SMU Community News

Special Contribution From SMU Founder John Packard

Written by John Packard

In the early 1980s I moved from Minnesota to Marietta, Ga., to join Pacesetter Steel. It was an exciting time for the steel industry. New service centers were popping up all over the country. The companies started by the Leebow brothers – Pacesetter and Majestic Steel – were dynamic organizations providing opportunities to new people just getting into the industry. The companies grew and prospered and competed with one another in the prime galvanized steel space.

I came to know Dennis Leebow as a fierce competitor. I respected him for his ability to grow Majestic and then turn it over to his sons to run. I was saddened to hear of his death, and I want to offer my condolences to his family, and the greater Majestic Steel family.

Dennis Leebow will be missed.

When I learned of Dennis Leebow’s passing, I also was made aware that earlier in that same week David Thorburn had passed as well. David’s passing was a shock to me as we worked closely for many years, and I considered him a friend. He was 69 years old.

David joined Pacesetter in 1983, one year after I joined the company. He was from Massachusetts and our working-class New England family backgrounds and our underdog, never-say-never work ethics created a bond between us. He was a great salesman who understood the value of developing trusting relationships with his customers. I was disappointed when he left Pacesetter in 1991 and joined Majestic Steel. However, it did not affect our friendship.

David was vice president of OEM sales at Majestic for 27 years before he and Mike Garrett formed Flat Rolled Distribution Consultants LLC in 2018. He retired from the steel industry in October 2019.

David loved the water, he loved to fish, and his later years were spent in Palm Coast, Fla., where he also volunteered rescuing sea turtles. On Sunday, July 9,, 2023, after a full day protecting sea turtle nests, sharing afternoon ice cream with one of his female friends, David proclaimed he was tired and laid down for a nap from which he never awoke.

David Christopher Thorburn was born on October 4, 1953, just outside of Boston, Mass. He had three younger brothers and a sister. The surviving family members wrote of their brother in his obituary: “Dave never learned there were things he couldn’t do: he just followed his interests. He played ball, dived high places, made lots of friends, skipped school, caught fish, flipped hamburgers, skied the black diamond, walked the steel and iron, cut big trees, sailed boats to faraway places and one day hopped on his Kawasaki in Maine and made a beeline down a rainy coastline to Florida, to find that beautiful girl he had just met, marry her, and start life together in earnest.”

David and Nancy had two children – Will and Linn. They in turn blessed him with grandchildren, Lucy, Willa, Jake, Liv, and Jasper.

David will be missed.

A celebration of life will be held in Palm Coast, Fla., on Saturday, August 26, time and location TBA. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Flagler Turtle Patrol.

Note: I will be attending the SMU Steel Summit Conference in Atlanta on August 21-23. I look forward to seeing many of you there. 

Written by John Packard, Founder of SMU, now retired,

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