This Manufacturer Makes Millions Machining Parts, But His Favorite Project? Making This Can Opener.

By Jeffrey Bonior
John J. Steuby makes America’s only Made in USA can opener. | Amazon

The EZ-DUZ-IT can opener was developed in 1962 and has been in production ever since.

Describing the manufacturing life of John J. Steuby is like opening a can of beans – if the can is opened with a manual hand-held can opener.

Steuby is 92 years old and has been in the manufacturing business for 57 years. He is the owner and CEO of John J. Steuby Company, a family-owned and operated manufacturing facility that specializes in producing precision machined products for everything from the automotive to the defense industries.

His company specializes in contract work for other manufacturers and retailers except for the EZ-DUZ-IT hand-held can opener. That’s his baby.

“It started out as the EZ-DUZ-IT can opener in 1962,” said the feisty manufacturing veteran. “We make component parts for large and small companies. The only product we make of our own is the can opener. That’s year-round.”

The Steuby Co. profits are generated from all the contract work he supplies for other manufacturers and the U.S. government. He takes pride in the thousands of parts his company has supplied creating these products but closest to his heart is his Made in USA E-DUZ-IT can opener. It is the foundation for his company and may just be what keeps him going at 92 making important American-made parts for a bevy of industries.

John J. Steuby has been in manufacturing for 57 years.

Located in Hazelwood, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, the company uses hundreds of precision manufacturing machines to produce top-quality parts in vital American industries which also include aerospace, appliance, medical, ordinance, oil and gas, energy, hydraulics, plumbing, hardware and commercial fitting industries.

“I started working in my father’s small machine shop in high school,” said Steuby. “When I graduated from high school I could not get into college because I wasn’t a veteran, so I joined the Marine Corps just in time to get the GI Bill of Rights.”

After completing his duty in the Marine Corps, Steuby enrolled and graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

“I went to a great engineering school, IIT,” said Steuby. “You’ve heard of MIT. Well, we’re IIT on the south side of Chicago. I’m a graduate mechanical engineer and you need that type of information to run this type of business.”

After college, he was employed at Caterpillar in East Peoria and eventually went back to work for his father.

“I ran his business, the screw machine shop business, for nine years,” said Steuby. “My brother came into the business and I was kind of pushed out so I left and started my own business which included the Made in USA can opener.

“I’ve had five different locations, restarted the business five times with each time getting bigger. We are doing about $15 million in business.”

John J. Steuby Co. is involved in so much of what America makes it is one of the largest and most diversified plants in the Midwestern United States that receives raw material and ships finished products to every major area of the country. More than 125 employees, running two shifts in a 144,000-square-foot facility, gives John J. Steuby Co. the capacity to produce nearly any machined product you require at a competitive price.

But as time goes by and engineering and manufacturing improve, there generally is that one successful product that remains close to your heart and soul. It’s that successful part or product that kickstarts your business and makes it sustainable. 

At John J. Steuby Co., amid thousands of feet of precision products at the Hazelwood facility, it is the simple hand-powered can opener that certainly has removed the lid off of thousands of tin cans. After use, you just clean the opener and stick it in the kitchen drawer. It does not clutter extra counter space like an electric can opener does. 

“Other than the can opener, everything else is shipped to somebody and they put it in their product. We’re known as a job shop, a screw machine job shop. We do everything. We do everything on a bid basis.

“They show us a blueprint, we quote it, we get it, we run it and we may get repeat orders, or we may not.”

The John J. Steuby factory is located adjacent to the St. Louis Airport (Lambert International) which allows for quick distribution. The company does build thousands of small parts for jet aircraft, but it is not in the business of manufacturing the latest innovations that keep Americans flying the friendly skies.

“No, that is a whole different field,” said Steuby.

As for the stalwart can opener, it is regarded as the best on the market, competing with many poorly made products from China.

“We buy our steel for the can opener from a company that operates in Granite City named Custom Steel,” he said. “Everything we buy that we use in our manufacturing, we make here locally or get steel from U.S. Steel.”

The EZ-DUZ-IT can openers come with a choice of four different colored handles – black and, of course, red, white and blue to celebrate manufacturing that is Made in the USA. It retails for $9 to $13 depending on place of purchase. It is available at most major retail stores and online through Amazon.

Editor's Note: Blogs like this one are intended to highlight companies that support American jobs and that make great products in the United States. We rely on companies we feature to provide accurate information regarding their domestic operations and their products. Each company is individually responsible for labeling and advertising their products according to applicable standards, such as the Federal Trade Commission's "Made in USA" standard or California's "Made in USA" labeling law. We do not review individual products for compliance or claim that company products comply with specific labeling or advertising standards. Our focus is on supporting companies that create American jobs.