Scrap Metal Recycler Works Hard to Succeed in Current Down Market

📅   Fri September 15, 2017 - Northeast Edition #19


The DX300LC-3 has the power to handle substantial loads of scrap metal.
The DX300LC-3 has the power to handle substantial loads of scrap metal.

When David Feinberg, a veteran in the scrap metal industry, formed a partnership in 2011 with Eric Bell, an industry newcomer, the outlook for their new venture looked solid.

The young company — Philadelphia Metal and Resource Recovery — had an excellent location near Interstate 95, in an industrial section of Philadelphia. Feinberg previously operated a similar business at the same 4-acre site and was well known among a large group of buyers and sellers. The market for ferrous and non-ferrous metals was strong. To get the enterprise off to a good start, the owners purchased a new Doosan crawler excavator that proved to be a hard-working, durable machine.

Everything pointed to the company becoming a serious player in the scrap metal and recycling business in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. That is exactly what happened. Five years later, Philadelphia Metal is one of the area's premier metal-broker processing firms — in spite of how the market has evolved and how metal prices tumbled.

During the time the company has been in business, prices for all commodities have dropped, some as much as 75 percent, according to Feinberg. Philadelphia Metal, like other firms in the industry, has reduced operating hours and staff.

“So far, that is all we have been forced to do,” Feinberg said. “Hopefully, better times are ahead.”

Philadelphia Metal is a full-service enterprise that purchases, processes, packages, brokers and sells all grades of metal. Some ferrous materials are sold to steel mills, others to exporters. Non-ferrous materials are sold to either larger brokers or directly to consumers.

The company is a big believer in intelligent resource management and reusing metals, as a way to protect the planet's natural resources, divert metals from sanitary landfills and help customers' recycling efforts.

“Our industrial clients like the fact that we aid in managing their scrap in a way that they can realize some profit,” Feinberg said. “We are always looking for any reusable materials that can be sold.”

Excavator Choices

Several months before starting the new company, the partners decided a new crawler excavator was necessary to execute their strategic plan that focused on service. They wanted to get customers in and out efficiently; sort and process materials fast and move them out quickly.

“While evaluating several different machines, I learned that some others in our business had good success with the Doosan brand,” Feinberg said. “I knew from previous experience that the local dealer had a good reputation. Eventually we focused our research on Doosan crawler excavators, specifically the DX300LC-3. It was very price-competitive and, from everything we could tell, it was comparable in quality to other leading similar-size products.”

For Feinberg and Bell, the excavator had to excel in durability and cost of operation. The DX300LC-3 was the perfect fit, and so was the second DX300LC-3 they purchased a year later. The company also owns a Doosan DX210W wheel excavator that is located at a satellite operation.

“We need machines that can survive — and thrive — in a dirty, rugged environment,” Feinberg said. “Those two DX300LC-3s have been dependable workhorses. They load trailers, process and separate scrap throughout the day. That's all they do and they do it well.”

Cost-of-operation items — such as fuel efficiency, maintenance and parts expenses, and downtime — are critical factors that help the owners of Philadelphia Metal evaluate the value of their equipment.

“The Doosan excavators have lived up to our expectations,” Feinberg said. The DX300LC-3 has easy access to key checkpoints, cooling system and other critical components, which according to Feinberg, makes daily preventive maintenance easy. Both are paired with a grapple attachment to lift and sort material delivered to the facility, and they are outfitted with special guarding on the front and top of the cab for additional protection.

All of the equipment was purchased through Doosan financing programs, a process Feinberg said was “very easy to work with.”

The DX300LC-3 crawler excavator stands out in a lineup of 25 to 30 ton (28 to 33 t) machines. The unit has the power to handle substantial loads of scrap metal, an important factor at the Philadelphia Metal facility.

“We try to focus our efforts on providing a good customer experience,” Feinberg said. “That means competitive pricing, easy access to our yard and no waiting for traffic or equipment. Our two Doosan excavators keep moving materials around our location so space is always available for the next load coming through the gate.”

ISRI: Organization “Helpful” to Scrap Metal Recycling Members

Even though David Feinberg has been involved in the scrap metal and recycling business for more than two decades, he is always eager to keep up-to-date about the industry. One of the best sources of information, he says, is the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), a Washington D.C.-based trade association.

“It is a great organization,” said the co-owner of Philadelphia Metal and Resource Recovery. “Over the years, they have been helpful and, as a member, I have benefited from their good educational programs and publications. They provide top-notch representation in Washington and their trade shows are outstanding. Overall, it is very worthwhile to be a member.”

The ISRI membership consists of manufacturers and processors, brokers and industrial consumers of scrap commodities, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, paper, electronics, rubber, plastics, glass and textiles. Associate members include equipment and service providers to the scrap recycling industry.

The association represents more than 1,600 for-profit firms — ranging from small, family-owned businesses to large, multi-national corporations — operating at more than 1,500 facilities in the United States and 34 countries worldwide.

For more information about ISRI, visit the organization's website: www.isri.org.

This story was reprinted with permission from Doosan's DoMORE Magazine, Winter 2017 edition.