Cyclical Business Patterns Wreak Havoc on the Scrap Metal Industry

scrap metal trade

Tom Buechel, owner of Rockaway Recycling, a scrap yard and creator of the iScrap App, a mobile application, discusses the impact that cyclical patterns can have on running a business within the trade industry.

As a scrap yard owner, coming to work every day there is something new. From dealing with homeowners to large corporations, there is such an array of opportunities that it never gets dull. It is funny how some people think that we are always busy because scrap prices may be higher at the time or they see piles of scrap so they assume that we are making globs of money.

What many people don’t see is how cyclical the trade industry can be and how everything can be connected in more ways than they think. For example, the winter of 2011 was a devastating one for many people, yet for people with plows on their trucks, they couldn’t have been happier. For construction crews and others that rely on doing outside work, it became a very long and drawn out winter.
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Most in the trade industry know that with harsh winters, comes a lot work in the spring. Over the winter of 2011, we were very slow at Rockaway Recycling, mostly because much of the work outside that would generate scrap wasn’t being done, so we had to wait for the warm weather.

When the spring did come, the harsh winter created an abundance of work for contractors looking to fix things that were damaged over the winter. From frozen pipes bursting to gutters collapsing from heavy snowfall, there was a lot of work out there, so naturally the new work of ripping out old materials created more scrap metal.

In late August, 2011, when the floods from Hurricane Irene came through the East Coast Region, many people didn’t realize how much damage was really done. From trees taking down phone lines to entire houses being ripped apart, there was plenty of work that was created from the great scale of damage and is still on going.

Then there are winters like 2012 that happen. The guys that are out there looking to make money plowing, only had 1-2 storms instead of 10-15 like last winter, so their income drastically went down. Because of the decrease of snowfall, contractors were out there doing work all winter, so scrap yards like mine had a nice steady flow of work all winter.

When the spring time came around, work at Rockaway Recycling slowed down because much of the work that contractors usually put off until the spring, was finished during the very calm winter. In most industries there are cycles of busy and slow business, both with the economy, weather patterns, and anything from gas and oil prices to the price of food.

Any business can complain about a lack of work, and many people have come on hard times due to wrong market forecasts but at the end of the day there is work to be done. Sometimes you have to wait for it, other times you have to go out and find it. The thing that we have learned at Rockaway Recycling is to never be content, and to always earn our customers business each and every time they give us the opportunity to.

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Capitalizing on the cyclical patterns in the economy, Buechel also used the market crash of 2008 to implement a new tool to the scrap metal industry by creating the iScrap App. A mobile application and online directory to find scrap yards in the area, the iScrap App has had over 65,000 downloads and over 1.5 million page views since its launch in 2011.

Using experience from owning Rockaway Recycling and creating the iScrap App, Buechel has used the cyclical business patterns, however unpredictable they may be, to his advantage in expecting the unexpected and making something out of it.

About Rockaway Recycling
Rockaway Recycling has been a family-run business since 1977. While serving thousands of customers and we have kept millions of pounds of material out of landfills. Rockaway Recycling recycles non-ferrous metals such as: Copper, Brass, Insulated Wire, Aluminum, Lead, Stainless Steel, and more.  For more information, go to

About the iScrap App
The iScrap App is the leading mobile app for the iPhone and Android that connects scrap yards with their customers. Scrap metal recyclers can locate scrap yards, find their pricing, see the materials they buy, send pictures of material for questions, and request containers right from their smartphones. Visit:

Scrap Metal Industry
According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, more than 130 million metric tons of scrap metal, paper, plastic, glass, textiles, rubber and electronics, valued at more than $77 billion, were manufactured into specification grade commodities by the scrap recycling industry in the United States in 2010.  The U.S.-based scrap recycling industry is a sophisticated, capital-intensive industry that employs approximately 130,000 workers in the United States.

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