Steel industry icon and founder of Songer Steel Services Paul John Songer, Sr. died on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at the age of 92.
The proud-yet-humble, devout patriarch of an expansive family in Washington, PA, Paul Songer defined his entire life on his own terms through hard work and singular dedication to doing the best job possible, finding the best people available and creating a persistent culture of quiet, determined excellence and customer-driven service that remains the hallmark of the Songer Services organization.
After leaving school at the age of 16 to enlist in the Navy during World War II, Paul served his country in the Far East and was honorably discharged before his 18th birthday, returning home to follow in his father’s footsteps as a journeyman bricklayer for Andco and International Chimney.
He was a barnstorming bricklayer who learned and studied the post-war rebuild of the American steel industry from the ground up—connecting with the most talented craftspeople, foremen and supervisors from coast to coast in a country healing from war. He rose quickly through the industrial ranks to become a foreman, general foreman, project manager and general superintendent. In the process, Paul Songer became one of our nation’s foremost specialists in planning, engineering, construction, maintenance and repair for blast furnaces, coke ovens, and boiler and pressure vessels.
Throughout five decades, Paul drew on his experience with craft talent, union halls and supervisors nationwide to create multiple successful companies: Furnco Construction Company, Serstel Corporation, and Songer Construction—a company acquired by Trafalgar House that would ultimately become Davy Songer.
In 2003 while in his 70’s, Paul formed Songer Steel Services, an integrated steel maintenance and repair company known throughout the steel industry; a firm that has since evolved into a heavy industrial contracting company with start-to-finish capabilities in metals, oil, gas, chemical and civil construction. Paul retired from Songer Services in 2018.
Paul was a founding Member and President of the National Erectors Association (NEA) (now The Association of Union Contractors – TAUC). He was a member of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, American Iron and Steel Technology, American Iron and Steel Institute, Association of Iron and Steel Engineers, International Masonry Institute, International Council of Employees, American Institute of Structural Engineers, Eastern States Blast Furnace and Coke Oven Association, and the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania.
He was also involved with several charities including the United Way and the Washington County Foundation. He served on the boards of directors of Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh, Washington Hospital, and United Cerebral Palsy Foundation (now Pathways).
Paul was also a pilot who owned planes, a golfer who owned golf courses, a tremendous storyteller and a passionate family man survived by 11 children, 30 grandchildren and 36 great grandchildren. We shall not see the likes of him again.
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“Paul was a guiding force in my life; a father figure and mentor and friend I first connected with in the 1970’s after my service in the Army,” said Songer Services Chairman of the Board Joe Meneskie. “His work ethic, knowledge and integrity were equally matched by his good humor, faith and grace. Paul’s powerful example has touched every aspect of my life.”
“I first met Paul in 2002 after I’d left teaching in search of doing something substantial – I wanted to build great things,” said Songer Services President and CEO Gregg Preteroti. “The opportunity to literally work from the ground up in Paul’s company under his quiet and steady leadership molded me into the person I am today.”
“As a bricklayer by trade, I worked with Joe and Paul for years before actually joining them as an employee in 2007,” said Songer Services Chief Operating Officer Mike Armold. “I’m an example of what can happen to anyone who comes into this company with a little talent and a lot of Paul Songer’s can-do, no-nonsense work ethic and drive.”
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