Scrap You Later

Discussing The New Age Scrapper With My Sister

September 24, 2021 iScrap App Episode 78
Scrap You Later
Discussing The New Age Scrapper With My Sister
Show Notes Transcript

We had an awesome sit down with Tom's sister, Virginia Buechel, Director of Marketing for the iScrap App, about what we call the 'New Age Scrapper' and how through technology and utilizing the resources around them, have become very smart with their scrap metal decisions.

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Tom Buechel:

Hey, scrappers, it's Tom from the iScrap App. And today, I'm going to interview my sister Virginia who has been working with me for the last 10 years, we've been working together from Rockway Recycling to iScrap, now Rockaway National, RRCats, and just learning as we go. And today, we just wanted to sit down and talk about some early scrap memories, you know, her opinion and perspective on the industry and kind of where things went. So, you know, thank you, but you work across the hall from me. So certainly, I hope the community was short and sweet. And it was funny because I was talking to dad when we get our first podcast on this, and I heard a bunch of his stories. Yeah. And before I jump into your opinion on the scrap market, where the markets are going, and all that type of thing, give me your first scrap memory completely, you know, off the cuff.

Virginia Buechel:

Has to be probably I was probably six or seven at the time. And here at Rockaway Recycling, I remember being here on a Saturday morning. And obviously, in the brass pile, we get symbols. And I remember saying "Dad, like I want to create a drum set with these symbols." So I went outside, I got a bunch of five gallon buckets, set him up like drums around me, I think I got like random brass rods and like tape symbols to them. And I just set outside playing them. So that would definitely be one of the earlier ones.

Tom Buechel:

And then 10 or 15 years after that we actually made a video for Rockaway Recycling. Did the guy that used to work here named Ernie. Yeah, he was a drummer. Yeah. And he took all brass cymbals

Virginia Buechel:

And did a way better job than I did.

Tom Buechel:

I mean, and I think it's one of the craziest things I don't know when when you talk to your friends or, or other people like oh, what do you do? You try to explain it? Yeah. And it's just such a different place. The scrap world is such a different place. And even though you're not down in the yard, like I was, it has to be really interesting. You know, we post all these cool pictures and I have these stories and then you have stories. We talk to scrapyard owners and and scrappers. So outside of your own experience. What are some of the coolest things that you've learned from the industry, talking to scrapyard owners? You know, being part of management and then just working with scrappers through the iScrap App?

Virginia Buechel:

Yeah, I mean, one of the biggest things from off the cuff that I say is like we, we're in an industry that people will never know anything about, unless you're in this industry.

Tom Buechel:

Or you need to get rid of some.

Virginia Buechel:

Yeah, there's no reason for people to know anything about scrap metal unless you bring material to a scrap yard or you're in the industry as a career or work with them in logistics or things like that. But from a one of the cool things that I think I've learned about the industry and those players in it, is that they have this rough exterior, but if you get to know them and just talk normal, like business with them, they're just like anybody else. But I think one of the biggest things in the industry is everybody has this perception that like a scrapper, the scrap yards are like rough and tough and scrappers all rough and tough. And, and yes, that is part of it. But it's also they're also just trying to make money and it's just a different type of career than most people see.

Tom Buechel:

And I've told everyone that I consider the scrap industry this white-blue collar industry. Oh, yeah. where I'm sitting here with a polo shirt on with the logo on and yours near Under Armour. logo, right. But I'm wearing my Carhartt pants and my work boots and you know, like it's like, Jacqueline Hi, they can be in the yard working. But I can also be in the office doing, you know, recordings like this, your conference calls and, and I think that a lot of people from the scrapper perspective, don't understand what a big industry it is. Yeah. You know, they see piles of scrap when they come to the scrap yards and they see pictures that we post online. But what has your opinion been from talking to so many scrappers? You know what they kind of think of the overall industry outside of making money?

Virginia Buechel:

I've had with scrappers is they like to just learn and learn how they can hunt different types of materials down and figure out how they work. I recently was talking to somebody on the scrap metal Reddit page, and he simply just had a bunch of different crates of different materials sorted. And someone immediately commented and said, Wow, you really know what you're doing. And he goes, I've learned over the years that if I sorted better, this backyard treats me better. Yeah, has he's doing more of the work for them. So I think that whole hunt of not just finding material but learning about the industry and figuring out how scrap yards work with different materials and what they're expecting of their customers is like a kind of like a good transition into how we at iScrap had been able to connect those scrappers to the scrap yards to kind of have more of that understanding of what people's priorities are like scrappers want to make money and sort of scrap yards. But as scrappers can make it easier for scrap yards to make money, it's kind of just this nice little...

Tom Buechel:

What's been cool, because that's been the perspective we had a Rockaway Recycling, if we show the customers have sort and separate materials, you know, that was one of the things that I started 14 years ago, when I took over, they can make more money, but in turn at, you know, I would be doing less work when I was working in the yard, or the people that we have now we're doing less work because if you cut your copper, if you sort your brass, if you strip your aluminum wire, or whatever it is, we learned about categories. And I think that by us teaching people at Rockaway Recycling when we do podcasts like this, and people are listening, first off, you know, what have you learned that that has been really one of the best things that the scrappers have been happy about? Or what do you think from a scrapper point of view iScrap has done for them?

