Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for 2013

Like a Holiday Story, Navy Veteran turns Passion into Business and Skolnik is at his side!

December 26th, 2013 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Cool Stuff

Noah Glanville is the creator and owner of the Pit Barrel Cooker Company. Pit Barrel started as a niche manufacturer of barbecue smokers and seems to be on the path to national success. As a customer, and friend of Skolnik, the story of Noah and his company is one of those stories that warms our hearts as we approach this Holiday Season.

Noah served in the Navy for 6 years. His duties included serving as a Navy Corpsman. When he returned to the US, he began the difficult process of finding employment. The national average of unemployment was near its high, and Noah changed his life path direction and decided to follow his passion by starting his own company. His passion was barbeque and thus, Pit Barrel Cooker was born.

Today, Noah has a handful of employees and is manufacturing and fulfilling orders from a small warehouse near his home. Plans for expansion are underway, he is looking for additional staff, and of course, he is giving priority to other veterans that apply. In addition, Federal tax credits have also been a boost to his operational budget. Having just spoken with Noah while writing this piece, he’s shared with me that it looks like Pit Barrel may be taking off in 2014 as he’s been approached by several national retail chains. In all, it’s a great story of a well-deserved success for a dedicated American with creativity and passion. Click here to watch a recent interview with Noah on the national Vets to Work Program.

Avoiding HAZMAT Incidents with HAZMAT Containers

December 19th, 2013 by Lisa Stojanovich

Filed under: Industry News

Incidents can happen anytime and anywhere, but with hazardous materials the effects are oftentimes greater.  Leaks can cause serious environmental damage, and contents, if not properly separated, can turn into poisonous gases.  Due to these unstable or dangerous contents, hazmat containers must be selected properly to ensure the safety of the surroundings.  Whether in transit, or storage, the right drum* can make all the difference.


Because steel drums can be made of different materials, carbon steel, stainless steel, etc, and because of the varying gauges of steel available, it is imperative that the correct drum be selected.  There are many questions to consider when determining the proper container for hazardous material.  Should the drum be lined?  If so, with epoxy-phenolic, 100% clear phenolic or pigmented phenolic? How will the materials be transported?  Road, rail, and air all may have their own rules to follow.  Knowing which size of drum to use is also important to avoid overpacking hazardous materials. Most importantly, selection of the appropriate United Nations (UN) certification level for the unique contents will insure that the shipments move within regulatory compliance, but depending on the product there may also be OSHA or EPA regulations to be aware of.  With so many regulations and specifics to consider it can be difficult to choose the safest container for shipping dangerous goods.  When looking for guidance the shipper should turn to the 49 CFR, DOT, or a consulting company.  Asking questions first can save time, money, and lives when it comes to shipping hazardous materials.


When transporting hazardous materials, it is the responsibility of the shipper that contents are properly classified, packaged, and labeled.  Carriers usually rely on the information provided by the shipper, and unless they have reasonable doubt in the instructions, assume each item is properly packaged and documented. Incidents such as leaking or contamination of contents due to improper packaging are seen as the direct effect of the shipper’s action, and can cause major legal and environmental issues.  Hazmat shippers can also face immediate costs in the forms of damaged equipment and the time it takes to review and change safety and emergency protocol.

These issues can be avoided, however, with the appropriate knowledge and equipment.  Hazmat shippers should have employees that are trained in proper storage and transport regulations, as well as security and safety awareness.  Employees should have the knowledge that allows them to make proper and safe decisions in dealing with hazardous materials, and knowing what type of container to use is essential.  According to the U.S DOT, hazmat employees are required to complete training every three years.


Safety is the number one concern when dealing with hazardous materials.  Proper drum selection and regularly updated training are just two of the ways Hazmat shippers can avoid unnecessary incidents.


*As Skolnik is a manufacturer of steel drums we focused on this type of container, but certain hazardous materials may require a different type of container and proper research should be done before shipping any dangerous goods.


Skolnik Celebrates World Quality Day 2013

December 19th, 2013 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News

Quality is no longer an option, it’s a requirement! Celebrating quality has become an annual event at Skolnik. For the 6th year, on Nov 14th, 2013, Stephanie Bravo, our Assistant Director of Quality, hosted a day of quality awareness presentations ranging from on-line production issues to internal coating characteristics and application. Everyone in the company participated and increased their knowledge of our quality process, expectations, and opportunities for improvement. With the theme this year of "Making Collaboration Count," we are grateful for presentations that were given by Fred Chin of Universal Chemicals and Coatings, and Rufus Baygents, Assistant Maintenance Manager at Skolnik. In addition to the presentations, a food drive for BinDonated was successful in raising more than $500 worth of food products and donations for a local Chicago community resource center. The day included a luncheon and awards ceremony highlighting the quality achievements of staff that exemplified the quality effort used in fulfilling our customer requirements. Check out pictures from our 6th Annual Quality Day here.

Unified Wine and Grape Symposium

December 17th, 2013 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Wine

Skolnik Industries will once again be exhibiting at the 2014 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium which will be held January 28 – 30 in Sacramento, CA. Since the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) and the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) joined forces to create the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in 1995, it has become the largest wine and grape conference in the nation. The trade show is home to over 650 suppliers to the wine and grape industry. With more than 13,400 industry professionals attending, the symposium has established a reputation for providing outstanding, current and breaking news, as well as information and content that benefits the industry. As one of the industry’s premier gatherings, the Unified Symposium presents a vital platform to focus on the issues shaping today, while interfacing the topics and trends shaping the future of grape growing and winemaking. A highlight of the 2014 event will be the keynote speaker, Jerry Baldwin, former owner of Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks co-founder, who will present the opening day luncheon address. His unmatched expertise on marketing and customer service will make for a powerful opening day. Baldwin purchased the Peet’s chain in 1984 after learning much of the coffee trade directly from Alfred Peet, who founded the first coffee house under his name in Berkley, CA., in 1966. Before buying Peet’s, Baldwin founded Starbucks in 1971 with Zev Siegl and Gordon Bowker. He now owns and operates a vineyard and J. Baldwin Wines in Glen Ellen, CA. Another new feature at the 2014 show will be a new mobile-smartphone website that will include a map of the show. Not only will you be able to use your smartphone to help you navigate the trade show floor, but you can also check out the program sessions. You will find Skolnik and our stainless steel wine barrels at booth number 1213. See you in Sacramento!

