Through the celebration of Black History Month here at Copper and Brass Sales, we wanted to spotlight one of our successful black-owned businesses with an inspiring story. Today’s spotlight ins on Manzi Metals, a distribution center out of Florida.
Maybe it’s simple to share that Barbara Manzi started Manzi Metals with $10,000 and an $89 desk from Walmart, but there’s more to how this story began than a woman with a bit of cash and a serious helping of ambition. In the mid-70s, Barbara was working for a distribution center where she was presented with the opportunity to learn how to buy and sell raw metals in standard forms and offer value-added services. She learned quickly and was soon known throughout the metal industry.
While standing only five feet tall, Barbara certainly has a big presence! From the beginning, she wasn’t intimidated being a woman or even a woman of color in the metals industry. Barbara was driven to buy, sell, negotiate, deliver quality goods, focus on value-added services, and to do that job just as well, if not better than anyone else.
Due to principles established in the 1960s for affirmative action, the federal government and its contractors were looking to do more business with minority suppliers. Barbara presented the idea of opening a new distribution center to her boss which she would run as a minority, and he agreed. Through her activities with this new business, Barbara was able to prove that she was strong, capable, and quite successful. After many years of success with her new venture, Barbara resigned from the company and retired with her husband to Florida.
Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor and customer Barbara had worked with over the years, said to her, “who in the hell doesn’t know Barbara Manzi? You should open your business!”
And that’s just what Barbara did. She took the $10,000 she’d saved and introduced Manzi Metals to the industry. Barbara proudly shared that she was the first woman-owned and black-owned metals business in the United States. Having established herself with customers over the previous 20 years, Barbara had orders ready to go when she opened up shop. $10,000 wasn’t enough to take care of her first large order from Lockheed Martin, so she “hocked” her cars to fulfill that order and kept on going. She focused on quality and is proud that she’s raised her son, Lou, into the business to do the same.
Manzi Metals has taken a unique approach to hiring by selecting individuals with mathematical backgrounds and those that were most compatible with aerospace and the industries they target. Barbara is confident in the added value Manzi Metals has brought through affirmative action and continues to prove their strength and viability.
While Barbara is still the owner and operator of Manzi Metals, she’s excited for the future and the foundation she’s laid for her son to take the reins. I could hear the smile in Barbara’s voice as she told me, “He’s not starting with $10,000. I see sunny blue skies ahead. We’re in great shape!” She’s looking forward to the continued partnership with Copper and Brass Sales and ways that we can do more together.
Barbara is a woman who is driven, ambitious, and will work hard to accomplish her goals. Copper and Brass Sales is honored to partner with and share the story of Barbara’s success via Manzi Metals through our celebration of Black History Month.