Nick gets a chance to walk with Joe Cheatham to check out his full service pick-a-part that does business in Oregon and Idaho. Stay tuned for the sit down version of this.  Listen and follow along on Rev.com Here or play the youtube video and follow along with the text below.

Joe Cheatham:

Welcome to Recycled Idaho, where two recycling industry veterans, Brett Ekart and Nick Snyder, explore Idaho businesses and organizations that are putting in the work to keep Idaho environmentally and economically viable at the same time. Listen to how these entrepreneurs, business owners, and operators are making things happen in the great state of Idaho.

Joe Cheatham:

In this tour, Joe Cheatham from North Verde Auto Salvage, gives us the opportunity to see where the scrap his auto salvage is producing goes and how it's getting processed for end consumers. Check it out.

Brett Ekart:

You brought me here right after you got that machine that does the wire?

Joe Cheatham:

You've been here for a while.

Nick Snyder:

Right after we opened.

Brett Ekart:

[inaudible 00:01:25]

Joe Cheatham:

...6061 shavings. This is the newer machine. This is the older machine. This, you can tell by the size of the torque, it's the same machine but this one has bigger tooling. So you can get more throughput, smaller tooling, less throughput.

Joe Cheatham:

That's cool.

Brett Ekart:

We buy a shitload of shavings.

Joe Cheatham:

Where do the shavings come from?

Brett Ekart:

People manufacturing stuff out of 6061 aluminum. Like these are all 6061 aluminum.

Joe Cheatham:

Are these shavings from here in the Boise area?

Brett Ekart:

Yeah, for the most part. This is all pretty much coming out of Boise. There're just a couple of different customers that just produce 61 turnings.

Joe Cheatham:

What are they manufacturing?

Brett Ekart:

These guys are doing everything from motorcycle parts to gun pieces. Idaho has a pretty good base of gun manufacturers that a lot of people don't know about... Boise has more of a tech manufacturing background that a lot of people don't really know about it.

Joe Cheatham:

Yeah, I didn't know about that.

Nick Snyder:

We built western trailers, to custom made plan, where they reclaim a lot of it. So they're reclaiming it, using it. They let it drain which is good for us.

Joe Cheatham:

You deal with less of it that way.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah and it saves us money.

Joe Cheatham:

Yeah, that's something you wouldn't think you'd have to be dealing with... Shavings is dealing with liquids.

Brett Ekart:

I think a lot of...

Joe Cheatham:

State-of-the-art man,

Brett Ekart:

Aluminum, more aluminum.

Brett Ekart:

51, 53 mill finish, type material. You can tell it's been extruded because you can see it's been pulled through. That's not formed that way, it's extruded that way.

Joe Cheatham:

What's all this waste generated from?

Brett Ekart:

This is anywhere from window manufacturers, chair manufacturers, decking chairs...

Joe Cheatham:

I can recognize some of that stuff now.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. You see the side rails right there? That's what that is.

Brett Ekart:

This is RV awning. You can see where they slipped the piece in and then used the roll. We can kind of walk. I know they're not running that wire chopper now, but you've seen that right?

Joe Cheatham:

I've seen the wire chopper before. Yeah, when you first got it.

Brett Ekart:

It's the same setup. It's the same deal. We had a power surge here two days ago and it fried one of the processors in our baler, in the computer part that controls the-

Joe Cheatham:

Motherboard?

Brett Ekart:

The tolerances and all of that.

Joe Cheatham:

Oh really? Wow.

Brett Ekart:

So we're waiting on a part right now to run that. When we can't bale, we end up with shit like this.

Joe Cheatham:

Oh yeah.

Brett Ekart:

Where we are like, Oh, that needs to be baled. It starts encroaching on our pathways that run through this warehouse.

Joe Cheatham:

Oh yeah.

Nick Snyder:

Someone ran over that one. Typically it's a yellow down here. And a lot of times this is red and this is red.

Joe Cheatham:

Are some of those are only good for so many years, and then they pull them out and put new ones in, and then recycle them?

Brett Ekart:

Or they just get rid of the pipes and maybe the pivots. I think probably more of what we see is people getting rid of their hand lines. Here is where we cut all the converters.

Joe Cheatham:

Ah!

Brett Ekart:

We sort and cut? That was right here.

Joe Cheatham:

I've seen it on video, but I haven't seen it in person before.

Brett Ekart:

We had all this stainless come in when the price of stainless was really low. So we were like, Ah, it was all in good shape. What are we going to do it though? Oh, build a stand.

Joe Cheatham:

Nice.

Brett Ekart:

So then we rack our first one and then obviously built onto it. There's a second one down.