Nellie Bly: Woman of Steel

December 12th, 2013 by Lisa Stojanovich

Filed under: Industry News

Part Three: Mother of the 55 gallon steel drum

This post is part three of the Nellie Bly story.  Catch up with parts one and two if you missed them before.

By the age of 30, in 1985, Bly had met and married Robert Seaman.  At 70 years old he was two decades her senior, and a millionaire industrialist who owned a the Iron Clad Manufacturing Company, based in Brooklyn.  At this time Bly retired from journalism, and began managing the factory.  The company had already established itself as a kitchenware manufacturer and was currently producing milk cans and riveted boilers.  Ten years into their marriage Seaman died, and Bly became president of the company.  In 1901, at the Pan-American Exposition, Iron Clad Manufacturing was owned exclusively by Bly, and she was being promoted as  “the only woman in the world personally managing industries of such a magnitude.”

After a trip to Europe in 1904, where she saw steel containers designed to hold glycerine, Bly was inspired to invent her own metal barrel.  After many failed attempts including leaking barrels and defective solders, Bly attempted to braze the barrels, but that contaminated the liquid contents.  She continued to work her designs until she had a barrel that she was proud to sell to the people.  In only a year from her inspiring trip across the Atlantic, Bly had a design that was patented and ready for the American market.

Patent for Bly’s metal barrel

There was large demand for a container that could transport oil, gasoline, and other precious liquids, and at the time Bly and Iron Clad Manufacturing were the only American company who could meet those needs.  At the peak of its performance, the company was producing 1,000 barrels a day and hiring around 1,500 employees.  It is commonly believed that this design became the 55 gallon drum that is used today throughout the world.

Although the metal barrel was proving successful, legal issues were forming.  Bly was owner and majority shareholder of both Iron Clad and its subsidiary, American Steel Barrel Company, and in a government affidavit she insisted that the same books were kept for the companies and it would be impossible to differentiate funds between one or the other; the companies were too dependent on each other to be separate entities. When she was asked to prove that all investments made into American Steel by Bly were for the best interest of Iron Clad and not herself, she was charged with fraud.  Although there was no proof to convict her and she was innocent, creditors began calling and the business began to suffer.

Iron Clad Manufacturing eventually succumbed to debt and Bly returned to reporting just in time to cover the events of World War I.  She died at the age of 57 due to pneumonia on January 27, 1922, and was laid to rest in her beloved New York City in the Bronx.  Although, Bly is most remembered for her impressive reporting skills, contemporary members of the packaging industry know her better has the mother of the 55 gallon drum.

Thank you for following the story of Nellie Bly: Woman of Steel.

Open Head vs Tight Head drums

December 5th, 2013 by Lisa Stojanovich

Filed under: Industry News

In terms of heads, there are two types of drums, open head and tight head.  The open head drum has a fully removable cover and only the bottom is seamed.  The tight head drum has both ends seamed and no removable lid and access is through fittings, usually 2” and ¾” in the top. Both drums types can be United Nations (UN) and Department of Transportation (DOT) certified for hazardous materials or dangerous goods.

Different tools or special procedures are used depending on the materials and gauges used to construct the drums, but both types start with a welded cylinder.  Next, open head drums have one end flanged which becomes the bottom of the drum and the other end is curled to create a seat for the removable top.  On a tight head drum both ends are flanged and thus permanently sealed, so both ends of a tight head drum look like a “bottom.”  Typically for tight a head drum there are only two hoops added along the vertical drum equidistant from the middle, while an open head drum may have three hoops in varying distances along the vertical side of the drum.  An open head drum may also have a gasket or fittings in the covers.

These wine barrels are an example of a tight

head drum, the top and bottom cannot be removed.

Whether an open or closed head drum, to insure the integrity of the closure system, and to help guarantee the safe storage of contents, the drum needs to be closed properly in accordance with each manufacturer’s Closure Instructions. It is imperative that whoever is handling the drum understands the procedures for the specific closure type that is being used.  There are two main types of closures for open head drums, lever lock and bolt rings.  Both closures will help protect contents of the drum from spills or contamination, but it is important to know which closure will work best for each drum and expected contents.  The Bolt Ring closure consists of a closure ring with welded lugs through which a bolt and nut will secure closure. The Leverlock is a toggle-style closure, has no removable parts, and is a much faster method of closure than the bolt ring. Closure instructions can be found anytime on the Skolnik website in both written (English and Spanish)  and video form to help customers safely secure open head drums.

An open head drum with a Bolt Lock and another with a Lever Lock closure


In almost any industry where contents need to be shipped, drums are used, therefore it is important to make sure contents are being stored in the proper type of drum.  Open heads are best used for solids and viscous liquids.  When items such as honey, paint, or even radioactive waste are being shipped or stored an open head drum should be used.  Tight heads are best used for liquids, contents that can be easily drained through the fittings, such as flavors, fragrances, or beverages.

Whatever is being shipped, the proper drum makes all the difference in reducing risk and safe passage. Skolnik Industries is dedicated to giving its customers exceptional quality and service.