City Iron and Metal enters its second century with two new material handlers.
The year was 1914, and Henry Ford introduced the assembly line for the Model T, Babe Ruth made his debut as a pitcher and a Lithuanian immigrant founded what is now City Iron and Metal Co. in Hastings, Nebraska.
Gabriel Rosenberg started Hastings Hide and Fur, which purchased hides, deer skins and fur from local citizens. In what seems at the surface to be an odd pairing, the company began accepting scrap metal in 1916 and eventually changed its name to City Hide and Metal Co. in 1934. This shrewd move gave farmers a place to offload old scrap metal and the company another product to resell. “We were in the recycling business well before it became a movement,” says City Iron and Metal Co. President Chuck Rosenberg, grandson of founder Gabriel Rosenberg.
Throughout the decades, scrap metal progressively became more important to the company’s success. In 1985, it dropped the hide business to focus solely on recycling. The name was changed to City Iron and Metal, and the company is still located in the heart of downtown Hastings today.
Mergers and acquisitions helped the company expand its scrap operation. A 1990 merger with the Hasting’s scrap metal division of Kully Metal and Supply formed CIMCO Inc., dba City Iron and Metal, and returned familiar faces to City Iron’s board of directors. “My grandfather, Louis Kully, was a partner of Gabriel’s from 1918 to 1934,” says L.S. Kully, CEO and chairman of the board for City Iron and Metal.
City Iron acquired another local scrap operation, the H. M. Zuber Co., and absorbed it into CIMCO Inc. in 1995, leaving City Iron the sole scrap recycling business in town. This gave the company an opportunity to broaden its customer base and the types of material it accepts.
Moving toward modern
A key ingredient to this family-run company’s success is leadership experience. Gabriel led the business for 50 years, and David Rosenberg, Gabriel’s son, was with the business for 60 years. Chuck represents the third generation of Rosenberg ownership and is celebrating his 39th year with City Iron, along with third-generation L.S. Kully and fourth-generation Jeff Kully, secretary/treasurer.
“Originally, I was reluctant to join the family business,” says Chuck, who received his degree in industrial design and worked for other companies before joining City Iron. However, David’s persistence won out, and Chuck went to work in the scrap yard.
He spent his first two years on a massive cleanup and organization effort to help move the City Iron “junkyard” into a modern recycling center. “My industrial education helped with the cleanup efforts,” Chuck mentions, adding, “and I spent 15 years in the yard before moving into the office. Hands-on experience helps you to become a better owner and buyer.”
When Chuck first worked in the yard, City Iron still used cable cranes to load rail cars. Much effort was exerted to install a generator for running the crane’s magnet, and the crane required skilled operators. “There were two upper levers,” he recalls, “and the operator had to use both feet to run it and load scrap.”
Eventually, replacing cable cranes for loading, unloading and stacking scrap, hydraulic excavators were much easier to operate than cranes, and there was no cable sway when handling material. However, customization still was required to adapt the excavators for scrap handling.
Chuck says he recalls the need to install generators as well as the stationary cabs as drawbacks to the design. “The low-lying cabs did not allow the operator to see over the sides of railcars and high-wall trailers, which made it difficult to load material,” he says. The excavators could be equipped with elevated cabs, but they were fixed, not hydraulically elevating.
Limited reach, far less than that of the cable cranes, proved to be a bigger disadvantage, and lift capacity was restricted at the end of their reach. “Excavator hydraulics are set up for digging, so they are not well-equipped to handle much weight when the boom is extended,” says Jay Young, scrap and recycling sales manager for Roadbuilders Machinery and Supply Co., Kansas City, Kansas, an authorized distributor for Terex® Fuchs equipment.
Chuck adds, “You can only reach so far with an excavator, and there was too much stress and strain put on the fittings when lifting heavy scrap material at the end of their reach.”
Changing customer demographics added to the noticeable shortcomings of excavator productivity in this application. What was once a predominantly agricultural customer base is today more industrial and peddler based. The company now takes in all shapes and sizes of material. “When I first started in the business, 90 percent of what entered our yard was prepped steel,” Chuck says. “Today, 90 percent is uncut, heavy and bulky.”
The company also is taking in a broader spectrum of material than it has at any other point in its 100-year history. Beyond multiple grades of steel and cast iron, City Iron and Metal Co. also processes manganese, steel shavings, 20 different grades of aluminum, 12 grades of copper and six grades of brass and stainless steel. Efficient material sorting and stockpiling are essential, and the limitations of the excavators were a significant hindrance.
“Turn speed is key, especially for small operations like ours,” Chuck mentions. “We must turn over material daily and live-load four to five semis each day.”
To achieve the next level of efficiency, City Iron embarked on a major expansion project at the facility in 2010, one that included construction of a new nonferrous warehouse and the acquisition of new trucks, trailers, balers, forklifts and a shear. The company also purchased modern material handlers to boost material processing efficiency at the yard.
Chuck’s experience with cable cranes and modified excavators initially led him to believe material handlers with track undercarriages were required. He thought the tracks provided stability and the ability to move about the unpaved yard, but Young had another idea for City Iron.
“Even though the yard is unpaved, my recommendation to Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Kully was to go with a tire machine, one specifically designed for scrap handling,” Young says. “Tire machines can get around the yard faster, and the outriggers are quickly deployed to offer lifting stability,” he adds.
Chuck also considered the cost difference between the two drive systems. “It is more expensive to maintain a track machine and replace rollers, bearings and final drives,” he says. “Plus the tracks can get packed with mud, which is abrasive and causes wear.”
Through Roadbuilders Machinery, City Iron purchased two purpose-built, rubber-tire material handlers from a manufacturer with a 125-year history. A Terex Fuchs MHL350 material handler was equipped with a five-tine grapple, while the smaller MHL340 handler has a magnet attachment. Chuck says, “I was impressed that the generator and controls for operating the magnet were integrated into the machine’s design, so no modifications were necessary.”
The MHL350 machine’s 1-cubic-yard grapple at the end of its 52.5-foot-long boom/stick configuration efficiently handles the bulky items commonly received by City Iron. “The handler delivers very precise movements, and the grapple offers 360-degree rotation, which is a plus when loading bulky material into a trailer or rail car,” Chuck says.
With speed and efficiency being critical to City Iron, its employees enjoy a couple of specific features found on the Terex Fuchs MHL340 and MHL350 handlers. “These machines offer a much greater reach than excavators, and they have hydraulic cylinders positioned specifically for lifting, not digging,” Young says.
Chuck adds, “The hydraulically elevating cabs (the MHL350 offers a maximum eye level of 19 feet and the MH L340 offers a 17.7-foot maximum eye level) allow our operators to see into high-wall trailers, so they can be properly loaded. Everything on the Terex Fuchs machines is built for speed and efficiency.
“The two Terex Fuchs material handlers move more material than four cable cranes,” Chuck continues.
Young’s recommendation to go with wheeled material handlers is paying off for City Iron. The handlers offer working speeds of up to 3.1 mph and a maximum travel speed reaching 12.4 mph to quickly navigate the 2.5-acre property. Chuck says, “It’s all about speed in our business, and the Terex Fuchs handlers help us to do our jobs better, make us more competitive and allow us to keep up with the volume.”
He adds that switching to the purpose-built material handlers was the right choice for the well-established City Iron. “Initially we thought the material handlers would be a little bit more than what we could afford,” Chuck admits, continuing, “As time went by, we realized we couldn’t afford to be without the material handlers.”
The author submitted this piece on behalf of Terex Fuchs, www.terex.com, based in Southaven, Mississippi.