Oklahoma entrepreneur known as ‘The Man of Steel’ turns 100

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A violinist, a soldier and an entrepreneur… Those are just three of the lives one Oklahoma man has lived in his 100 years.

Al Karchmer will achieve a milestone on Monday: He is becoming a centenarian.

Al Karchmer, 'The Man of Steel'
Oklahoma entrepreneur known as ‘The Man of Steel’ turns 100. (Photo: KFOR)

While many feel in awe when they look back on Karchmer’s life, he, instead, is looking forward to what comes next.

There is a reason he is called ‘The Man of Steel.’ Even at 100 years old, Karchmer goes to work. You will find him at his desk inside International Pipe & Supply, a company he started in 1978.

“Like anything new, you start from scratch and do what you have to do: everything,” said Karchmer. “And gradually, build up a company if you work at it.”

He was 57 then, and had already lived what seemed to be many lives… From studying to be a concert violinist at The Julliard School, to being drafted in WWII.

“I went over seas right after basic training to the Pacific,” said Karchmer. “Saw the country, did a little work and eventually got shipped back to the States.”

His two and a half years in the service earned him the Bronze Star Medal. 

Karchmer, always looking toward the future, then attended business school at the University of Oklahoma.

Afterward, he headed west, living in Los Angeles for two decades, before eventually returning to his home state. Karchmer spent some time working in his family’s business before deciding it was time to be a boss of his own.

“He borrowed $10,000 from a family member and was right at 57 years old starting the company and soon to have a son at home as a single father,” said Don Karchmer, Al’s son.

From humble beginnings, to now a multigenerational company in three locations across the U.S. Karchmer and son have made it happen.

“My relationship with him goes way deeper than a work relationship,” said Don. “I wouldn’t trade these 35 years for any other business or opportunity.”

Karchmer’s courage and passion for life has made an impression on his grandson, Sam.

“I do feel like a lot of who I am today and the man I’m growing into becoming is because of my grandfather and the life lessons he’s instilled in me,” said Sam Karchmer. “He’s just a very wise and unique person, and I really value him and the role he’s played in my life.”

Several people have sent out their congratulations to Karchmer for reaching the 100 year milestone, from President Trump and First Lady Melania, Governor Kevin Stitt and Mayor David Holt.

There was also a drive-by parade for Karchmer on Sunday, where family, friends and service members celebrated him.

KFOR would also like to wish a very happy birthday to Mr. Al Karchmer.

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