Humble & Hungry

Features - Scrap Handling Equipment Focus

GSI embraces a strong work ethic and a deep respect for its customers.

June 15, 2011
Rick Zettler

To Goulding Lane: That is where today’s family-owned GSI Inc. can trace its long and prosperous heritage. More than 60 years ago, James Jones started a small scrap business in Pensacola, Fla., with only a pickup truck and some land. “He would pick up scrap metals from his customers and take them to the lay-down yard,” recalls Russ Crosby, president of GSI Inc. and great-nephew of James.

It wasn’t long before that yard was open to peddlers, who dropped off their recyclable materials, which joined the materials James picked up. Throughout the next four decades, three generations of family leadership have grown the business and instilled a strong work ethic and deep respect for its customers and employees. These traits are exhibited by today’s third-generation leadership of Russ Crosby and Rick Rawls and the fourth generation, which includes Dennis and Eddie Crosby of GSI, Matt Crosby and Westin Rawls of sister company Scrap Inc. and Zac Winans of sister company Milton Iron & Metals.

“You must stay humble and hungry,” advises Russ. This guiding principle to fight complacency has helped the company achieve notable growth throughout the last two decades. The original Goulding Scrap Material operation has grown into three separate scrap and recycling facilities under the company’s current leadership.

Goulding now operates as GSI Inc. on an 11-acre site in western Pensacola with access to the Alabama Gulf Coast Railroad line and a barge site off of Pensacola Bay. A second facility,  Milton Iron and Metals, is located just to the northeast of GSI in Milton, Fla., to service the eastern Pensacola market. Both locations accept ferrous and nonferrous material from a broad customer base ranging from walk-ins to industrial customers as far away as 200 miles. These locations in turn feed GSI’s shredding operation, Scrap Inc.

Year after year, GSI has grown and succeeded in the scrap business. The company’s ability to recognize market changes and adapt its practices, equipment and services to meet the needs of the evolving scrap market has fueled the company’s success.

Throughout the years, GSI has seen and operated a variety of material handlers. From cable cranes to knuckle-boom cranes to modified excavators, the company has used the latest technology available at the time to keep pace with the incoming flow of material. Sometimes this is no easy task.

In late summer 2004, GSI experimented with a new piece of equipment, specifically designed to handle material at scrap and recycling operations. Quickly, Matt Crosby, president of Scrap Inc., and other GSI employees saw differences in the capabilities of their new track-mounted Terex® Fuchs RHL350 material handler. “The cycle times were fast, and the reach and visibility were very good,” Matt says.

The current RHL350 design employs a dual hydraulic pump design with one circuit focused on stick movements and the other serving slewing and other machine functions. With a maximum 169-gallon-per-minute hydraulic capacity, the dual-circuit hydraulic system is designed to quickly bring the upper carriage to full turning speed for fast working cycles. The machine’s hydraulically height-adjustable cab offers a maximum eye level of up to 18.4 feet for enhanced visibility of the working area. 

Timing of the purchase was fortuitous. Shortly after GSI took delivery of the RHL350, Hurricane Ivan hit the Gulf Coast. This Atlantic hurricane ravaged the southern states, leaving behind nearly $20 billion in damage.

Located in Florida’s panhandle, GSI’s operations are in the Gulf Coast’s “hurricane alley.” Its location also positions the company to assist after such natural disasters. In the wake of the widespread destruction caused by major hurricanes, intense cleanup efforts need to be quickly underway to get people’s lives back to normal. “The material left behind after a hurricane has to go somewhere,” Matt says “Scrap recycling centers perform an important service for cleanup efforts.”

After Ivan, a seemingly endless supply of scrap material was brought to GSI. “We unloaded anywhere from 400 to 600 customers and 15 truckloads of scrap each day,” Matt says. The processing side of the business could not keep pace with the influx of material.

