In this episode, Nick and Brett sit down with Mark Imel, owner of Premier Scrap Processing based out of Indiana. Premier Scrap Processing provides onsite scrap metal processing and general scrap management throughout the Nation. Take a listen. Listen and follow along on Rev.com Here or play the youtube video and follow along with the text below.

Nick Snyder:

All right. Welcome everybody, we're here with another episode of Recycled Idaho. Do you want to introduce our guest, Brett?

Brett Ekart:

I'd love to. This is Mark Immel, Premier Scrap Processing. Mark and I met on LinkedIn of all places. Imagine that.

Mark Immel:

I know, right?

Brett Ekart:

Mark reached out to me, or I reached out to him. Either way. We made the connection started talking, and at the time we had a need for some, some big iron needed cutted, sized, torched, cut down. And got ahold of Mark. We talked, he flew out. Mark and another guy named Mark. Mark Castle, I believe.

Mark Immel:

Yep.

Brett Ekart:

And took a look at the pile and said, "Yeah, let's see what we can do." So Mark's coming down, check on the progress. And I figured it might as well get him in the podcast room. So Mark, thanks for joining us, man.

Mark Immel:

Hey, thanks for having me. We appreciate it. We appreciate the work, the opportunity. We never turn down at least a chance to look at something. This is funny. That's how we hooked up on LinkedIn. You know.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Mark Immel:

I never really used it. I just saw it. I was like, "Man, I'm going reach out to this guy, and see what happens." And sure enough, here we are.

Brett Ekart:

There's a ton...

Mark Immel:

Five months later or something like that.

Brett Ekart:

A ton of value that you can get out of LinkedIn. I mean, I use it a lot, because I've had success with it. And success is finding business opportunity. Whether that's people to help process material, people to find consumables from, other people to consume our products that we're producing, whatever. It's been a good platform for us. And so it's pretty awesome to have you on the podcast.

Mark Immel:

Well, again, thanks. And you know, it's something we're starting to look at is how to use LinkedIn a little more for us. Because Facebook really doesn't fit us as much. And same with like Google. People aren't out there Google searching "torch covers" usually.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah. Before this, I went and found you. Your company's there So you got that. And like Brett said, it's just a valuable tool. So many good people and so many good businesses out there. And just a way that we... Five years ago, I wouldn't have thought we'd be connecting with so many different, great people that way. So it's nice to have you here. Where are you guys out of?

Mark Immel:

We're out of Indianapolis, Indiana. The Midwest. We got seven crews out working across the Midwest, and one crew out here. We'd like to expand our presence out here on the West. See what could happen.

Nick Snyder:

How big are your crews?

Mark Immel:

Anywhere from two to four guys.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Mark Immel:

And then we could, depending on the site, it's usually site-specific. You get much more than four, it gets a little crowded.

Brett Ekart:

You need a lot of space.

Mark Immel:

A lot of real estate. Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

To cut, to have four guys cutting.

Mark Immel:

I got one project right now where we're going to bump it up to five, just because the incoming is so heavy right now that we've got to do something. They got the space, but it's going to be tight.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. How big of an oxygen tank is on a site with five guys cutting like that full time?

Mark Immel:

We've got... the biggest tank we got's a 1,500 gallon.

Brett Ekart:

Okay. That's a big, that's a good-size tank.

Mark Immel:

It's a good-size tank.

Nick Snyder:

Well, was it upright tank?

Mark Immel:

Upright, upright.

Nick Snyder:

Okay. Those seem to be the best. More people I've talked, they seem to prefer those upright tanks for whatever reason.

Mark Immel:

I don't know why. They take up less real estate. And it seems like as they get lower, or as the volume goes down in the tank, it's less-

Nick Snyder:

That makes sense.

Mark Immel:

Less space on the bottom. So you maintain your pressure better.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah. That makes sense. So Brett knows a lot more about your company than I do, but what do you guys do?

Mark Immel:

We do on-site scrap metal processing.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Mark Immel:

We do torching. We can do some saw cutting if we had to. We also have the capabilities, we could do shearing. And that's one of the things we'd like to grow into is to be able to provide more of those types of services.

Mark Immel:

Even some scrap management. You know, "Hey, let us come in. We'll take over this area of your yard, and we'll manage the processing part for you."

Brett Ekart:

Cool. It's always good. I mean, you guys have done us a solid job. And that's why I was willing and wanted to get you on the podcast. Your crew that you've sent out, the guys you've sent out have been been great.

Brett Ekart:

I have no complaints about that whatsoever. So I'm always looking to kind of boost people's businesses that are doing a good job. And I just... That was the biggest thing I wanted to say. We appreciate your guys' crew and kind of their knowledge on just cutting and doing their job.

Mark Immel:

I'm pretty fortunate. All the guys that I have have a lot of experience. I have somebody as young as 30 years old, that's got 10-15 years experience in this industry. And I got a guy that cuts for me at 74 years old. So he's got 47 years cutting. So we've got a vast majority of knowledge.

