Meet the Artisans at R.J. Leahy

A story about a small, family-owned business making it through 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic is one thing. A company that’s made it through World War II, the dot-com bubble, multiple stock market crashes, and global catastrophes is quite another.

Surely, you say, there’s no such business. Well, friends, let us introduce you to the R.J. Leahy Company, a generational San Francisco business known for high-quality fasteners and metal since 1928.

Founded by Ray Leahy Sr., the company served the growing maritime and military industries in the Bay Area by offering non-ferrous (non-corrosive) fasteners and copper and brass metal products.

The family business grew over the years, and Ray Jr. came in to help his dad. Later, Ray Jr.’s son, daughter, and son-in-law joined the team as well. A small but incredibly friendly and knowledgeable team of three powers today’s R.J. Leahy Company.

Karen Leahy is one of those three. “We’ve been around a long time and we’re so appreciative of the people who come to us because they care about what they’re doing,” she says. “There’s a lot of quality work being done out there and we love being a part of that.”

While the maritime and military industries have nearly disappeared from San Francisco, R.J. Leahy supplies fasteners and metal products to contractors, architects, artisans, and metalsmiths like Todd Pearson Studio Metals and Michael Bondi.

The Leahy and Biro connection dates back to the 1960s. “I remember when they were located on 8th Street, just a few blocks away from our shop,” says Rick Biro. “I used to walk over there to pick up orders during the summer when I was in middle school.”

R.J. Leahy continues to have access to vintage screws in a variety of materials. Most hardware stores only carry Phillips head screws, which don’t match the look of old-fashioned pieces. The company also maintains a large inventory of rivets in hard-to-find materials.

“It’s always interesting to me to see what people do with what we send over,” says Karen with a smile. “I’m not creative in the least, so I love seeing what the Biros do with a piece of brass or copper or even a little screw. It’s fascinating that someone can look at the same thing I’m looking at and envision this grand, artistic, beautiful item.”

“If we run out of material during a project, we know that Leahy will have something that will work,” Rick says. “The quality of the product they have on hand, and their friendly, knowledgeable customer service, makes them one of our most trusted partners.”