Employment and Jobs

A High Road Company’s Rapid Response to COVID-19: A Conversation with Marlin Steel President Drew Greenblatt

April 8, 2020  • Economic Opportunities Program

For decades, Baltimore’s Marlin Steel has combined a nimble and innovative manufacturing production system with a commitment to their forty associates – offering above average pay and benefits, employee cross training, and sizable bonuses each pay period for meeting and exceeding production goals. This good company/good job focus pays off in dedicated workers, first-rate quality, happy customers, and admirable growth. In recent weeks, their capacities proved up to an enormous challenge to quickly produce vitally needed equipment to fight against the COVID-19 virus.

Drew Greenblatt, president and owner of Marlin Steel, spoke with Economic Opportunities Program Executive Director Maureen Conway about his company’s efforts in the midst of this crisis. In one example, he explains the opportunity and how the team worked voluntary overtime to meet a customer’s pressing need:

“One of the projects we’re doing to stop this terrible virus is making test tube racks so that companies can evaluate whether or not a patient has COVID… Our first order [was] received at 6:15 on a Friday night, and we had a team stay late until 10:30 Friday night… And then we had a crew of volunteers come in, an army of them, and they were there at 6 a.m. on Saturday, worked all day Saturday, and then came back in again early 6 a.m. Sunday [and] around 1:30 on Sunday they finished. We loaded it on a truck and drove it to the airport, [but] the airline cancelled the flight. So we called an audible, enlisted two fellows, and they drove all night long… and they were there before the facility opened at 9 a.m. in the Midwest, 1,100 miles away.”

Marlin Steel offers a model and good practices that many manufacturing and other employers can aspire to emulate. During this difficult era, they’ve put worker health first – implementing extensive measures to distance, clean facilities and work stations, and screen – while maintaining essential work to deliver essential equipment used in the frontline response to the global pandemic.

The Economic Opportunities Program’s Opportunity in America in-person discussion series is taking a pause as we all do what we can to slow the spread of COVID-19. But the conversations about the changing landscape of economic opportunity in the US and implications for individuals, families, and communities across the country remain vitally important. We hope you will participate as we bring our discussions to you in virtual formats, and we look forward to your feedback.

We are grateful to the Ford Foundation, Prudential Financial, Walmart.org, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, and the Surdna Foundation for their support of Opportunity in America.


For decades, @MarlinSteel has combined good business with good jobs, resulting in dedicated workers, first-rate quality, happy customers, and admirable growth. Now these investments are paying off in the fight against #COVID19.

Overnight, @MarlinSteel transformed itself to making test tube racks for the fight against #COVID19. Drew Greenblatt shares how his company prioritized worker health while delivering vital equipment for the global pandemic.

In this exceptional time, a good company with good jobs is positioned to outperform. Learn how Baltimore’s @MarlinSteel protected its workers while pivoting toward the fight against #COVID19.

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The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

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