WOMEN OF NOTE 2009
President, R-H Industries Inc.
Photo credit: JANINE
4:30 am, July 20, 2009
Welding, laser cutting, brass casting — Tina Haddad's
company, R-H Industries of Cleveland, does it all.
To the surprise of some, in an industry where women owners
are an obvious minority, Ms. Haddad has proven as tough as the men and metal
she works with, and just as resilient.
“I used to answer the door and guys would ask me to see
the foreman. I said, "You're lookin' at her,'” Ms. Haddad joked.
Why wouldn't a woman do well in the metal-forming industries, Ms. Haddad
figured. After all, it affords her the opportunity to do one of her favorite
“I love to shop,” Ms. Haddad quipped on a tour of her 20-employee shop on
Cleveland's near West Side. “Except I buy machines.”
And not wimpy machines, either, but big and expensive machine tools, such as
the $250,000 computerized wire bending and cutting machine Ms. Haddad picked
up in 2000, or the $40,000 laser cutting machine she bought in 2007.
Ms. Haddad estimates she has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in
recent years buying used machine tools that still have years, if not decades
of life in them. She purchased a large metal lathe this year for $2,900 and
now has it installed and working for less than the same machine would have
fetched in a scrap yard last year.
She has toned down her spending a little bit, though. Up until 2001, Ms.
Haddad was buying not only machines, but also entire companies. She began by
buying out R-H from her family in 1999, proceeded to buy R&L Metal Spinning
next door in 2000, and then in 2001 purchased National Brass Co., a brass
casting company just down the street from her shop on West 33rd Street.
Why shouldn't she? Every time Ms. Haddad buys something, she seems to find
more business for it. All the companies have increased sales, and all the
machines have been busy since she purchased them.
“We're up about 10% so far this year,” she said. That's no small feat in an
era when many other area metal shops have experienced huge declines in
revenues, with some auto-related shops seeing sales drops of 50% or more.
Since she bought R-H Industries, its sales have gone from about $300,000 in
1999 to around $1.8 million in 2008.
“I'd buy a piece of equipment, people would hear about it, and we'd get
work,” Ms. Haddad said.
For example, that wire-bending and cutting machine she bought makes wire
that's welded together into cages that go around lights on highways, in
factories and other places where folks don't want bulbs to be broken. Prior
to that, the work was done by hand, but as soon as Ms. Haddad got the new
machine, she also got work orders to keep it busy. Now, with federal
infrastructure dollars aimed at projects that will require new lighting on
roads, bridges and other projects, she thinks the machine might be even
busier than she hoped.
It's not the first time Ms. Haddad has had to succeed in a man's world, she
said. When she became the first female prosecutor in Lima, Ohio, she learned
that if she was going to be taken seriously, she'd need to be tough and not
get pushed around.
“A judge asked me once, “Why aren't you wearing a skirt?'” she recalled,
still obviously incredulous at the question. “This judge was going to hold
me in contempt!”
Not one to back down, Ms. Haddad got a letter from the bar association
telling the judge that her attire was entirely appropriate for a female
practicing in a court of law. Case dismissed.
Harlan Karp, of the Cleveland-based law firm Karp & Camino, practiced law
with Ms. Haddad in Lima and remembers her as a tough lawyer and prosecutor.
He said he isn't surprised she's succeeding in the male-dominated world of
“Every attorney had basically been a male, and the judges and prosecutors
had all been males, so she had to be tough,” Mr. Karp said. “She didn't have
But Ms. Haddad found a way to be heard, he said, even by judges known to be
tough or even disruptive with other lawyers.
“When someone's really good, even the most talkative judges don't
interrupt,” he said. “They recognize talent when they see it.”