September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
One-on-One with Gary Opatz, Opatz Metals, Inc.
How did you get into the metal recycling business? I had worked for the previous employer of Opatz Metals for 27 years. Three years ago my wife, Jordy, and I purchased the business and incorporated it, naming it Opatz Metals, Inc.
What types of metals do you take in? Opatz Metals, Inc., recycles almost every kind of metal. We recycle autos, iron, cast iron, copper, stainless steel and much more.
What's the process of recycling metals? The process starts with the customer. When the customer comes in with a load, the load is weighed on the state certified scale. More often then not, the customer will have aluminum cans, tin, unprepared iron or prepared iron. The cans go into a hopper and are then crushed into bricks. The prepared iron goes onto the pile, waiting to get shipped out. The tin goes onto a different pile and gets baled into large bricks. The unprepared iron gets cut into prepared iron with a shear.
Where does the metal go after you're done with it? The simple answer is the metal goes all over. We have shipped metals as far away as Kentucky and as close as Minneapolis.
What's your busiest time of the year? The employees would say all year is busy because there is always something to do; however, the busiest time of the year, when customers are "scrapping" would have to be during spring. This is also the busiest time of year for dumpsters because of remodling and construction.
Why do scrap metal prices fluctuate so much? There are many theories about why the prices of metal fluctuate so much. Much like the theories about the constant change in gas prices, everyone has a different opinion. I believe the fluctuation is due to the economy, not only in the United States, but also in the entire world. If the economy is good, there is building going on. Bridges, houses, roads, etc., are built with some sort of metal. Most of the metal used in these types of construction is recycled. The higher the demand for recycled metals, the higher the prices will be.
What are the current prices for recycling? The prices for both metals and dumpsters can change daily.
What's the most unique object you've ever seen scrapped? I have crushed cars that would probably make collectors shed a tear. I have seen antique toys, snowmobiles, plows, etc., get recycled by my hand. Most of the things I see I do not see as unique. I see mostly everything as recyclable. If I had to answer, the most unique object I have seen was an old excavator, only because it was unique trying to recycle it.
What are the incentives for separating metals before bringing them in? The incentive is more money for the customer. We do our best to separate the metals with the machines we have here, but the best way to ensure the best prices is by separating the metals into noticeable piles on the trailer or in the back of the truck.
Do you have any recycling tips for farmers? The best tip I have is do not be afraid to call us. We will find a way to get the metals in. Opatz Metals, Inc., has dumpsters that we can drop off at your location, which can be filled with most anything. We also know local "scrappers" like Jeremy Freudenrich, owner of Ironman Salvage, who will pick up autos and other types of scrap metals. Even if people do not have the time to recycle, we are now making it possible for people to recycle with only a phone call.
How has the business changed over the years? Opatz Metals, Inc., has drastically changed. Before, the customer had to bring in the recyclables. Now, we have 40-plus dumpsters and three trucks to pick up almost anything. At the scrap yard, we have more equipment to ensure the job gets done faster and safely. As far as the business itself, I notice new faces bringing in recyclables.
Why do you feel it is important for people to recycle? Many people may say that recycling keeps the community clean, recycling helps clear clutter in a yard or a field, etc., but I say - and I know this sounds like a cliche - we have to recycle for the younger generations. At first, I would think about my two sons when I recycled, thinking I was doing my part in preserving the environment for my kids. Now, I have grandchildren, and I think it is even more important to preserve the environment. That is why our motto at Opatz Metals, Inc., has been and will always be, "Recycle today for a better tomorrow."[[In-content Ad]]
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