WELLSBURG - Staffileno's On The River owner Ronnie Staffileno was looking to build business when he commissioned locally owned and operated American Muscle Dock & Fabrication to build a floating dock to compliment his Wellsburg restaurant and lounge.
American Muscle CEO Luke Diserio was looking to change the mindset of the dock-building industry when he incorporated add-ons like red LED lights, handcrafted solar-illuminated piling caps, composite decking, handrails and metal flashings into his design.
Both of them got exactly what they wanted.
RIVER AWASH WITH COLOR — The reflection of LED lights off metal flashing set the Ohio River awash with color at Staffileno’s On the River in Wellsburg. American Muscle Docks & Fabrication designed the innovative new dock system. -- Contributed
"I just wanted docks, but they came to me with a kicked-up version," Staffileno said. "I guess you could say they made me an offer I couldn't refuse."
He said the floating dock already has redefined his weekend business.
"It turned Saturday and Sunday afternoons from dead time into prosperous times," he said. "Boats will tie up to each other, or you'll see one boater waiting for another to pull out. And the beauty of it is, the majority of the boats coming in here have Ohio licenses, so they're new customers."
American Muscle came into being in March after Valley Manufacturing, a fabrication company established in 1963, acquired the former Follansbee Dock Systems from the Steubenville-based Louis Berkman Co. Valley Manufacturing had been sole-supplier to Follansbee Dock Systems, something neither company had publicized prior to the acquisition.
Diserio said his father had been mulling the possibilities for years, "even when we were just making parts for Follansbee Dock Systems." So when the Berkman Co. put Follansbee Steel and its various divisions up for sale in January, they jumped at the opportunity to buy the company.
"Now that he owns it and we can sell it, he thought it looked like a good idea," he said. "It just looks cool, very different."
The reflection of the red LED lights creates a blaze of late night color in the waters of the Ohio River, he noted. The metal flashing and composite decking only add to the effect, as do the hand-crafted piling caps, which incorporate solar lights as well as advertising signs designed by his brother, Kurt.
"It's like an art piece," he said.
Diserio said his goal was to dress up docks "in a way that hasn't been done before." The work was done entirely in-house, and he said everything is customizable.
Best of all, once done it's very low maintenance.
"We turned what was a dock that served a purpose into a dock that not only served a purpose, but looks cool and is a marketing avenue for the business," Diserio said. "It dresses it up and they can benefit from it, too. It's the little (subtle) touches that make a huge difference."
American Muscle, now located on the old Blue Moon drive-in property on Washington Pike outside Wellsburg, has 19 full-time employees, which means they've more than tripled the work force since the Follansbee Dock acquisition. Diserio said they're already "about halfway through another dock project."
Staffileno, for his part, said he couldn't be happier with the results and he's already thinking ahead to Phase 2, though he's not ready to say exactly what that might entail.
"There hasn't been a boater that's come in that hasn't said it's the best dock on the river," he added. "It's easy for us to say it's really nice, but the fact that boaters are saying it gives it credibility. And besides the (increased) revenue, there's the exposure I'm getting. Since it first went in people have been coming just to look at it. It's brought a lot of attention to the restaurant."
(Harris can be contacted at email@example.com.)