Sam and Frank Rosenman, both Russian immigrants, came to the United States in 1915, via Ellis Island. They traveled as far west on the train as their savings would take them, settling in Burlington, Iowa.
Sam married Vinnia Resnick in Burlington, and had their daughter, Ida. Soon they moved on to Ottumwa, Iowa, where son, Eli, and daughter, Faye, were born. Frank married twice, but was not blessed with children.
They started a fledgling peddler business purchasing salvage material across the countryside. The brothers were able to set up their first yard in the 400 block of East Main Street and Rosenman Brothers was born. People would bring salvageable material to their yard to sell for cash.
In 1927, the brothers moved their yard to East Mill Street where they purchased hides and rags in addition to scrap metal. Ida and Eli both worked in the business as children, Ida as bookkeeper, and Eli buying salvage.
Eli was drafted into the Air Force in 1941 attaining the rank of Captain. His Air Force career included time as a bomber gunner, flying 17 forays over the Balkans. For his service to his country, he earned two Bronze Stars. When Eli returned from the war, he continued to work for Sam and Frank.
In 1959, Sam and Frank sold part of their business to Ben Schwartz. A new building and yard was built across the street (currently the Wapello County Engineering Department). The two partners built a successful industrial recycling yard and a new steel distribution warehouse. Eli and Ben remained partners and friends until 1976 when they dissolved their partnership and Rosenman Brothers officially changed to Schwartz Metals.
Two years later Bea, Eli’s wife and business partner, and Eli, started a small brokerage business in their basement, once again working the business that they both loved.
In 1980, with the help of Jim Gibler, a former employee of Schwartz Metals, Rosenman’s Inc. was formed at their current location at 902 East Main Street.
In 1985, Lori Byers joined the team, later followed by Bea’s nephew, Tom Hull, in 1987.
After Bea and Eli’s passing in 2003, the three long time employees purchased the business from the Rosenman’s estate, continuing the tradition of service that started with Sam and Frank Rosenman.
The business is currently under the direction of Tom Hull and Lori Byers.