Nick Snyder:

And then Jay just put this dust collector in fairly recently.

Brett Ekart:

Jay, being Jay never leaves well enough alone.

Nick Snyder:

He's always improving. Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

Bad-ass vacuum, another shear.

Joe Cheatham:

That's a good thing though.

Brett Ekart:

Well, now we can get through twice as much. This is where all your converters come to here. They get touched here a couple of times before they go out the door.

Joe Cheatham:

I've seen him on video before.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. You're like, "I recognize that!"

Joe Cheatham:

Jay's doing the TikTok now. He finally got me to download the TikTok, I've been watching the TikTok videos.

Brett Ekart:

Dude, it's fun man!

Joe Cheatham:

It's addicting!

Brett Ekart:

I got my wife to look at it one time. She's like, "Ah, TikTok!" Now I look over, she'll be over there on the couch, the kids are bad and she's just, Oh my God. Busted.

Nick Snyder:

My wife was like, "Isn't that just for kids, TikTok?" I'm like, "Well, those kids have parents."

Brett Ekart:

Be like, "Yeah soon it's going to be our kids."

Brett Ekart:

I mean, you name it.

Joe Cheatham:

So those condensers, they take a building down or something to get all those condensers out.

Brett Ekart:

Those are probably out of a big rooftop unit I'm guessing. So we'll get the big rooftop units in, break them down, tear the tin off and make them go away.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah. Some of those came off, but we got a flat bed under them, just put a new rooftop on, an old data center. They came in here and we broke it down for them.

Brett Ekart:

They got all the Freon pumped out of it. Get it all ready to go. And then they'll fly the new ones in and the old ones out while the crane's on site.

Joe Cheatham:

Is that considered mostly copper there?

Brett Ekart:

Its aluminum copper, it's its own product.

Joe Cheatham:

I got you.

Brett Ekart:

So it depends on the units, depends on the size and what we have going on. And sometimes we'll clean off this galvanized steel piece. So we'll make it a clean, cover brass radiator. And sometimes if it's just too gnarly, bent up, nasty-looking then we'll just leave it on, bale it, call it "dirty."

Joe Cheatham:

Okay.

Brett Ekart:

If it's a dirty aluminum, copper radiator, that's an export item. Most of the time that will get exported.

Joe Cheatham:

So they have to determine if the cost of labor is worth the-

Brett Ekart:

Exactly. You have to decide how much you want to mess with it. I think the biggest thing is how much do you want to mess with it? What material is worth...

Joe Cheatham:

There's a point of diminishing returns.

Brett Ekart:

When you buy a car, is it worth inventory, testing, all the stuff that goes into a good piece of salvage? You know, that deal every day. You have to make that determination or your guys do. It's the same thing on our end, Is it worth... There was a time, when I was a kid, we would clean aluminum sheet. We would literally take the torch and cut all the fucking staples out. To make that clean aluminum sheet.

Joe Cheatham:

I remember when we used to sell radiators to you guys, years ago, we'd stick the tanks off, and take the straps off and do all that stuff. Then it got to the point where the labor just wasn't worth what you were getting for it.

Brett Ekart:

I spent a lot of days cleaning staples off aluminum sheets, off of cabinet shelves.

Joe Cheatham:

That's a monotonous job.

Brett Ekart:

That's terrible.

Joe Cheatham:

That's a tweaker's job.

Nick Snyder:

We get that question all the time from people calling in, Is it worth cleaning it? You've got to ask-

Joe Cheatham:

Ask yourself that. Yeah.

Nick Snyder:

Will you make more money? Yes. How much more? Sometimes I'll do the math for them. You made a few extra bucks. Was it worth it? And they're like, I'll just bring it in.

Brett Ekart:

You can't go anywhere because you're on home arrest.

Joe Cheatham:

You're on Covid shutdown.

Joe Cheatham:

You got nothing else to do. Might as well take staples out of aluminum.

Nick Snyder:

Was this was up when you came last time.

Joe Cheatham:

I don't remember.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Brett Ekart:

It was probably pretty close. We had all the foundation dug. It took us a while to actually get it up and get it done.

Joe Cheatham:

I can't remember why you brought me over here other than to show me the wire chopper deal?

Brett Ekart:

At the time you were selling us harness wire and stuff. Would you even pull your harness wire?

Joe Cheatham:

Not anymore. Same thing, diminishing returns. I don't know if the price was better or whatever. We did it for the first few crushes, after you'd started this. And then I was, "Man, I got these guys out here for hours and they're getting..." and some of those harnesses are hard to get out, and hard to cut and they're buried in there. It gets to the point where I'm just, "Nah, forget it."

