In 2016 B.L. Duke, Forest View, Illinois, pivoted its go-to-market strategy to accommodate its customers needs and opened its second location in Joliet, with barge access. With its optimal river location and company size, the company is able to adapt quickly to stay competitive.
The company has been named one of Crains Fast Fifty for growth over a five-year period. And it has been continuing that momentum. In 2017 B.L. Duke increased its sales revenue by 65% while retaining 98% repeat customers. The company also acquired the Gerdau Rolling Mill next to its Joliet campus. The Joliet location, on the Des Plaines river and near major highways, has helped B.L. Dukes ability to plan for the addition of new products and services that will allow it to pass along even more conveniences to its customers.
B.L. Duke is also one of the first metal scrap companies in the Chicago area to invest in real-time GPS tracking technology, enabling it to track the location of its drivers, get load details and to receive notifications via email when each trip is complete. In addition, the company is developing a portal that will provide increased transparency, giving customers greater access to such information as weights, real-time images and load values.
This complements B.L. Dukes already very responsive customer service, including the ability of customers to schedule pick-ups via LiveChat, the companys website, phone, email or text. In addition to being very transparent, B.L. Duke averages an 18-hour turnaround time on pickup requests and meets or exceeds 99% of its payment terms.
It has also added 13 trucks, hired new drivers and built a new maintenance shop to meet new 2018 Illinois Department of Transportation regulation changes, help manage operating costs and better maintain its fleet.
Ferrous Processing & Trading Company
With roots stretching back over 100 years in both the United States and Canada, independent metals scrap processor Ferrous Processing & Trading Co (FPT) has long been held in high regard by its scrap dealer associates and suppliers, its industrial/automotive supply base and its network of scrap-consuming mills.
Over the years FPT has been recognized for developing and implementing new scrap processing technologies, support by its substantial in-house engineering expertise and fabrication capabilities. Just in the past year it has increased its capacity to sort, process and ship high-quality aluminium scrap from auto stamping plants for optimal remelting applications by 28%, while also improving its processing technology for automated sorting of auto shredder residue, resulting in a 30% reduction in non-metal contamination.
The company has also tightened its internal procedures to meet a broader range of consumer specifications and expanded its process control system to focus on minimizing unwanted residuals in its delivered scrap. It is one of the first North American scrap companies with a certified quality management system currently ISO 9001.
FPT has also developed a number of specialty remelting products for mills and foundries, including dense cast iron briquettes, nuggetized, low-residual auto feed coolant for argon oxygen decarburization (AOD) and ladle refining applications, and custom-processed aluminium auto-body scrap.
FPT has also increased its fleet of captive rail cars by 14% over the past year to support greater on-time shipments into existing, as well as new, consumers and has made eight new staff additions in its management and commercial training programs to help to ensure its leadership into the future.
It also has an outstanding employee safety record and has responsible environmental stewardship, including professional site design, landscaping and groundwater management and low-noise, low-emission, electric-powered material handling.
Liberty Iron & Metal, Inc
A pure-play metal recycling company, Liberty Iron & Metal, Inc tailors its services to meet its customers needs, whether in terms of services provided, product quality or delivery times, enabling it to provide value-added services to its customers.
In addition, Phoenix, Arizona-based Libertys relationships with overseas affiliates, including Scholz Group in Europe and Chiho Environmental Group in Asia, allows it to observe those companies best practices and approaches and to apply them at its own yards when appropriate.
At the end of 2016 Liberty began to streamline its organizational structure and to optimize its corporate governance with the goal of significantly reducing inefficiencies and creating clear boundaries for the new company. This new organizational structure, the alignment of interests through the establishment of a new incentive scheme and the reshaping of its business model to make the company an efficient operator, has increased the financial and operational transparency and steering capabilities of the company. It has also helped Liberty to realize certain synergies between the yard operations to leverage existing process capabilities.
In line with the scrap recycling industry trend for consolidation, Liberty has been taking a proactive approach, constantly looking for add-on acquisitions to increase its competitiveness in the markets in which it operates. Liberty has also been making significant information technology (IT) investments, including the implementation of the cloud-based ERP system Oracle Netsuite and its use as a company-wide data center.
