Mose and Garrison Siskin
Brothers Mose and Garrison Siskin are best remembered as great philanthropists and deeply religious men who worked for the betterment of Chattanooga. At the same time, they successfully ran a multi-million-dollar steel supply company that arose from humble beginnings.
The sons of European immigrants, Mose and Garrison learned early in their lives about hard work through their Judaic heritage. Robert H. and Anna Siskin, their parents, came to Chattanooga in the late 1890s from Lithuania to escape religious persecution.
Robert sold housewares door-to-door, walking throughout a 75-mile radius of their home in west Chattanooga where they had settled. When Mose was only six years old, he sold newspapers on the streets of Chattanooga and was soon joined by Garrison. When their father went to work for a scrap dealer, they made a soapbox wagon and went around the neighborhood collecting junk, bottles, rags and scrap metal.
With $6 and a rented lot at the corner of 19th and Chestnut streets, Robert H. Siskin went into business for himself, starting the Siskin Steel and Supply Company in 1900. It continued to be ably run by Mose and Garrison throughout their lives.
The local company was sold in 1990 to become a part of Los Angeles-based Reliance Steel and Aluminum Co. Siskin Steel and Supply continued to be a privately held metals service center business until its sale to Reliance, supplying customers with stainless and carbon steel, aluminum and alloys. Its business also included metal processing, cutting metals to tolerance and customer specifications. The scrap metal processing unit was sold in the early 1990s. Sales in the fiscal year 1999 totaled $180 million. The brothers, who died in 1978 and 1979, are best known for their work with the disabled, leading to establishment of the Siskin School for Children and the Siskin Rehabilitation Hospital, both in Chattanooga.
Few companies survive 100 years or more, much less flourish as Siskin Steel has. Rarer still is the impact on the lives of the people of Chattanooga made by Mose and Garrison Siskin.