Steel firm tempel chooses company vet as next CEO

10 February 2016

Tempel, a Chicago steel products company that's been in operation since 1945, has appointed one of its longtime executives to lead the firm.

Gary Wagner, 63, has taken over as CEO at Tempel, replacing chief executive Vincent Buonanno, who recently retired, the company said in a statement.

Headquartered in the Bowmanville neighborhood on the North Side, Tempel produces precision magnetic steel laminations for the automotive, motor and lighting industries, among others. The company says it has more 1,600 employees around the world, and has revenue that exceeds $400 million annually. Crain's estimated in its most recent list of the area's biggest, privately held companies that Tempel had $520 million in sales in 2014.

Buonanno, 72, was one of the longest-tenured manufacturing CEOs in the Chicago area, having led Tempel for 26 years, a time that saw the firm expand overseas. Buonanno was unavailable for comment. He retired once before, in 2012, when the company brought another executive on as CEO, but came out of retirement in 2014 after that executive left.

In addition to the plant attached to its North Side office, the company operates factories in Canada, Mexico, China and India, according to its website. Eight years ago, Tempel closed a factory in Libertyville and shifted jobs to its Chicago complex after considering moving the positions to Mexico.

Before his promotion, Wagner served as president and chief operating officer at Tempel, and has worked with the company in a variety of roles for more than 20 years. Wagner also spent 14 years working for PSW Industries, a Chicago metal manufacturer that Tempel acquired in 2001.

Wagner was traveling for business, and unavailable for comment. In its statement, the company said Wagner is focused on “strengthening new and existing customer relationships, and retaining the most knowledgeable and skilled workers in the lamination industry—both of which he believes are critical to the company's continued success.”

In addition to leaving the chief executive slot, Buonanno stepped down as the company's board chairman. Chicago attorney Christopher Stephan, formerly with Kirkland & Ellis, has been appointed to that role.

Tempel was founded in 1945 by Tempel Smith, who is also known for starting Tempel Farms, the equestrian facility in Lake County.