Virginia Buechel:

I think a little bit of both, I think, um, you know, obviously, we're a little biased that iScrap is a great resource to scrappers. But I even think without iScrap, with technology in the way social media is these days, scrappers still would have been able to learn it, because now people are sharing it through videos on YouTube, through podcasts, or posts on Facebook groups and things like that. And I think one of the biggest things is that being able to kind of mesh the technology with this industry that's so archaic, and so material based, has really allowed scrappers to just really have a more of a respect for learning that. And again, kind of going back to my original point is like this hunt, this hunt for the material to figure out your love to brag about that. Find them. Yeah, exactly. And being able to be like, look at this, you know, I don't know this item that I found, I've never seen one like this, what do you guys think? And then you'll have people bringing in their own resources and their own experiences and tagging, like articles and being able to kind of have this collaborative industry that has been so just basic, like transactional. And now being able to have this information that's being spread through the internet really has kind of made it an interesting industry to be a part of the last 10 years, because I don't think it would have ever been like this 20 I mean, no conversations with dad. Nobody knew this type of information. But you could do a quick Google search of like, what's in a washing machine? And a scrapper could figure out exactly you can wash their hands before they pick it out.

Tom Buechel:

I mean, and we I talked about this with dad, the pushback that he had in 2006. When I told him I was gonna put the prices online, right. And we've learned that the scrap yards really disliked us for doing that.

Virginia Buechel:

Oh, yeah, sometimes they still do.

Tom Buechel:

And that's fine. Yeah, you're trying to teach people how to make more money, show people what things are worth. And you know, we were sitting down in a meeting earlier today, creating and redoing our mission statement, we're all talking about, what's our goal? What are we trying to do every day and the words were thrown out was transparency and showing scrappers where to get information and human resource for them. You know, over the next couple of years, we're in 2021. You know, we've gone through pandemics and low times and market turns, you know, from from someone who's not buying and selling scrap, but working in the scrap industry where you know, what's going on, you might not know the dollars and cents, but you see perspective from the scrappers. How have you seen their reactions change because of the transparency that people like us out there? I started out by providing

Virginia Buechel:

Yeah, it's kind of a good question to like

Tom Buechel:

Yeah, it's kind of a good question to like a two a two fold because obviously, they like more information. But fold because obviously, they like more information. But I've I've also realized over the years is that when the market also realized over the years is that when the market goes down, goes down, the overall attitude is very poor. the overall attitude is very poor, from also house, talking How so?

Virginia Buechel:

Scrappers are a little bit more negative about about it or scrappers are a little bit more negative about their scrap yards then getting you know, lower prices or their scrap yards then getting you know, lower prices or getting nickeled and dimed on here. getting nickeled and dimed on here, you think You think because they don't understand how the overall because they don't understand how the overall markets are? markets are? Or upset? I think it's a little bit of both I think it's I think upset I think it's a little bit of both I think it's they don't understand I think they think scrap yards will just they don't understand I think they think scrap yards will just keep their prices regardless of where the markets going not keep their prices regardless of where the markets going not realizing that a lot of scrap yards have to move prices realizing that a lot of scrap yards have to move prices because they've got to make profit. because they've got to make

Tom Buechel:

profit. Hey, today we saw the copper market drop 14 Hey, today we saw the copper market drop 14 cents. Yes. Yeah. cents. Yes. Yeah. And on on Friday, we saw the market And on on Friday, we saw the market dropped six cents. Yeah. dropped six cents. Yeah. And I don't want to change my prices. And I don't want to change my prices. But I don't want to lose But I don't want to lose money either. money either. We're not in this.

Virginia Buechel:

a two fold because a lot of scrappers do realize that scrap yards do you have to change your prices. But those that don't realize I think the negative attitude that I was kind of getting out was also they're just upset. They're not making as much money. Oh, yeah. And so they might say, Oh, you know, last year a perfect example, over the last three or four years aluminum has been terrible in terms of pricing. And more recently, with the aluminum prices going back up the second half of 2021, a lot of scrapper or scrappers are talking more about aluminum. They're clicking, they never talked about No, and they're talking about aluminum. They're talking about cutting ACR fins and getting all that steel off from the side of it. So like I've seen with the fluxes of different industries and the prices, the attitude and what certain types of topics are being talked about. I mean, same same example goes on the flip side of the coin, when the copper prices shot up. In the beginning of this year, I think it was beginning in February, February. And it was like 18 year highs or whatever crazy highs at what everybody was talking about copper, everybody's happy. Everybody was showing off their receipts and showing off their loads of copper. And then it kind of feels like every contract. I have a copper. Yeah, so now it's kind of like the aluminum part of it is getting loud. Um, and you know, same thing with steel when steel goes up or down. You know, people have the same. It's interesting because the attitude and the, the attitude and just the content of what scrappers are talking about or asking him questions about kind of follow suit with the market.

