Steve Malley

Work Hard and Success Will Follow

Driving down the Beltway in the Washington DC area, a driver is sure to see signs of the ongoing construction efforts to reduce the traffic and congestion that the area is known for. The many cones, barriers, barricades, and signs that make those efforts possible are primarily supplied by one company, locally headquartered National Capital Industries, helped run by Steve Malley, it’s Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Founded over 50 years ago, National Capital started as a provider of road construction services. In 1980, the business began specializing in the sale and rental of road construction safety equipment, providing the materials needed to build roads, parking lots and garages, and ensuring that contractors have what’s needed to help save lives and lessen work zone injuries.

With a relatively small staff and locations within 50 miles of one another, National Capital’s size belies its success. Having fewer than 40 employees across 3 locations in the DC metro area and bringing in revenue close to $20 million annually, National Capital has certainly created a niche with its specialization.

Recently the company’s progress has been hampered by changes in government agency funding. A Bill was passed in 2005 which provided funding for federal highways, but it expired in 2009, which has impacted highway construction.

“Once the Bill was passed,” Steve explains, “there was an immediate decrease in road fatalities by 8% and it’s continually gone down since then because of the funding of projects that helped work zones become a safer place for the workers. Unfortunately, that expired two years ago, and the government has kept putting a band-aid on it. The extension was going to expire this year but they put another 6 month extension on it which will expire March 30, 2012. So, the federal government is still funding highways and giving money to the states to complete road extensions and repairs, but we need a long term Bill in place to continue funding highway projects that will make it safer to drive and function in work zones.”

Starting at the company in 2005 as a controller, Steve quickly rose to the position of CFO.

“When they offered me the position, they were reluctant since I had no construction industry experience, but I have proven myself,” Steve describes, “The controller that I replaced was a wonderful person who did a great job in accounting, but he didn’t know payroll tax regulations. After I started, I discovered some issues with previous year’s taxes and I worked extensively with the Internal Revenue Service, the District of Columbia, the Maryland Department of Taxation, and the Virginia Department of Taxation and saved the company about $475,000 in fines and penalties.”

Steve’s discovery not only saved the company financially, but reflected his steadfast dedication to hard work and commitment. A dedication that was rewarded when, due to the unfortunate loss of their President in 2009, the company promoted Steve to Senior Vice President.

Steve’s proven success and ever increasing responsibility was not unique to his work at National Capital. His first job out of college was working for a small chain of pet stores with 7 retail locations. Hired as its controller, Steve was quickly thrust into leadership when the current controller quit while training him.

“The president of the company came in and said, ‘She left you on your own’ and I thought, ‘oh my gosh, what am I going to do? I’m fresh out of school with a brand new job and I have no idea what I’m doing’.”

Steve quickly figured it out and the company grew from 7 to 44 stores during his 21 year tenure. Unfortunately, the company’s success did not last as large pet store chains became popular in the late ‘80s and drove the smaller retail stores out of business. The company was forced to file bankruptcy and the president of the company stepped down.

“Because of the bankruptcy, we closed quite a few locations, everything but 17 of the 44 stores. And at that time the new president came into my office and told me that they couldn’t afford to keep me on staff. My first job out of college and I had worked there for 21 and a half years. I just sat there thinking, ‘I’ve got a wife and 2 small children. I’ve got a house payment’. I had never had to look for a job, especially with so much responsibility. I was scared to death.”

Steve’s wife was extremely supportive and he began searching for positions in the immediate area but couldn’t find anything suitable. After taking a one year contract position in Portland, Oregon, which, due to the weather, didn’t work for the family, Steve sought out positions in the DC area, close to family.

Hired by a company called Professional Controllers, as a recruiter for temporary financial staff and to bring in new clients, Steve soon felt the desire to seek out another position, more in alignment with his goals for the future. Soon thereafter, Steve was hired by National Capital.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Steve learned the importance of hard work at a young age. With a genealogy full of strong men and women who worked hard and valued family, Steve inherited a legacy of success.

“My grandfather came over to the United States from Poland around 1910 with the intention of earning enough money to bring my grandmother and their kids over. When he had saved enough money to send for them, World War I broke out and they couldn’t come. My father had a brother and a sister and while they went to school, their mother would take water to the front lines in Poland to the soldiers. That’s how she earned a living in Poland to survive and earn enough money to feed the family. It wasn’t until 1920 when my father was able to come over to this country with my grandmother. At that time my father was 14.”

After Steve’s father finished secondary school, he joined the Navy, and when his service was up, he joined the Air Force, becoming a pilot.

“My father wanted to be a pilot and he worked hard and he got his wings. Then his ear drum blew out and he couldn’t fly. He would never fly again. So he was released from the Air Force and joined the Army. In total he served the country for 14 years.”

After leaving the Army, Steve’s father took a job at a company called Peoples’ Liquor. They were purchased by another liquor chain and Steve’s father stayed with that company until his death. He worked there for 25 years.

“He loved that job and he was a hard worker,” Steve speaks of his dad, “He worked 6 days a week but he was still a family man. Family was very important. He would work one week on the morning shift and one week on the evening shift and if he worked mornings, we’d always have dinner together, and if he worked evenings, we would have breakfast together as a family. It was just important to him that we sat and ate as a family.”

Steve also learned the importance of commitment and character through his mother. A stay-at-home mom, Steve recalls a particularly poignant memory when she taught him a life lesson.

“I learned a lot of work ethic from my mom as well. One instance in particular, I was probably 8 years old and my sister was sick with a cold and she wasn’t going to school that day. I was all dressed and ready to go to school but I wondered why my sister got to stay home when I couldn’t.  I remember saying, ‘Mom, I don’t think I want to go to school today because I don’t feel well’. My mom kind of knelt down and just held me by my shoulders and looked me in the eye and said, ‘You know Steven, if you’re really not sick you should go to school. You have a commitment. If you’re supposed to go to school then that’s your commitment. Your father has a commitment to go to work and if he didn’t go to work you wouldn’t have shoes to wear, we wouldn’t have food on the table; we wouldn’t have a roof over our head. He has a commitment and he adheres to that commitment. You don’t see him staying home sick because somebody else stays home sick. You need to go to school.”

Needless to say, Steve went to school that day.

That strong work ethic has stayed with Steve his entire life, spurning him to work harder and perform better at all that he does.

“Early in my career I was usually the first one at work and the last one to leave.” Steve recalls, “I regret working as many long hours because I missed things with my kids early on. But I’m making up for it now. And don’t get me wrong, we had a great family life, we went on family trips together and we had fun on the weekends but there are things that I really wish that I’d seen, like the first steps that my kids took, or their first tooth coming out. But we do things together now and it’s important to me that we have dinner together every night. That’s something that has stayed with me. I’m still the first one at the office in the morning but I make sure I’m home early enough that we can all sit down together as a family and have dinner.”

A loyal, hard worker and devoted family man Steve Malley has worked his way to the top. With a family legacy that reflects the American Dream, and a work ethic that mirrors that dream, Steve Malley proves that if you work hard you will be a success.

Steve Malley

Gordon J Bernhardt


President and founder of Bernhardt Wealth Management and author of Profiles in Success: Inspiration from Executive Leaders in the Washington D.C. Area. Gordon provides financial planning and wealth management services to affluent individuals, families and business owners throughout the Washington, DC area. Since establishing his firm in 1994, he and his team have been focused on providing high quality service and independent financial advice to help clients make informed decisions about their money.

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