Richman Sons Set Sights on Scrap Supremacy With Sennebogen

Fri October 22, 2004 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Bruce Richman had never seen a Sennebogen material handler until late in 2002. But he had looked forward to the day a machine like the Sennebogen 835 R-HD would come along for years before.

Bruce and his brother David are third-generation scrap processors in Philadelphia, PA, sharing duties in the management of S.D. Richman Sons Inc. Bruce is vice-president operations and David is president of the family firm that was founded by their grandfather in 1909. Their combined experience has helped to make Richman Sons one of the four largest metal recycling businesses in the highly competitive Philadelphia market.

“We have been buying our heavy equipment from John McCusker at Edelen & Boyer for 18 years now. John knew I had always hoped that a manufacturer would come onto the scene with a material handler designed from the ground up for scrap handling.

“All of our previous material handlers have been well-built brand name machines, but they all started life as excavators designed to work below grade. I figured a purpose-built machine would allow a lighter machine to do the same work at lower operating cost,” said Bruce.

According to Bruce, adapting an excavator to do lifting jobs creates two problems. First, extra deadweight has to be added to counterbalance high lift loads, which means using more power and more fuel for every move. Second, retrofitting often involves installing third-party components, which can result in complications to service and support.

“John McCusker is a personal friend as well as a trusted supplier. When he told me that Sennebogen had the machine I’d been looking for, I just told him to bring it in,” said Bruce.

A Sennebogen 835 R-HD arrived at the Richman Sons yard a short time later. The 835 R-HD is a 110,000-lb. (49,895 kg) crawler-mounted machine with a lift capacity in the 39,000-lb. (17,690 kg) range.

“Honestly, the first thing I noticed was its color,” Bruce recalled. “The green Sennebogen machine was surprising, even shocking, compared to the ’machine yellow’ you see on all the other equipment in our yard. The next thing I was struck by the overall appearance of the Sennebogen engineering. It looked like a modern, sleek machine with no wasted space. Not that appearances count for anything … but the look created an impression that the machine confirmed when it began to operate.”

The Sennebogen line-up includes a growing range of both crawler-mounted and rubber tired as well as custom-mounted units. While Sennebogen rubber-tired machines have been very successful since their North American launch in 2000, the Richmans chose the crawler version for their first Sennebogen.

The 16-acre Richman Sons site had only 2 acres paved while the rest is uneven dirt and gravel. Bruce felt that a crawler would provide extra stability suitable for the ground conditions in the yard. A second Sennebogen machine soon joined the first, this one an 835 R-HD crawler unit with an optional wider-stance. Bruce noted that his yard had never had anything but crawler-mounted machines and that, too, was a big reason for not getting rubber-tired units at first.

Fitting Into the Fleet

Richman Sons processes approximately 80-percent ferrous and 20-percent non-ferrous metals. They handle a large volume of obsolete scrap, such as piping and equipment, from the five refineries in the area as well as other chemical plants and manufacturers. They also take obsolete consumer goods such as appliances, light industrial scrap such as material offcuts and demolition materials such as I-beams.

The firm operates a sizeable equipment fleet including a high compression baler for the light material, two stationary hydraulic shears and two excavator-mounted mobile shears for sizing heavy scrap, plus a fleet of 10 material handlers. One of the new Sennebogen material handlers is fitted with a magnet for lifting the heavy iron while the other grapples the lighter material.

Richman Sons’ years of experience in the metals markets shows through when Bruce said he is “extremely cost-conscious.” He sees cost management as the one side of business equation that his business can influence proactively.

“Since these machines are fully engineered for material handling jobs right from the get-go, they make a better balanced machine that can handle the work of much heavier machines.”

With fuel efficiency becoming an ever more important cost factor, the 835 R-HD burns approximately 30-percent less fuel than a machine of comparable capacity.

Operating cost also is the reason Bruce said his next machine will be a rubber-tired Sennebogen 835 M. Having seen the crawler machines at work, he is confident that a rubber-tired version would be capable of doing the job without calling for the extra cost of the crawler mount.

“We know we can keep an 835 M busy in most areas of the yard. Once we bring it in, we can get a good look at exactly how much it can really do,” he said.

“The Sennebogen machines are turning out to be very cost-effective. We have been using them less than two years, but we know this is the machine for us.”

Richman also said the people have been “top notch.” He had factory people visit the site and, he said, “They couldn’t have been more customer-oriented. They were very interested in what our needs are and in how to meet our needs. That’s usually not what you see in heavy equipment manufacturers.”

For more information, call S.D. Richman Sons at 215/535-5100 or Sennebogen at 877/309-0099 or visit