Randy Kahlon, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of ABC Recycling, based in Canada talks to Auto Recycling World about how their auto recycling business deals with logistics and of the advantages they gain from community work.
In the beginning
The business was founded in 1912 by Polish-Jewish immigrant, Joseph Yochlowitz. He came to Canada from the Belgium area of Europe in the early 1900s with his family. He began by trading any type of commodity they could get their hands on to make a living.
In the early 1930s, the business became an official salvage company; they then continued to progress into that line of business. In the 1960s, through industrialization in Canada and recycling, they acquired a new facility in the Vancouver area that had a rail spur.
In 1964, Harold Yochlowitz, the current president of the company (and grandson of Joseph), bought a 10-acre site in the Greater Vancouver area for $10,000. By using his intuition, he knew that this site would allow him to go directly to a steel mill, rather than being a middleman; this was considered the launch of what is known today as ABC Recycling.
Growth and expansion
It wasn’t until the fourth generation, David Yochlowitz, the current CEO, who joined the business in 1988, that the company really took off. David decided to start expanding. There were several Vietnamese staff in the yard, and he recognized that one individual -Ken Do, displayed a high level of business acumen, and with the predominance of nonferrous in Asia starting to come up, David decided to bring Ken out of the yard and into the business and start expanding in the nonferrous.
The nonferrous program took off from there, and they went direct to Asia for non-ferrous and even ferrous metals. ABC Recycling began brokering for several other dealers within North America who didn’t have access to the Asian market due to language barriers and a lack of knowledge on exporting to Asia. ABC Recycling continued to grow domestically as well when they purchased a yard on Vancouver Island in 1993 and opened an additional yard in the Greater Vancouver region at the turn of the century.
They continued acquiring businesses which they referred to as feeder yards; loyal suppliers to ABC Recycling selling nonferrous over multiple years. And over time, David began to make strategic partnerships with some of these suppliers to expand the business further to cover a lot of hard to reach regional areas.
With British Columbia being a vast geographical area with many small towns having industrialized plants in key areas, David started honing in on those strategic locations, enabling the business to grow.
There were two specific partnerships which he focused on to expand together. After many successful years within each partnership, he ended up making them exclusively ABC Recycling locations. In 10 years, they went from two to nine locations, which is where ABC Recycling is today. And although they have expanded outwards, Randy said that they still maintain their family business ethos.
Processing and logistics
When it comes to volume, ABC Recycling procures between 20,000 and 22,000 short tons of ferrous monthly between all nine locations and with ELVs, this gets tied into light gauge tin and white goods, which they get around 7,000 to 8,000 short tons a month. Vehicles are either brought to them ready to be shredded, but a lot of them are brought in for ABC Recycling to dismantle and depollute on site.
To move all this tonnage to the steel mill on the mainland, they need specific transport. With two sites based on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of British Columbia, there is no railway and trucks transported on ferries isn’t a feasible option for them, so they use barges which transport anywhere from 3,000 to 4,500 short tons a month.
Randy told us that Vancouver Island and the two locations they have produce a lot of cars. When comparing with other areas of their business and the percentage mix of cars into their volume, the greatest proportion is weighted towards cars; if there were 4000 tons on a barge, around 70% of this is vehicles.
When it comes to moving the cargo, this is not an easy process as the material is not contained in an enclosure like that of an ocean liner or netted in any way. They use an interlocking method, like LEGO, which is built strategically to ensure that the cargo doesn’t move or fall off the barge during transport, and to load 4000 tons on the barge, it takes about three to four days.
During the loading stage, there are several factors to consider to ensure that they are getting the maximum amount of cargo on the barge, these include operator safety, checking the depths of the water from the stern to make sure the barge doesn’t gain water and sink in transit and that they meet their consumer’s requirements. “It’s a very sensitive way of moving cargo,” Randy said.
Their process is thorough, as it should be when it comes to fire safety. Randy said that some are propane fuel vehicles and they must ensure that the tanks underneath are drained. He told us about an incident that happened recently with a competitor; a barge which was fully loaded in the Vancouver harbour, caught fire from a spark a vehicle created and the fire continued for days. He said that these days, vehicles are becoming more complicated and more time consuming to process. With so many Li-Ion batteries and other electrical parts also being powered by smaller Li-ion batteries in the vehicle it is a problem worldwide which still needs to be solved to make EVs safer to process.
Keeping it real in the community
Looking to the community work ABC Recycling does, Randy gave us a brief history of how it began for them. A few different personal experiences prompted David to do something community-based. Having donated a kidney to his wife, he discovered that there was a program through the Kidney Foundation of Canada that recycles cars called ‘The KidneyCar Program’. The program enabled ABC Recycling to give back to the community by recycling cars; people could donate their end-of-life cars and receive a tax charitable receipt. ABC Recycling’s efforts facilitated raising over $500,000 for the foundation.
Later on, David’s first child was born prematurely and received care at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia. Around 2012, the leading NICU facility in Western Canada at BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre Foundation embarked on a $16 million dollar CAD investment to modernize their facility. From this point, he decided to start the “Donor of Hope Program” to generate funds towards the expansion of the hospital. Through recycling and personal donations, ABC Recycling generated over $400,000 to go towards the expansion. These two large fundraising programs tied in recycling and a personal connection, therefore having a greater significance.
Beyond this, ABC Recycling is continually doing community work in each one of their locations, such as working with local hospitals and fire departments. Recently they participated in ‘the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’ to clean up trash and recyclables around their yards, especially as some of these locations are closer to water.
Another organization they are involved with is the ‘United Way’, which serves the needs of our local communities. ABC Recycling runs a Workplace Campaign every year for the United Way, giving employees the opportunity to donate funds while matching donations dollar for dollar. Since 2001, they have generated close to $400,000 in donations for the organization. The 2020 Workplace Campaign is ran from October 19-30.
ABC Recycling also supports volunteerism. They give every employee two paid days per year to volunteer for any cause which has significance to them. It doesn’t have to have any impact on the business; it can be anything from sorting food at your local food bank, volunteering at your church or child’s school, coaching a sports team or serving on the board of a non-profit organization.
The community work is a culture that’s driven down from the top right through the business. Everybody in the company feels that they have the ability to support or to bring forth any sort of a community initiative. It has become part of their branding ‘Your community leader, in metals recycling since 1912’. They start with community, they are family guys coming in trying to support the community, and as a result of that, they buy scrap, recycle and keep the place clean.
Karen Bichin, a fourth-generation family member, is Manager of Community Relations working to connect with local communities to develop partnerships and take the lead on branding. She said:
“We have a great opportunity as a family-owned and operated business to have an impact. As a values-based company, we can leverage our assets to drive positive change in society. It’s really exciting to work with our various stakeholders (employees, customers, suppliers and community partners) to tackle some of the challenges in our community and make changes.”
ABC Recycling provides an excellent local economic impact on the communities where they operate, and the resulting benefit is to increase and capture as much market share as possible.
To find out more about ABC Recycling, please visit www.abcrecycling.com