An adventure that began in a European displacement camp continues in Ashtabula County as Lukjan Metal Products celebrated 50 years in business Saturday.
Tony Lukjanczuk met his bride to be in a displacement camp in Germany in the early 1950s after war devastated much of Europe.
“My father’s house was totally destroyed,” said Elena Kelly of her father Tony Lukjanczuk from Belarus.
He later came to the United States and his wife to be, Natalie of the Ukraine, followed close behind.
Tony, his brother Serge and brother-in-law Nick Floresku worked in a Cleveland area metal factory, but wanted more control of their lives.
Natalie Lukjanczuk, widow of Tony, said the family came from Cleveland and purchased 80 acres in Monroe Township where they started making steel products for heating systems in 1964.
“It just gradually builds. There was a lot of door-to-door (selling),” she said of the growth of the business that truly was a family operation.
Natalie said she worked on the production line and then would take invoices home and work at night. “They really worked hard,” Kelly said of her parents and other relatives that made the company work.
The company makes a variety of products for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industry. “It’s everything between your furnace and the register,” Kelly said.
After leaving the barn, the company worked out of an East Conneaut facility and then moved to the present location and built a building on the West side of Conneaut in 1967.
Kelly said the company would add a building or an addition when they could afford the expansion.
The 2008 housing crash slowed business at the Conneaut plant, but things appear to be on the upswing, Kelly said. She said there are currently 125 employees and temporary workers at the plant.
“This last year we hired 25 people,” Kelly said.
The company also opened a plant in North Carolina in 2006 to expand the business into the South. Kelly said the products are expensive to transport so plants are needed closer to markets.
Kelly said the Conneaut plant serves a variety of markets in the Midwest and Northeast.
Kelly said the company tries to work with employees even during difficult economic times. “We’ve never had a layoff in 50 years,” she said.
During bad times workers’ hours may be cut, but they are still employed, she said.
Hundreds of people attended an open house at the plant Saturday.