by Anisa Venner-Johnston
On the corner of Cherry Street and West 12th Street sits a brick building decorated with images of Erie landmarks – showcasing “Pennsylvania’s Gem City.”
This Erie-proud institution, The American Tinning and Galvanizing Company, has been owned and operated for over 80 years by three generations of the Carlson/Scheppner family. That continues today with CEO Robin Scheppner, but her path to leadership wasn’t without a quick detour.
In her 20s and after spending all her life in Erie, she decided to travel the country with a friend. They eventually settled in Naples, Florida in the early 1970s. “A college friend and I did the typical hippie experience and went camping around the country,” she explained.
Scheppner stayed there until the early 2000s, working as a teacher. However, once she received another degree in building construction, she then went into construction management and continued until trouble within the family business required it was time to come home.
The American Tinning and Galvanizing Company specializes in finishing parts – from aircraft to construction components to equipment parts, specifically those made in metal – that need a special finish on them to prevent rust. Scheppner’s grandfather opened the company in 1931. After her father died in 2001, business started floundering, and her mom asked her to come home.
“I returned to Erie and took over the business. I commuted for several years, then finally I moved my residency back to Pennsylvania. I fell in love with my hometown all over again and now I am a real cheerleader for manufacturing and all things Erie, Pennsylvania,” Scheppner explained.
She also mentioned how the people and the winter season have kept her grounded here, for their “diversity” and their “beauty.”
“To people coming back: it is more than worth it to be here. All the new development economically, socially, our education system – we are on the cusp of a real renaissance here in Erie. Everyone is welcome. You are going to be thrilled when you come back and you will find out it is worth it.”