James P. Bouchard is the founder and chairman of Esmark Inc., and its predecessor and controlling shareholder, the Bouchard Group. The Bouchard Group, which was formed in 1995 with an initial $500 investment, is still 100 percent privately owned by Mr. Bouchard. Over the years, the Bouchard Group has grown and evolved into a diversified VC Investment Holding Company, with strategic assets engaged in the Industrial, Energy, Technology, Real Estate, and Commodities industries, along with assets in Youth Sports and Development.
Mr. Bouchard retired as CEO on November 23, 2023, after more than 40 years in the steel industry. He remains chairman, overseeing all charitable contributions. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Board of Esmark Inc., Esmark Steel Group, Inc., and the Bouchard Group, he is Co-Chairman of Ohio Coatings Company (OCC) in Yorkville, Ohio.
Esmark and the Bouchard Group’s roots are firmly planted in the steel industry. In 2003, the company acquired two Chicago area steel services companies, Electric Coating Technologies and Sun Steel. The acquisitions served as the genesis for Mr. Bouchard to found and rebrand the legendary Fortune 50 Esmark name into the new Esmark Inc. II in 2003, with a focus on steel company acquisitions. Mr. Bouchard subsequently transferred his Bouchard Group steel assets and capitalized the new Esmark II in 2004.
In 2007, he and his management team successfully completed the first hostile reverse merger in the history of the United States, with the merger of Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corporation (formerly NASDAQ: WPSC) and Esmark II. Mr. Bouchard served as chairman and chief executive officer of the iconic Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation in 2006, before completing the merger with Esmark in 2007. He then built Esmark II into a publicly traded (formerly NASDAQ: ESMK), $3 billion company before it was ultimately sold to OAO Severstal for $1.3 billion in August 2008.
Through the Bouchard Group, Mr. Bouchard later repurchased the Esmark name, trademark, and intellectual property from OAO Severstal. Revitalizing the Esmark name and respective brand for the third time, he founded Esmark Inc. III in October of 2008, with no revenue and one employee. The Bouchard Group is Esmark’s III controlling shareholder. Esmark III is one of the nation’s fastest growing companies with assets exceeding $200 million. With its diverse portfolio of companies, Esmark III generates approx. $500 million in annual revenue.
Prior to founding Esmark, Mr. Bouchard was Vice President-Commercial for U.S. Steel in Europe, residing in Kosice, Slovak Republic. He was a member of the executive team that U.S. Steel dispatched to Kosice after having acquired the Slovakian National Steel Company (VSZ).
Mr. Bouchard was widely credited with the successful commercial restructuring, implementation, and subsequent growth strategy of the company’s European sales, marketing, strategic planning, and customer service initiatives, and he was ultimately responsible for the company’s commercial operations in 42 countries. The Kosice operation became the most profitable steel asset owned by U.S. Steel at that time.
During his 40-year career, Mr. Bouchard has served on the Board of Directors of a number of steel industry organizations and companies, including the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) in Washington, D.C. He also formerly served on the C.D.E. committee for Eurofer in Brussels, Belgium, and the Board of Directors for Wheeling-Nisshan Steel Corporation and Ohio Coatings Company.
In addition, he previously served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Loyola University-Chicago and Robert Morris University, while teaching as an Entrepreneurial Management Instructor at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business. He was on the Board of Directors for several Pittsburgh-based organizations, including FC Pittsburgh Soccer Club, the Imani Christian Academy, the Quaker Valley Hockey Association, and the City of Champions for Haiti humanitarian group.
Mr. Bouchard was also the chairman and majority owner of Johnstown Sports Partners LLC and majority owner of the NAHL’s Johnstown Tomahawks Hockey Team in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, prior to selling the team in 2023. He also previously served on PA Senator Pat Toomey’s Finance Committee. Mr. Toomey was the chairman of the United States of America Senate Finance Committee.
Mr. Bouchard has received numerous industry and philanthropic awards for his accomplishments and contributions. In 2005, he was nominated and named as an Illinois Finalist of the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In March 2006, the Association of Steel Distributors bestowed their highest honor on him as “Steel Man of the Year.” In 2007, he was inducted into the Hinsdale Central High School Hall of Fame — the youngest inductee in the history of the school — and is a recipient of the Hinsdale Central James Carmanani Award. Mr. Bouchard was also honored by Loyola University as the 2007/2008 recipient of the Chicago Damen Award for distinguished alumni. And in 2010, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International for his humanitarian relief efforts during the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. In 2012, Mr. Bouchard was named Sewickley, Pennsylvania’s “Man of the Year,” for his ongoing support of multiple children’s charities, youth sports and development programs, and other humanitarian organizations throughout Western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh’s inner city. Also in 2012, Mr. Bouchard was named a finalist for “CEO of the Year” by global publishing concern Platts International and subsidiary Steel Business Briefing, for his years of leadership, vision, and innovation in the steel industry. He is a part of the Pittsburgh City of Champions Hall of Fame and the Quaker Valley Hall of Fame.
James P. Bouchard’s family, along with the Esmark family of companies, continue to be tireless supporters of a wide range of educational, family health, and wellness youth sports and recreation programs. These programs have helped communities in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Haiti, and includes the Helen E. Bouchard Scholarship Award (totaling $500,000 to 75 recipients), which has surpassed $10 million in donations since 2003.
Mr. Bouchard graduated from Loyola University’s Chicago School of Business and holds United States patent 4,373,955 for his invention of a lightweight insulating concrete.
Mr. Bouchard is the proud father of five children.
Carolyn Bouchard Keegan (Natalie, Clayton, Aubrey)
Heisa Bouchard Ferrer (James, Robert)