“Knowing that people are rooting for you, and knowing that people want you to succeed, that goes a long way,” says Reiss Structural and Architectural Products President and Owner Erin Surinak. If history has proven anything, it’s that people’s support of Reiss has in fact gone a long way, a long way back in our Midtown area’s history to be sure. Reiss Structural and Architectural Products traces its Midtown origin back a whopping 132 years!
Well, sort of. More accurately, Reiss traces its Midtown origin back 132 years, but not necessarily Reiss Structural and Architectural. Reiss wasn’t always called Reiss Structural and Architectural Products. Originally, the name was Reiss Blacksmith and Repair Shop then Reiss Ornamental and Structural Products before assuming the current name. And 132 years ago, “Midtown” would have been quite the misnomer for the area too. At that time, well over a century ago, 38th Street was called Maple Road, what we now know as Midtown was essentially the Indy suburbs, and the social dynamics of the area differed vastly from today.
Through name changes, city expansion, and social transformations (the good, the bad, and the ugly), consistency and adaptability have been the keys to Reiss’s success. In reality, even the business’s name has stayed pretty consistent when you compare it to name changes you might experience during the course of your life, from Daughter to Mom, Mom to Grandma, for instance. And like a wise aging daughter/mother/grandmother, Reiss has faced and adapted to change over time. When the company’s German immigrant founder, Paul Reiss, passed away in 1934, that man’s son, Frank Reiss, took the reins of the metal forging business. (Did you catch the horseshoe blacksmithing joke in there?). Years passed, and as Frank shifted his focus from shop-based to house-call blacksmithing, his son Paul manned the shop, expanding the service offerings to include welding. At the ripe old age of 21, Paul, having already answered the call to serve his country during WWII, answered his father’s call to take over the business. Paul shifted the shop’s focus to welding, altered the name to Reiss Ornamental and Structural Products, and hired additional employees. Fast-forward to 2015 and you find relatives of some of those employees still working hard under the Reiss name, just with different ownership and an expanded focus towards residential and commercial metalworking.
When Erin and her husband Todd purchased Reiss three years ago, they knew they had quite the business reputation to uphold, and they understood the benefits of buying, selling, and being local. “I can’t stress enough just how important it is to support the local economy,” says Erin. As engineers both, they were also smart enough to see the community-building opportunity their new status as Midtown business owners afforded them. “This business plays off what we went to college to do, and it’s in the area where we want to help and give back to the community,” As the Surinaks see it, the local economy and local community are two boats in the same harbor. Lift the tide for one and you’ve lifted them both. This community-minded approach to business was the impetus for Reiss’s partnership with the Ten Point Coalition as part of Ten Point’s ex-offender re-entry program connecting businesses to persons seeking to build skills and find employment. From Erin’s and undoubtedly others’ perspectives, the partnership has been a success. “Working with the Ten Point Coalition, we weren’t sure how we were going to be received. We weren’t sure if people were going to turn away or be supportive, and we’ve gotten so much support from the local people in the neighborhood.”
This community support may help keep Reiss running, but according to Erin, it was the benefits of living in Midtown that helped keep the Surinaks around. “We moved here in ’98. We just liked the area so much we decided to stay here and raise our family. Now, four kids later, we’re still here.” Erin, who grew up in Chicago, compares life here to life there.
[In Chicago] there’s a lot to do, but everything is so spread out. Everything is hard to get to, and there’s a lot of traffic. Here in the Midtown area, there’s a lot to do. You’re living in a city, but everything is much more convenient.”
Even with the conveniences of Midtown, it’s hard to imagine anything convenient about purchasing a longstanding and reputable business, maintaining that reputation, honoring the founding-family’s name, and expanding the community-focused efforts of that business, all while raising four kids. But the Surinaks make it look easy. Faces and focuses have changed, but location and quality of service remain the same. Add to that a heightened emphasis on community development, and you’ve got the recipe for 132 more years of success!
Visit Reiss at 3739 North Illinois St, give them a call at (317) 925-2371, or email them at email@example.com.