Liberty has responded to increasingly stringent environmental laws and regulations by implementing a company-wide environment, health and safety (EHS) team to proactively manage and mitigate risks posed by not only existing laws and regulations, but also those that might go into effect in the future.
Likewise, through regular meetings between the company and its partner companies overseas, Liberty has been coordinating its activities to ensure active participation and coordination on potential market shifts.
PSC Metals, Inc
In fiscal 2017 PSC Metals Inc, Mayfield Heights, Ohio, saw its revenue grow by 53% year-on-year. This growth comes after PSC Metals made several operational and managerial changes and combined the efforts of its ferrous and non-ferrous businesses. Its focus upon its management and its sustained long-term strategy has resulted in a transition from a volume-centered marketing approach to a focus upon margins.
These changes have also resulted in a 41% reduction of employee turnover between 2015 and 2017 and year-on-year improvements in commercial performance, including a 6% increase in ferrous shipments, a 46% increase in non-ferrous shipments and a 45% increase in non-ferrous residue shipments.
PSC has also seen a dramatic expansion of shred volume and benefitted from the improved non-ferrous pricing environment. It has also improved its ferrous inventory turns by 24% and its non-ferrous inventory turns by 40% from 2016 to 2017.
The company has also been continually investing in both its equipment and its people to ensure that it continues to produce better quality products. Over the past year this has included a commitment to expand its aluminium shredding capabilities and to diversify its shredded product offerings to meet increasingly demanding customer specifications.
In the past two years it has also invested in mobile equipment in order to minimize maintenance costs. That has included investments in a captive fleet of tractors and trailers and in internal rail car gondolas.
The company has also initiated a number of environmental initiatives. They have included investing $1.25 million in state-of-the-art Ludlum radiation detectors, revamping its refrigerant management program, and instituting a Get the Lead Out program to reduce incoming lead, PCBs, cadmium, fuel, oils and other auto fluids which will improve quality of metals for customers, improve ASR quality and minimize environmental issues and costs associated with pollutants.
Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc
Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc, Portland, Oregon, which is not only a ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals processor but also operates a steel mill, delivered its best financial performance in six years during its 2017 fiscal year, benefitting from better market conditions, increased sales diversification, improved supply volumes, expanded non-ferrous metal recovery and additional benefits from cost savings and productivity improvement initiatives.
This came as its Auto and Metals Recycling (AMR) business unit achieved 10% higher ferrous scrap volumes and 15% better non-ferrous scrap volumes than a year earlier, and its Cascade Steel and Scrap (CSS) unit generated 2% greater finished steel volumes than those in fiscal 2016.
Schnitzer has made several moves to increase the collaboration and integration between and amongst its various businesses. For example, last year it formed CSS, highlighting how the combination of its steel manufacturing and metals recycling operations in Oregon enhance the flexibility and nimbleness of this business and increase its ability to efficiently and effectively service its customers.
The company is committed to operational excellence. For example, in addition to the transparency in external financial reporting and governance that comes from being a public company, it publicly reports on its productivity initiatives and environmental, safety and compliance metrics. It is also very focused upon continuous improvement as a means of delivering a higher level of customer service though greater flexibility and product quality.
This includes technological and process improvement investments to increase the separation and recovery of valuable recycled materials from its shredding process, and to generate more value-added products. Schnitzer maintains that mega-shredders process scrap more efficiently and combined with its advanced non-ferrous separation equipment meet a wide range of specifications for size, shape and purity of the products that it sells.
Several customer service initiatives are also at the forefront of Schnitzers continuous improvement programs. For example, in its metal recycling facilities it has made investments in IT infrastructure that enable online documentation of transactions and delivery times and material grading, providing customers with an enhanced level of transaction visibility and integrity.
Sims Brothers Recycling
Sims Brothers Recycling operates three full-service scrap yards in central Ohio. As part of its long-running relationship with its industrial customers, the company has a core business philosophy to Do What You Say You Will Do.