Mark Immel:

Some of the things we pride ourselves in is our safety, our quality of our work. Doing what we say we're going to do. We're, like I said, big into the safety. All our guys get preemployment physicals, hearing tests, blood tests, drug tests, respirator fit. Do the same thing annually. We do random drug screens We don't tolerate any of that. We're a second chance employer, as well. So that's one of the real big pushes of not wanting any drug use is don't want to tempt those guys. They're trying to get their lives back together.

Brett Ekart:

That's one thing that we see in our industry a lot. Because we are pretty labor intense. You're running equipment, you're handling scrap. Whether it's zero outside or 100. It's a pretty labor-intense job. And that doesn't fit criteria of what they want to do for a living.

Mark Immel:

Nope.

Brett Ekart:

But there's a certain sect of people that, they're looking just for a chance. I mean, we here at the Boise facility, the way we really built this facility out is... You know, we're about 10 miles from the Boise Penitentiary. And I don't know if a lot of people know this, but when we were trying to find people, we actually reached out to the penitentiary. And they were giving us applicants and people that had the potential for work release. So then we would run them through, prescreen them. And then we had the van dropping them off every morning 7:45. Picking them up at five o'clock every day. And that was kind of how we kind of built into this facility, was being a second chance type employer. I think that our industry sees a lot of that.

Mark Immel:

Oh yeah. Yeah. Because I mean, let's face it. Most people really don't care what they hire. So that draws a lot of that to us. And a lot of people, there's a lot of places that just won't give somebody a second chance. And I understand that, but everybody deserves a second chance.

Nick Snyder:

I agree with that.

Brett Ekart:

The proof's in the pudding. I'll give you a chance. I've always said. I have no problem giving you a chance.

Mark Immel:

Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

But you got to hold up your end of the bar.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. I've had good luck and I've bad luck.

Nick Snyder:

That's with any employee though, any way you hire.

Mark Immel:

Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

Second chance, first chance. Doesn't matter.

Nick Snyder:

So where are all your employees? Are they all throughout the nation? Or are they all from Indiana?

Mark Immel:

I have employees from Virginia. From Alabama, Oklahoma.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. That's pretty much it.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Brett Ekart:

So I know you don't just get into the torch cutting business just because you're looking for a hobby. That's something you have to have some familiarity.

Mark Immel:

I'm watching YouTube videos saying, "I can do that."

Brett Ekart:

I know that you have to have some background in the scrap business. Right? So why don't you give us just a little bit of your history in the scrap recycling business and kind of how you found your niche there at Premier?

Mark Immel:

Like you, Brett, I grew up in the industry as a kid from way tall. Little to now. It's still the same. It's in your blood, it's in your blood.

Mark Immel:

Probably somewhere in my early twenties, I ventured away from my father and grandfather's business and went to work for another company. Wanted to try something different. Same industry. Trying to help them get their ISO program going. And via that, I ended up in Indianapolis. Had a business partner there and things sour. But I decided to finish school. And I was working for somebody else but just kept getting drawn back. And getting drawn back.

Mark Immel:

And how I got the torching going, I was visiting a buddy of mine who has this little scrap yard there in Indianapolis, watching these guys cut. And I said, "Dude, they're awful. Let me put you a quote together."

Mark Immel:

And a couple weeks later, we were there. That was a year and a half ago.

Brett Ekart:

Wow.

Mark Immel:

So year and a half ago, we started with two guys just on a whim.

Nick Snyder:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mark Immel:

And my desire to get going. And here we are now with 15 guys or so and seven locations. And we're just rolling.

Nick Snyder:

It's funny how you say you tried to get out, and it just kept pulling you back.

Mark Immel:

Oh, I know right?

Nick Snyder:

Because I've been in the scrap industry for 10 years, and I couldn't imagine myself doing anything else. And I hear that from so many other scrap guys. Like once it gets into your blood, it's hard to break loose. I mean, Brett's going to start us another podcast highlighting just scrap guys. And that's going to be exciting too.

Brett Ekart:

Well, just how the scrap industry can change your life for the positive. And maybe you never thought you'd end up in the scrap business, but you just somehow happenstanced your way into it.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah, that's how I got into it.

Brett Ekart:

And now you love it. Or you're like me or you and you don't know any different.

Nick Snyder:

Born into it.

Brett Ekart:

No, I mean, I don't know any. This is what I know. This is what I love. This is kind of... I don't know. My wife's asked me, "What would you do if you weren't into scrapping?" I go, "I'd go find another scrap company to work for."

Nick Snyder:

Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

This is what I do. This is what I know. It's what I'm passionate about.

Mark Immel:

That's what I would end up doing if I wasn't working for myself.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Mark Immel:

And it's funny, because I get around the guys cutting and stuff and go over there. Just get a good whiff of that, just like, "God, that smells great."

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Mark Immel:

And today I'm going to send it over to Caldwell, you know, watching you guys work, get a whiff of that scrap. It's like, "Yeah!"