“The iron and tin came in quick after Ivan, and the RHL350 has faster unloading capabilities, which helped us keep up,” says Russ.

The 360-degree rotation, track drive and 49-foot reach of the company’s new RHL350 offered substantial advantages over the cranes GSI was using at the time. With storage space limited, the only place left for the material to go was up.

Matt says, “The knuckle boom crane we were using at the time could only stack material about 20 feet high, whereas the Terex Fuchs handler could stack it 40 feet high. We could not have taken in as much material without that handler.”

With a positive debut and proven reliability, three more Terex Fuchs RHL350s were eventually added to GSI’s Pensacola site, and the company purchased one track-mounted RHL340 for the Milton facility. Russ says that because the handlers are not required to travel far, tracked handlers are the preferred option.

GSI has broken from its track drive preference in one instance. The Milton facility also operates a Terex Fuchs MHL331, which features tire drive and outrigger stabilizers. “The MHL331 is used to unload peddler material, so it has to move farther and more often than the other handlers,” Matt explains. The MHL331 offers a two-speed drive with up to a 12.4-mph travel speed to quickly move around the scrap yard. 

The operators use the slewing, reach and lift capabilities of the track-drive handlers to efficiently unload and load scrap material from a nearly stationary position. “Today’s RHL350 offers lift capacities in excess of 10,000 pounds at a 40-foot reach,” says Steve Brezinski, heavy equipment product manager, Terex Fuchs material handlers.

The purpose-built material handlers have not only increased efficiency but also have added another layer of flexibility to the operation. The RHL350s are quickly loaded onto low-boy trailers and taken to the port for barge loading and unloading. The company also takes its handlers to industrial sites, utility plants and demolition projects to pull scrap material. “The tracks on the Terex Fuchs machine can be adjusted inward or outward hydraulically to help ease the transportation procedures of the material handler,” Matt says.

To protect the company’s equipment investment, GSI works closely with Northport, Ala.-based Warrior Tractor, the Terex Fuchs dealer serving Alabama and western panhandle of Florida. The company relies on its dealer for equipment maintenance, including periodic boom maintenance, 500-hour preventive maintenance and annual service items. “Warrior is trained at the factory and specializes in service,” Matt says. “We couldn’t have a better dealer.”

With the material handlers increasing scrap yard efficiency and delivering consistent cost-per-ton operating expenses, GSI leadership focused its efforts on expansion opportunities. In 2008, management met to discuss market conditions and the difficulties the company faced in moving some of its scrap materials.

“We had the equipment we needed to move the material, but no single operation could take in the amount of material we wanted to move,” Russ says. At the same time, GSI also was under pressure from domestic steel mill customers to supply more shredded material, a trend that was only expected to grow.
Shortly after this meeting, GSI began looking for a shredder. “The decision was between growth or continuing to sell shred material to other companies,” Matt says. “We were taking in enough cars and white material to justify the purchase and opted to grow and increase market share.”

On an 11-acre site adjacent to the existing Hollywood Avenue property in Pensacola, GSI installed a 4,000-horsepower, 80-inch shredder, capable of processing 90 tons per hour. From purchase to installation and testing, the process took most of 2009, the height of the global economic meltdown. “The best time to upgrade and invest in a company is when things are down and slow,” Russ says.

With 25,000 tons of inventory on the ground, GSI started the shredder in January 2010, naming the business Scrap Inc.

To feed the shredder, Scrap Inc. purchased a new track-mounted Terex Fuchs RHL350 D, GSI’s seventh material handler from this supplier, with a 1-cubic-yard five-tine cactus grab. Now at full operation, Scrap Inc. has the ability to process 500 to 700 tons of material with its shredder daily.

Currently, GSI accepts and supplies scrap material to a domestic customer base with a 70/30 split between industrial and walk-in customers. However, with access to rail, a strategic location near a port and the company’s propensity for growth, there is plenty of opportunity for this family-run scrap operation to expand to international markets.