Article Published: June 30, 2015
Article Published: June 30, 2015
As Pittsburgh redefines itself through emerging tech markets, some companies still thrive on the city’s roots in steel. Applied Systems Associates, Inc. (aSa) combined technology and steel to create the first company ever dedicated to developing software for the concrete reinforcing steel (rebar) industry. This year, aSa celebrates its 45th anniversary.
Fifty years ago, Jim Leib was tasked with writing a computer program to optimize rebar shearing for U.S. Steel. The optimization program provided step-by-step instructions for cutting and packaging rebar with greater efficiency and less scrap. When Leib founded aSa, he focused on the rebar industry. The technology started out on mainframe computers, the kind that used punch cards to store data. His first customers would handwrite orders and mail them to Pittsburgh, where aSa staff would convert orders for the punch card reader. Using Leib’s algorithm, the mainframe computer then produced shearing instructions, reports, and bundle tags: anything the clients needed to keep reinforcing steel construction projects organized and efficient.
Now, aSa is the leading provider of integrated rebar software solutions to clients across the globe. The company also offers hardware and IT services, training, consulting and supplies. aSa’s modular software system allows clients to select the solutions they need, and add new modules as their own projects or businesses grow. aSa has solutions for every step, from estimating and bidding projects to 3D CAD modeling, production, tracking, field placing and invoicing.
“Most people don’t think about rebar, let alone specialized rebar software,” said Scott Leib, aSa President and CEO. “But it’s a big part of what keeps our favorite places standing.”
Many iconic buildings around Pittsburgh were built with the assistance of aSa software, including PNC Park, Heinz Field, and Pittsburgh International Airport. Rebar fabricated using aSa products also supports some of Pittsburghers’ favorite rides at Kennywood, like the Raging Rapids, the Steel Phantom, and now the Phantom’s Revenge.
Clients from all over the world also visit Pittsburgh for aSa’s forums, held every other year. In March, more than 120 customers attended the aSa forum at Sheraton Station Square, where they participated in hands-on software workshops and learned about aSa’s upcoming features. aSa software has evolved from punch cards, to DOS PCs, to Windows, and now to the cloud. Some of aSa’s plans include developing a mobile app that will allow clients to scan steel bundles and visualize placement, launching online training courses (eLearn), and developing an online order program (Go Rebar).
Some of the clients who attend aSa’s forums have been with the company since it was founded in 1970. aSa makes it easy for customers to develop a strong, reliable relationship with the software company.
While many of Pittsburgh’s new tech startups are associated with cutting-edge incubators and college campuses, aSa is a family business, run by Jim Leib’s sons, Scott Leib, President and CEO, and Mitchell Leib, Vice President of Operations. Many of the employees have been with the company for decades, dedicating themselves to unparalleled mastery of a niche market. They know their business, and while their software evolves, they bring Pittsburgh’s small town feel and dedication to their work.