The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) is pleased to announce the election of James G. Thompson, president of Palmer Steel Supplies Inc., McAllen, Texas, as the new chair of its board of directors, and David Zelesne, president of Owen Steel Co. Inc., Columbia, S.C., as the new vice chair. Both were elected to two-year terms during AISC’s annual meeting in Chicago last month. In addition, the board welcomes two new directors: Hollie Noveletsky, CEO of Novel Iron Works Inc., Greenland, N.H., and Robert A. Simon, vice president of structural products at Steel Dynamics Inc., Columbia City, Ind.
Thompson previously served as board vice chair and succeeds Jeffrey E. Dave, P.E., president and CEO of Dave Steel Co. Inc., Asheville, N.C., as chair. Dave, who will continue to serve on the board, commented, “My two years as AISC chair have been very rewarding, and I’m very excited about the future of AISC. The board and our membership have elected two highly qualified people to lead our industry. Jim Thompson’s work as vice chair, along with his industry experience has readied him for the responsibility. And our new vice chair, David Zalesne, brings the demonstrated experience, commitment, knowledge and leadership to carry on the past two years’ success and build on them with new vision. In addition to his general industry knowledge, David has been and will continue to be a strong advocate for our industry engagement with important issues in Washington D.C.”
Thompson brings to the position more than 40 years of experience in steel fabrication and erection. His expertise includes sales, estimating, production management, operations management and administration management. He grew up in numerous locations in the U.S. and Europe and graduated from Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. While at TCU he was enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and at graduation was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. After serving five years as a pilot, he left the service in 1974 and immediately went to work at Palmer Steel Supplies. He began as a steel detailer and ascended to general manager after several years in management training. In 1984 he became president of the company and obtained ownership several years later. He has also served the McAllen community as a director on several local boards. In 2007 he joined the AISC board of directors and has served on various committees.
“I’m very excited about beginning my term as chair of AISC,” added Thompson. “I’m looking forward to continue working with our excellent board of directors and the AISC staff. My years on the board have been a tremendous experience, exposing me to the numerous benefits of AISC. My goal in the next two years will be to encourage our members to become more involved in their association. The strength of our organization lies in the talent of our staff and industry volunteers. We have a trade association equal to none and with the participation of all our members we will meet our goal of making structural steel the material of choice on construction projects.”
Zalesne has served as an AISC board member for 10 years and is also an appointed member of the Industry Trade Advisory Committee for the steel industry. Prior to becoming president of Owen Steel Company in 2004, he practiced law as a partner in the Litigation Department of Klehr, Harrison in Philadelphia, and also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the eastern district of Pennsylvania. He has also served on the boards of several local business and community organizations. He received a bachelor’s degree in international relations and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and his law degree from Emory University School of Law.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work closely with Jim Thompson and the AISC board and staff during the next two years addressing the challenges and opportunities for the American structural steel industry, ” said Zalesne. “AISC has built a great brand on technical expertise, research, certifications, codes and manuals, and marketplace activities, and has attracted some really talented and dedicated people to its staff, its board and its committees. My commitment as part of the leadership team going forward is to continue to look for ways to deliver value to our members, and continue to build a climate where our members can earn fair returns on their investments of capital, time and business risk to deliver the high-quality structural steel projects that define skylines, infrastructure and landscapes across America.”
Noveletsky and Simon will immediately begin serving on the board, assisting with the AISC’s planning and leadership in the steel construction industry. “Two industry leaders have been elected to the board of directors,” added Dave. “Hollie Noveletsky brings great overall knowledge of the steel fabricating industry and community leadership, and the election of Robert Simon continues a commitment by Steel Dynamics to help shape the future of our industry.”
Noveletsky started working at Novel Iron Works while enrolled at Lawrence University, where she began studying engineering before switching her path of study to nursing. She worked summers in Novel’s computer department and then in the estimating department while in graduate school at Boston University. She also holds a post-master’s certificate in psychiatric nursing from MGH Institute of Health Professions, and a doctorate of philosophy in nursing research from Boston College. After her father, who was president of Novel, passed away in 1999, she stepped into the company full-time. She also joined the Steel Fabricators of New England (SFNE) and eventually became president, where she spearheaded a change of the organizational structure. Additionally, she maintains her own geriatric psychiatry practice and also volunteers with various natural disaster relief efforts.
As vice president for Steel Dynamics, Simon is responsible for the structural and rail division in Columbia City, Ind., as well as for Steel of West Virginia in Huntington, W.Va. He joined Steel Dynamics in 2013 following a 20-year career with EVRAZ North America. He is a former chairman of the Steel Manufacturers Association, and received a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from West Virginia University. He has also served on numerous boards for the communities he’s been part of, most recently the Fort Wayne Philharmonic board of directors.