Schlueter said, when asked for his “take” on current supply constraints, and how his team is stepping up.

“I experienced that when setting up my store and having to buy equipment and inventory … we’ll do everything in our power to make sure we’re servicing our customer’s needs and get them the metal supply they may not be able to find elsewhere.”

In the near term, Schlueter said the team is focused on solving specific customer problems as word spreads in the metro region.

“We’re 100% focused on customer service and taking care of the basics,” he said.

“Eventually, we want to donate metal to local trade schools and nonprofits in the area.”
And, eventually, Schlueter said if Metal Supermarkets in Omaha continues to function as the “easiest place for customers to buy their metal,” then “business growth will take care of itself.”

402-205-7545 • 13239 Portal Drive, Suite 105, Omaha 68138