As the youngest of four children in a blue collar Detroit family, Joseph Mallak admired doctors and lawyers.
"We always looked up to the doctors and lawyers as the pillars of society," the president and CEO of Hussey Copper said.
But marrying a doctor was the closest he ever got to pursuing one of the professions. After stints at Ford Motor, Century Aluminum, Reserve Group and Aleris International, Mr. Mallak, 47, took the top job at Hussey after Patriarch Partners purchased the bankrupt Leetsdale copper producer for $107.8 million in December 2011.
Hussey makes copper rod, sheet, plate and other products used in construction, electrical, chemical and other industries.
Mr. Mallak said good leaders inspire people to follow them out of respect and a desire to have a successful future.
"Fear and intimidation only make people follow out of necessity," he said.
He is more proud of his blue collar background -- his father was a union worker in the auto industry -- than he is of his title, which he does not append at the bottom of his email messages.
"It's not about me. It's about Hussey," he said.
Mr. Mallak said his biggest accomplishment is his family, which includes his wife and three children. He cautioned that those who want to lead an organization should be aware that it will require making compromises in other areas of their lives.
"All of us could spend more time with our families, but quality is more important than quantity -- at least that is my opinion," he said. "Being at the top can be highly rewarding, but remember that 'CEO' really stands for 'Career Ending Opportunity.' "
Mr. Mallak said he runs Hussey on three principles: communication, execution and accountability.
"It all starts with communication," he said. "We use a tool called 'Voice of the Customer' to promote better communication between sales, operations, supply chain and our outside customers. Better communications improves a customer's experience and will drive future growth."
-- Len Boselovic: email@example.com or 412-263-1941