Vice president at Steebro International Co. Inc.
Abhijay Goenka says his experience growing up in the scrap industry was intriguing. His father, Animesh Goenka, owns Steelbro International Co. Inc., an international nonferrous scrap trading company based in Oyster Bay Cove, New York.
“Growing up, the business was fun,” he says. “It was something that I always was around. I remember, in middle school, my father had me work my summers for $1 an hour to earn an Xbox doing paperwork in the office. So, I was definitely around the business quite a bit. … But to be honest, I didn’t necessarily know whether I would join the family business probably until college.”
While studying finance and accounting at New York University, Goenka realized he wanted to work for Steelbro someday. Upon graduation, he spent a year working in management consulting before an opportunity arose in 2013.
“There was an interesting opportunity to grow the business as we were looking to expand into Europe quite a bit,” he says. “We had a partner that was based in London who would take me under his wings. I would get to learn, and it would be a nice opportunity to grow the business. That’s what ultimately brought me in, despite being a few years earlier than I anticipated.”
Goenka now serves as vice president at Steelbro, primarily buying and selling nonferrous scrap. He shares with Recycling Today how his company, as well as the scrap industry, have changed since he joined the industry nine years ago.
Recycling Today (RT): What are some lessons you learned early in your career in the scrap industry?
Abhijay Goenka (AG): The most important thing is the value of a relationship. That is the fundamental foundation of everything we do at Steelbro. I think [relationships] make this industry tick—how much effort, how much time and how much care and love it takes to build a relationship and how quickly it can fall apart.
At the end of the day in scrap metal, there are things that go wrong and things that go right. ... But the people that I found in the long run tend to be successful ... are those that keep their patience, keep their cool and are always looking to lend a hand where possible. As businesses, we’re all trying to make our pennies and nickels and dimes, but those who are willing to look past that and help those around them … just become better people and service the community.
"I think [relationships] make this industry tick.”
RT: How has Steelbro’s business changed since you joined?
AG: Of course, we’re still focused on exports of nonferrous scrap, but [we’re in] an incredibly dynamic and evolving industry, and that impacts what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis.
When I first joined the business, most of our business was going toward China. There’s been a lot of policy changes within China and, of course, the relationship with China and the U.S. We’ve seen a lot of our business pivot from the Far East over to South Asia. ...
We’ve expanded the markets we deal in. Now we’re dealing with a lot of European countries. We’re sourcing from North America, South America and Europe. So, our global reach both on a procurement as well as [our] sales network has dramatically changed. That’s also allowed us to become more creative and flexible.
RT: How have logistics challenges affected your business?
AG: I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say logistics has been the biggest headache for myself and this company and probably a whole lot of other people in this industry over the last couple years. It’s very top of mind. Trying to figure out how to manage it has been key.
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