International Pipe and Supply CEO Al Karchmer only had a couple of sales calls to make and a little mail to open before lunch.

Priorities in the steel pipe distribution business have long since been set even if the top ones are interchangeable.

"You gotta have the product, you gotta have the service and you gotta have the price. Don't ask me which one is the most important," Karchmer insists.

The biggest task today, other than tolerating a reporter in his office, is sorting all the birthday wishes coming in.



Al will turn 99 over the weekend, insuring one more hallmark in a long career that places him as the dean of steel company executives in the U.S. by a long shot.

But he got drafted and earned a Bronze Star for helping liberate and rebuild the Phillipines with the Army.

Karchmer found a new appreciation for logistics when he returned, but it wasn't until the late '70s that he came home to Oklahoma and started a little one-man pipe shop at 50th and Santa Fe.

Estimating the volume of their current business, Don says, "We're stocking close to 40,000 tons of steel pipe only all across the United States."

5 Inch Steel Pipe

After more than 40 years in buying and selling pipe there's no telling how many miles of it have moved through.

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