Tom Buechel:

So like to talk about that because on a personal note, I don't really participate in social media, but on a scrap yard business side, iScrap note, we're in social media every day I'm logging in, I'm looking at posts, and reading comments, what has been one of the most surprising things because you were doing the social media for so many years until we expanded our team. You'll you've seen the growth of the scrappers posting things on iScrap, emailing us questions, good and bad. You'll What have you seen in the last five years from a YouTube Instagram, Facebook, TikTok point of view? Where do you think scrap is going to go from here?

Virginia Buechel:

I think one of the biggest trends that I've seen and maybe we had something to do with it may not make this a little bit of both is that scrappers are way more educated than they were years ago.

Tom Buechel:

I would agree with that.

Virginia Buechel:

I think the questions that they come up with are well thought their their deep thinking in terms of not just what material is this, but like, what should I expect from my scrap yard for this? Or where do you see the market trend going for this? Or how do you see shareholder sell? Or even they ask great questions now about like, Hey, I saw this big economic news headline, how is that going to affect x. So they are starting to consume a little bit more of a deeper meat like understanding of the market and how that relates to them. So I think that was has been a big thing over the last few years. And moving forward, I think one of the bigger things is now with the explosion of different communities online and using the iScrap App to report prices and just be a bit more involved. I think we're gonna see scrappers, not only continue to ask those questions, but be more of the solution of being more transparent in the industry, by allowing are by contributing your own thoughts.

Tom Buechel:

See, it's been really interesting, because when we asked a lot of questions, when we do, whether it's a questionnaire that we send out for email, or posts that we put on Facebook, we ask people their opinions, when they start to tell us different things that they're doing, that they're talking about. It's been really interesting to see what they think, where they think the markets are going, what know they're trying to predict things in advance. And, and I'm not taking any responsibility for anything to talk about it to people. And we've been in, you know, every week for six, seven years, every Wednesday, almost even talking about market news and getting more people to view it. And I know people probably get bored listening to me, but what we've tried to do in the last couple of years really since kind of COVID hidden is trying to explain these macro point of views, these Domino effects. And have you started to see since people have had their phones in their hands more and talking with each other more than their their questions are becoming smarter that they're helping predict things that they're they're starting to tie together oil prices, and then steel and then copper. Yeah, you starting to see a more educated scrapper than you did a few

Virginia Buechel:

Yeah, definitely. I mean, like I years ago. mentioned before, I mean that just alone with the questions that they have, you could just tell that they're just more fun. Yeah, but more conscious of what is going on around and I think because it's so easy to get news these days to check markets and really the explosion of smartphones has allowed everybody have resources at their fingertips at any time. And I think that being able to be a part of educating scrappers and teaching them a little bit more beyond just Hey, this is how you separate something, but instead, have them think, Hey, this recent trade agreement is affecting aluminum or is affecting copper, being able to bring those two points to net together and connect them has really allowed the scrappers and especially the younger generation coming up to just be a bit more in tune with that, which has kind of, yeah, which is kind of helped us be a bit more advanced with our tips and how we've been able to expand the knowledge that we share with them, because it's not just like, sort your copper from your brass. It's more of like, yes, sort your copper from your brass, but copper prices are going down. So you might want to hold on to your copper. But you know, maybe you sell your aluminum right now. So being able to take it to another level of education of the industry and how the market is affecting it has really been something that I've seen, just sharing knowledge online has been super huge.

Tom Buechel:

I mean, I see that the transfer of knowledge and information we'll wrap up little, you know, back and forth. With How do you see technology and tools like the iScrap App and industry transparency, and scrap yards, acknowledging that scrappers are not just a way for them to make money, but you know, scrappers have to be serviced by the scrap yard seal the bill of bond, you know, where do you think the industry is going to go because of technology. And because of tools like the iScrap App over the next few years.

Virginia Buechel:

Unfortunately, I think some scrap yards are going to be left behind because we're not going to adopt technology. And I think that those that are adopting technology, whether it's website software at their doors that are buying it, educating their customers and being more transparent about their prices, I think scrap yards are going to be left behind. But I also think it's going to be because scrappers are going to be willing to change scrap yards that they use, I'm interested in and kind of get a better sense of what's available. They may not know, they may not know 10 years ago, that there's a scrap yard down the street that paid $20 more per ton for steel. But now they know that because they could find it on a Google search. And they could find it on iScrap, they could find an updated price that was shared on the Facebook group. So I think that scrap yards that don't adopt technology, I think we'll be left in the dust because I think technology is moving so quickly and entering this new generation of scrap that I think scrap yards are going to either make or break over the next few years,

Tom Buechel:

I think at that point wraps everything up in a really good view because I think that scrappers standards have been risen, as opposed to just getting stuff out of their truck, getting a couple of bucks in their pocket and leaving early. And I'm really excited for the next few years of iScrap and Rockway Recycling and the growth that we have and just showing the peddlers showing the scrappers showing the scrap yards how we're all connected, and figuring out different and new exciting ways to work together. So hey, awesome interview super pumped that we were able to. To do this we'll do this again. We'll talk about other topics. This is Tom from the iScrap App. Any other questions, podcast questions for Virginia, let us know and we'll scrap you later.