In Memoriam: Ben Ettleman

D.C. area scrap executive spent decades in the recycling industry.

January 29, 2013
Recycling Today Staff
Auto Shredding Personnel

Long time scrap company owner and executive Benjamin Ettleman died in mid-January at the age of 91. Ettleman provided leadership at Davis Industries, Lorton, Va., for several decades, helping the company grow to operate an auto shredder and become one of the major scrap processors in northern Virginia.

Ettleman went into the family business with a partner, Stanley Asrael, in 1946 after serving in the U.S. Army. The business, which had been started by Ettleman's father, grew into a scrap company under his leadership, explains Joyce Bonnett, Ettleman's daughter.

"In 1974, Ben bought Davis Industries, an existing scrap metal dealer, and started to do what a good businessman does: figure out your market," says Bonnett.

Some of Ettleman's contributions to the industry include maintaining an open house policy for colleagues in the industry, being one of the first to buy and operate an autoshredding system, which he did in 1986, and serving as an innovative and effective leader, Bonnett notes.

Bonnett says her father donated wrecked cars to firefighters in training to practice extricating people trapped in emergencies. The Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County recognized Davis Industries for its contribution to burn victims and the Fire Department.

"After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, he donated $50,000 to children who were burned in the explosion," says Bonnett.

Ettleman was involved in the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) and its predecessor organizations and was a loyal attendee of scrap industry events.

He was married to Evelyn Davidson for 68 years. He is survived by his daughter Joyce, son Dr. Robert Ettleman, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Those wishing to leave a note honoring Ben’s memory may do so at