It provides diverse services for its increasingly complex industrial customer base. This includes offering such value-added services as remote access to its accounting software, giving customers real-time access to shipment and load information, as well as to full recycling audits.
Being a full-service operation enables Sims Brothers to offer customers a variety of value-added processing services, including shearing, torching, shredding, grinding, baling, transportation, plant dismantling and equipment tear-out, ferrous and non-ferrous and non-metallic scrap brokerage services and pick-up and pay services.
Earnings at Sims Brothers ferrous division, which uses a combination of crane shears, stationary shears, torches, balers, sorting, screening and toll processing, has grown substantially over the past seven years, including a 138% year-on-year increase in 2017.
Meanwhile, the firms non-ferrous division, which emphasizes retail customer service and has drive-through access, saw a 274% increase in net profit last year. Earnings at its non-metallics division, which collects, sorts and processes such curbside recyclables as paper, plastic, glass and cardboard, increased by 132% year-on-year.
Sims Brothers, which notes that it is one of the few companies of its size to employ a full-time safety and environmental director, also experienced significant improvements in safety performance. Twelve of its 14 departments/locations have gone a year or more without a lost-time OSHA recordable incident and 7 out of 14 of its departments/locations have gone more than four years without a lost-time OSHA recordable incident.
In addition, Sims Brothers says that it goes beyond regulatory compliance to integrate sound environmental practices into its daily decisions and activities.
Triple M Metal LP
Triple M Metal LP (TMM) has achieved growth and expanded its activities in many ways throughout 2017 by rigorous strategic planning for the future. Based in Brampton, Ontario, the metals recycler, which handles over 3 million tons of ferrous scrap and over 300,000 tons of non-ferrous scrap per year in the US, Canada and Mexico, is embracing change in response to market developments, technology and customer requirements.
With this in mind, last year TMM realigned its business strategy, moving its focus towards process-oriented commodities that is those that it could either add value to or extract value from. This included finding ways to maximize the value of material and to avoid the commoditization of its products.
This has been helped by the new insulated-wire chopping line that TMM recently installed at its Brampton facility, which allows TMM to take items that are generally of lesser value and create a clean product that could be used by both domestic primary and secondary smelters, therefore reducing the need for TMM to export that wire.
As part of this business plan alignment, TMM is looking to find new ways to connect with its customer base, including using non-conventional methods and adapting a new-age approach to communicating TMMs brand. It is doing some rebranding by working on a new website and generating brand content internally through presentations and videos showcasing TMM and its capabilities.
In addition, TMM has been looking for new ways to support its major customers, including setting up shops around them to make more efficient use of transportation resources. At the same time, the company has been cultivating a diverse customer base. TMM has also expanded its supply base by growing both its dealer network and its industrial account base.
W Silver Recycling, Inc
W Silver Recycling, El Paso, Texas, increased its sales by 50% in 2017 and expects to see additional growth this year. The company attributes its success to its flexibility. While it has a ten-year roadmap laying out its future goals, it sees that roadmap more as a guideline, with its various milestones and benchmarks being constantly adjusted and guided by the companys executive staff.
W Silver Recycling says that its executives understand that when conditions on the ground change it is very important to be able to unemotionally walk away from planned investments and, instead, react and adapt to the marketplace.
Last year, however, W Silver Recycling was able to go ahead with its substantial planned investments. This included adding 15 acres to a 10-acre site in Donna, Texas; opening a site in Santa Teresa, New Mexico; opening a second location in Monterrey, Mexico; opening a non-ferrous warehouse in Mexico City; and acquiring two sites one in California and another in New Mexico where greenfield facilities are currently under construction.
In doing so, W Silver has already efficiently grown to be one of the largest private scrap companies in the southern United States, and it still sees a clear path for future growth.
W Silver believes that by the end of this year it will have doubled or even tripled its gross material handling capacity from 2016 levels, while also increasing the number of its workers to almost 400, up from only about 250 two years ago. The company also believes that its employee base will continue to grow substantially in the future.