Brett Ekart:

You'd need 10 pounds of wire, it will cost you an hour and 20 minutes. And you're selling it for 30/40 cents a day. At the end of the day, it goes all back to, Is it worth doing, is the juice worth the squeeze?

Joe Cheatham:

How many guys you got working in this spot?

Brett Ekart:

Twenty, more than that. Mid twenties.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah. Around 20 usually.

Joe Cheatham:

And you've been able to keep everybody working through all this government shutdown fortunately, right? You're all considered essential?

Brett Ekart:

How are we going to make bales if it doesn't run? Okay, I'm just curious.

Nick Snyder:

So all this, Joe, a year ago or so, was under the tent. The iron yard used to be in there.

Joe Cheatham:

Oh it was?

Nick Snyder:

Yeah. We just recently moved it out.

Joe Cheatham:

Oh wow.

Brett Ekart:

Give us a little bit of a-

Nick Snyder:

We just kept getting... like we'd have to, they kept going over there and it-

Brett Ekart:

The thing about aluminum too, is if you're selling aluminum to- then they don't want history on it. Because, it creates explosions in the face.

Joe Cheatham:

Oh no kidding.

Brett Ekart:

So they want it dry. You sell UBCs-

Joe Cheatham:

So that's why you were trying to keep it undercover?

Brett Ekart:

When you sell UBCs, they buy it off a percentage of moisture too, right? So it's moisture tested, check the moisture on it.

Joe Cheatham:

It's like you're selling hay.

Brett Ekart:

Oh yeah, exactly.

Brett Ekart:

Hay to aluminum sheet mills. I was talking to a guy yesterday and he said that one of the few aluminum products that's actually holding up throughout this, is all the can sheet mills. All the people are sitting at home, drinking beer.

Joe Cheatham:

Because of all this shutdown, and nobody is able to do anything, the supply is diminishing on everything, right? The demand is going to be going like this, going up. Well, this is shutdown. So when it opens back up, the demand is just going to go crazy, and shouldn't it, in theory?

Brett Ekart:

It depends on how fast things start again. It's almost like an old piece of equipment...

Joe Cheatham:

There are things that are out there that are necessities that they're going to have to have, and the supply on them has got to be getting depleted completely, right now.

Brett Ekart:

That's what we're trying to tell people that have auto shredders or steel mills or whatever. At some point it's going to be worth significantly more money just because there is no supply.

Joe Cheatham:

Right. There's always going to be a certain amount of demand for whatever, when the supply is diminished, the price has got to go up.

Brett Ekart:

You don't hold everybody out from work for a month, two months, and expect the demand to not- to still be there, right? At some point... That's why you see the oil price going down the way it's going down, because the moment you to take all the airplanes out of the sky, all the trucks off the road, all the cars off the road, everything that's big fuel, gas, oil consumers, and you basically shut them down... or you shut a good majority of them down, and then you wonder why the price of oil goes negative-

Joe Cheatham:

Yes. Unforeseen side effects of this, there's still things that are unforeseen, but the oil, less than $0 a barrel yesterday? It's crazy. They don't have any place to store it all.

Brett Ekart:

You can blame it on market manipulation and futures contracts and everything else, but I think the biggest thing is when they turn this deal back on, in my opinion I think you hit the nail on the head, that demand is going to come back, people are going to want to get back to work, they're going to want to build, they're going to want to manufacturer. They've got to drive to work, they've got to drive home. They've got to fly on a business trip, they've got to go back to trade shows. That has got to happen.

Joe Cheatham:

At the same time a lot of places haven't been keeping up, they haven't been supplying. So the supply shortage is going to be there, so they're going to have to ramp up and boom, boom, boom, boom, all at once, and get back up to production levels that they hadn't been at. So, all the materials that they need in order to do all these - scrap metal, aluminum, all these things, the demand's got to just snap back way above what it was before the economy crashed. Wouldn't it?

Brett Ekart:

That's what I'm betting on, obviously. And we've already shipped a lot this month.

Joe Cheatham:

That is a lotta rims man...

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. I think we've already shipped 68,000 pounds this month.

Joe Cheatham:

Wow.

Nick Snyder:

It's just crazy how many rims come in? It's something that I don't think the general public would ever think of - that that many rims get recycled, but it happens.

Brett Ekart:

Does anybody buy a car now and just leave the original rims on it?

