Pete and Susan Bausone
Pete Bausone and his wife Susan were not born into the scrap recycling industry. The couple did not benefit from inheriting a family business with an established clientele. Instead, Pete and Susan built Hawk Steel Industries Inc. in Kennedale, Texas, from the ground up beginning in 1983.
What started as a mom-and-pop yard with three or four employees now employs more than 50 people and services more than 500 containers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and beyond.
The Bausones and Hawk Steel Industries have found success by identifying an underserved market in north central Texas and by placing a special emphasis on customer service, which often means providing 24-hour service to its many industrial accounts.
AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION "We started out in ’83 as a little run of the mill scrap yard," Pete says, "but we ended up specializing in foundry grade material." Pete says he and Susan decided to focus on foundry grades because "hardly anyone in the area did it, and there was a real need for it."
Hawk Steel deals primarily in plate and structural steel, though it also handles general ferrous and nonferrous scrap metals. "We are probably the largest [scrap recycler] in Dallas-Fort Worth doing foundry grade specialization," Pete says. "We have expanded immensely to most of the foundries in the area," he says, adding that the company is also servicing foundries outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
When they started the company in 1983, they had one large competitor in the vicinity. "He was just excellent at what he did. He really had a lot to be proud of," Pete says. "So I just started following his lead."
In the years since, this early competitor and role model left the industry, leaving Hawk Steel Industries with a prominent share of the foundry scrap market in the area, Pete says. Pete’s aggressive sales approach and persistence coupled with his commitment to anticipating and meeting his customers’ needs have helped propel Hawk Steel Industries’ growth.
"We offer a lot of services that a lot of scrap yards don’t want to take the time to do," Pete says. "We will do whatever a customer wants to satisfy his needs." This includes a lot of custom container fabrication, such as building lock-top bins to leak-proof, water-tight containers to containments for roll-off containers, all of which help to prevent material theft and safeguard the material from inclement weather. Pete says the containers his company makes help to keep Hawk Steel’s customers environmentally compliant as well by preventing oil-containing runoff.
Pete Bausone, owner of Hawk Steel Industries Inc., Kennedale, Texas, has used the upswing in secondary metals markets to his advantage, adding new processing and material handling equipment to his 15-acre scrap yard.
In the last 17 months, Hawk Steel Industries has added five pieces of equipment from Wheatfield, N.Y.-based Colmar USA, including a 6200-800 shear/baler and three rubber-tired industrial loaders.
While shopping for the equipment, Pete talked with other Colmar owners and visited an area scrap yard that was operating a Colmar shear/baler and material handler. "I spent four or five hours that day watching him load stuff in the shear/baler that I wouldn’t even think of putting in mine, and the machine chopped it up," he says.
Pete says he also found the price of the Colmar stationary shear/baler to be "quite a bit different" than the pricing for comparable shear/balers from other manufacturers. He says he decided he had to try the shear himself.
Hawk Steel Industries uses its Colmar shear/baler strictly for processing foundry grade plates, and Pete says he has been pleased with the machine’s performance. "We just upgraded it to the high-speed cylinders, and our production should probably pick up close to 25 percent."
Pete also converted from tracked material handlers to Colmar’s wheeled machines, which are much kinder on the yard’s concrete surfaces. "The tracks tear up my concrete," which also creates dust, he says. "The rubber tires don’t do that."
Hawk Steel owns two of Colmar’s 605 loaders and one 650 loader. Pete says Hawk Steel’s operators love the Colmar material handlers. "They like their speed, their handling, the high cabs, which rise up and down, and their long reach."
Pete says that Colmar entered the North American market at the right time. "We need the competition. We haven’t had very many choices before," he says. "I think they will be in this market for a very long time."
Pete says Hawk Steel also acts as a consultant to the companies it services. "We keep them abreast of the markets and tell them when it would be best to sell their nonferrous materials and offer them secondary raw materials that they can incorporate into their operations," he says. The company also helps its customers with the logistics of handling their scrap materials, such as setting up conveying lines or dump hoppers to quickly remove scrap material from their manufacturing lines.
Hawk Steel also provides 24-hour service to its accounts. "If the customer wants us there at 3 in the morning, we’re there," Pete says. "I adapt to their schedules, within reason. My philosophy is to give the customers what they want and what they need. Solve their problems, and their hearts will follow."
The company also provides mobile processing, whether a customer is looking for facility cleanup or for the dismantling of old metal-intensive structures or equipment. "We will go there with machinery, manpower and trucks to perform that service," Pete says. In such cases, Hawk Steel has a mobile shear and a baler available.
In addition to this mobile processing equipment, Hawk Steel also operates a shedder, through which it processes light metals, and a Colmar stationary 6200-800 shear/baler. Hawk Steel Industries uses the shear strictly for processing foundry grade plates, Pete says. "That has been performing very well," he says of the shear/baler. "We just upgraded it to the high-speed cylinders, and our production should probably pick up close to 25 percent."
Hawk Steel also operates a fleet of 16 trucks, five of which are dedicated to delivering processed scrap to consuming customers. However, the company occasionally hires trucks. "We can get all the material in, but sometimes we cannot get it all out. That’s when we hire outside truckers," Pete says.
Today, Hawk Steel is located on a 15-acre parcel of land in Kennedale that Pete and Susan own. However, when they first started the company, the Bausones leased a smaller yard from a scrap recycler who had gone out of business.
IN THE BEGINNING
"My wife and I bought a little one-horse yard and we bought some equipment from a yard that was going out of business, and we opened up Hawk Steel," Pete says. "Within six months, we outgrew that facility, but we stayed there for two years and then bought the 15 acres where we are now."
Pete and Susan began their careers in the scrap metal industry after Pete was offered an opportunity to leave the Dallas bank he had worked at for 10 years in the business financing department. "I was tired of banking. It was really nothing that I wanted to stay in," Pete says. When one of Pete’s finance customers asked him if he’d like a job in the new steel business, Pete seized the opportunity, which involved marketing damaged steel sheet and coil products.
After a few years, Pete decided to go into business for himself. "I would go into the steel warehouses and sweep the floor of all their dropped or damaged materials and all their old, dormant inventories," he says. "I would then turn around and market it and find consumers for it."
However, Pete says the market for damaged steel goods "went down the tubes in ’84 and ’85," which is when he had the idea to handle manufacturing scrap instead.
Pete’s tenacity and attention to detail can be considered the driving force behind the growth of Hawk Steel Industries. However, Pete says he realizes that the high times the secondary metals markets have been enjoying won’t last forever.
"I’m just waiting for the bubble to break," Pete says of the strength secondary metals markets have experienced recently.
"I run a very conservative company, so when the economy does change, I’ll be prepared," Pete continues. "Everything that comes up must come down. And if you live with that in mind, you will do very well as far as planning your financial future is concerned."
In preparation for the inevitable downturn, which Pete says he expects to occur in the next two or three years, he has purchased a lot of new equipment for Hawk Steel in the last year and a half. "I’m hedging my debt on the short term so when the market does change, it won’t catch me short," he says.