Curmudgeonly Character Left His Mark on Steel

By Tim Triplett, Editor-in-Chief

Anyone who ever met him would agree that Tom Stundza was “a character.” Webster’s defines a character as “a person marked by notable or conspicuous traits.” What was most notable about Tom is that, while he made his living as a writer, he was an even more conspicuous talker.

Tom was a big bear of an individual who stood out in a crowd. To say he was a bit irreverent is like saying Bill Gates was a bit wealthy, before he started giving his money away. Bill may have had more money than God, but Tom had more opinions. He loved a good debate, especially if it involved the steel business…or sports…or politics…. On the few occasions where we shared the dais on industry panels, it was always comforting to know that, if I choked, Tom could fill the time and keep the audience informed and entertained all by himself.

Stundza and I shared a common background in newspapers and trade magazines, so we considered ourselves members of the same ink-stained fraternity. Although I only saw him a couple times a year as our assignments crossed paths, I considered him a friend. I would walk into a cocktail party at some CBSA or MSCI event, and he would already be there working the room. He seemed to be on a first-name basis with everyone. Eventually he would spot me and holler, “Greetings, Brother Triplett!”

His 40 years as a journalist included a seven-year stint with American Metal Market and 26 years as an executive
editor and commodities analyst with Purchasing Magazine, which folded earlier this year. Not ready to retire, he had recently taken a job as an analyst with IHS Global Insight, where his many contacts and his decades of experience would no doubt have made him an asset.

Most of us in the media consider ourselves outsiders, trying to keep some professional distance from the industries we cover. Stundza spent so many years rubbing elbows with so many buyers and sellers of metals that he transcended that divide. The Association of Steel Distributors even thought it fitting to name him its Steel Man of the Year in 2000.

Tom died Dec. 15 at age 62 due to complications during heart surgery. His passing leaves an unfillable hole in the lives of those close to him, and a sizable one in the metals market that he loved. I’ll never attend another industry reception without feeling his big, gregarious absence.

Godspeed, Brother Stundza.

-30-

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016