Joe Cheatham:

It doesn't seem like it. But even if the original rims are on it, they're aluminum usually. And there's no demand for them particularly, unless they're a really late model. And, they get in a crash, the body shop says, "Well, I got to pay $800 for one from GM or whatever, or I can buy one from a salvage yard for 200 bucks." But that's super late model stuff. Any of that middle of the road... anything that's 10 years old or older, the rims are nicked up. The aluminum ones are not worth anything, except for what the scrap value is, so nobody wants them.

Brett Ekart:

Which makes you wonder, why do they still put aluminum rims on new vehicles? Is it a weight issue?

Joe Cheatham:

It's a weight issue.

Brett Ekart:

Just to get them under weight?

Joe Cheatham:

It's a weight issue. Totally, because of the fuel mileage.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah, makes sense.

Joe Cheatham:

The rims that we don't usually recycle if they're good, are rims off bigger pickups that are steel rims for work pickups, like the eight-hole lug rims or 10 hole lug rims that are steel dualie stuff. That stuff always sells used.

Brett Ekart:

Oh yeah, because that's production-driven.

Joe Cheatham:

Production-driven. People are out there making a living with those vehicles.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. A lot different than looks-driven or fuel efficiency-driven

Nick Snyder:

This is our retail area where the general public comes to sling the recycled rims. The rims they couldn't sell on Craigslist. We get a lot of those calls, like "How much would you give me for these rims?" Twenty pounds of rim, do the math on it. And they'll usually sell 'em, but they'll try Craigslist first. If someone wants rims, they want them brand new.

Joe Cheatham:

That's why we recycle so many of ours. We just can't retail them out to people. People just don't buy them.

Nick Snyder:

That's like a luxury item.

Brett Ekart:

One of the most common items for you guys is aluminum rims.

Joe Cheatham:

We do sell a lot of rims. Especially around snow tire season, people want an extra set of rims to put their snow tires on, stuff like that. For the most part, people don't- "Hey, I want to put some different aluminum rims on my old so-and-so." It doesn't happen very often. Those customers are rare.

Nick Snyder:

This is our commercial scale. If you had a bin come in full of rims, the guys weigh it right here. Then they fill out the paperwork and match it to yours, ticket goes inside and gets our account manager.

Joe Cheatham:

What will that weigh up to? What's the capacity?

Nick Snyder:

10,000 pounds. 10,000 pound platform scales. A forklift's not going to pick up 10,000 pounds.

Joe Cheatham:

No, no. Well, mine will, but... (laughter)

Nick Snyder:

These ones won't, they'll pick up seven, but the sweet spot's around five. Even these, all those boxes right here, that copper chopper you've seen? That's all copper chop. They have to cut them in half, like that. Keep the weight down.

Brett Ekart:

But each one of those like 4500 pounds.

Joe Cheatham:

That's a lot of copper.

Brett Ekart:

We just shipped a load of that this morning, too. As much as we can, we try and keep the ship moving.

Joe Cheatham:

Is the foreign demand still going on?

Brett Ekart:

The demand is there. The pricing really isn't... And some of that's supply-driven, like aluminum especially, because they're just not using as much aluminum. So right now it's all your auto manufacturers, your big aluminum users, your big secondary aluminum, your cast houses, those are the guys melting and making the ingots, getting them ready. Whoever's making your carburetors, your motors, your blocks, your transmissions, all the cylinder heads, all the cast aluminum components, those are the big users. And when those guys aren't running, then that demand is very minimal.

Brett Ekart:

Thank you for listening to another episode of Recycled Idaho. And as we continue the journey across this great state, we look forward to bringing you more stories of people and organizations putting in the work to do the right thing.

Crew Chatter:

(laughter)

Sage Phillips:

Okay. Nick, give me a little bit more sound check.

Nick Snyder:

Can you hear me? Hello?

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. I still have my original hard hat.

Nick Snyder:

I like that. I like that sticker.

Jay Milligan:

It's a little rustic looking. Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

It's been around for a while. It's still good.

Jay Milligan:

This is making it look a little amateur. This, this white one you got.

Joe Cheatham:

Yeah. Yeah. I feel good about getting this thing. Do I have to wear this?

Brett Ekart:

Would you prefer not to?

Sage Phillips:

I mean, if we're going to have it on camera though, is Tom going to throw a fit? If we've got a guest without a hard hat on?

Joe Cheatham:

If I have to wear it, I have to wear it.

Jay Milligan:

Maybe just leave your hat here and wear your sunglasses, Joe? Let's see how you look then.

Crew Chatter:

(laughter)

Jay Milligan:

Oh yeah. You see, you look like a bad ass right there. That's good right there.

Joe Cheatham:

Oh, whatever. Yeah, if you say so. Yeah.

Nick Snyder:

Hello. Check check check!