Brett Ekart:

Come back.

Mark Immel:

That smells good man. That's right.

Brett Ekart:

It felt like home.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. Yeah. Just a lot of familiar smells and sounds, and it really excites you.

Nick Snyder:

Just the heartbeat of the scrap yard.

Mark Immel:

Yeah.

Nick Snyder:

You know, it's just, I love it too. Like going to different ones, not just United metal. I love looking how other companies are doing it. I got hired on when I was 27. I didn't realize how big this industry was. I knew you could recycle pop cans. Like the general public. Then when Brett gave me a job, it's like my eyes opened. I'm like, "Holy smokes. There's this much scrap in Caldwell?!"

Mark Immel:

There's a lot out there. Every business generates something, it's got to go somewhere.

Nick Snyder:

It shows there's enough out there to start a company like yours, where you're out there cutting to help yards like us out. Or all throughout the nation. I think it's such such a cool idea.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. Well for us, at least for me, it was like owning scrap, I've done that before. And still have a small company that has a couple accounts. And we veered away from that. And it's like, "I like not owning scrap. I like processing!" And there some risks to it for me, but it doesn't seem as big a risk.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. It's more of a HR- as much as the bringing the knowledge, bringing the people in that know how to do that, and they have experienced cutting, that's one thing. But when you're managing people, like in your situation where you're burning big iron, you have heavy equipment, there's a certain level of risk that comes along with just that portion of the job.

Brett Ekart:

And so, I think everybody has their own comfort level as far as what they're more comfortable- some people are more comfortable on the financial side of the risk equation. Like willing to buy the ton, sit on the tons and try and market them. Versus say an individual like yourself might be more comfortable with the HR risk. The safety risk of the industry. And so it's kind of fitting how everybody just kind of falls into their niche.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. And then doing the process kind of gets us in these yards. We get to see some different things, but yet we're getting a taste of it. Yet we're kind of just on the outside just enough to...

Brett Ekart:

But you also have... The good thing about you and your guys... The two that had been cutting in our Caldwell yard, you can just tell by how they process that material. I've been around scrap yards my whole life. I've cut a fair amount of iron myself with a torch. And that's, to be honest, probably one of my favorite jobs in a scrap yard. Just because you can really, physically see how much you got done that day.

Mark Immel:

Yep.

Brett Ekart:

But you can tell those guys know how to cut iron. You didn't hire him last week off the street and just said, "Hey, here's a torch. Here's how you light it. Go ahead and get to work." You know? I mean, they've cut some iron.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. It's a skillset.

Brett Ekart:

It is.

Mark Immel:

I mean, I've tried to bring new people in that have never cut before, and they can't get it. Or you bring people in, "Oh yeah, I've cut in the shop." Well, you know, they were using a little two foot shop torch. They can't get it.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Nick Snyder:

You don't have anyone that you've brought up and trained?

Mark Immel:

I have-

Nick Snyder:

They've all had the experience.

Mark Immel:

They've all had the experience.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Mark Immel:

I've got one guy that's new, well, one of his friends who works for me trained him.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Mark Immel:

He's just a fabulous cutter, but he just caught on.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Mark Immel:

Some people can.

Brett Ekart:

Well, it's like a machinist.

Mark Immel:

Yeah.

Brett Ekart:

Some guys figure that out, and they find that niche, and they become a great machinist without any experience.

Mark Immel:

It's like an athlete some... You just have skills like that. Not in our experience, like I said. If you don't bring somebody in that's done it. We've tried, it just doesn't work.

Brett Ekart:

So what's the future hold for Premier scrap Processing? What do you envision?

Mark Immel:

We want to continue to grow our presence, like I said, to the West and to the East. We want to continue to spread out. We would like to maybe get hooked up with some demolition companies. Not doing their demo work, but maybe doing some onsite stuff for them.

Brett Ekart:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mark Immel:

And then we'd like to get into, really expand into the yard management and processing. And it's not so much running a facility, but the yard. And then we're doing the organization, we're managing the crate operators and the processing and production.

Nick Snyder:

Got you.

Mark Immel:

We'd like to be able to do that, or offer that as a service, anyways.

Brett Ekart:

Just as one more kind of tool in your tool belt.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. Yeah. We have Mark Castle, our Operations Manager. He's 32, 33 years old. He's got a wealth of knowledge when it comes to operations.

Brett Ekart:

And a super good guy. I really like Mark.

Mark Immel:

Yeah, super good guy. He can see the next five steps when he's managing a facility or manage an operation. He just knows how to set it up. So it would be ideal for him to do that. And that's where we like to kind of take things.

Brett Ekart:

Nice.

Nick Snyder:

Do you guys see any new trends, you guys being nationwide? Do you see any new trends in yards or new needs or even new types of equipment to help get certain jobs done out there? Or is it all still kind of... It's the same as it's always been?

Mark Immel:

It's just pretty much the same as always.

Nick Snyder:

Okay.

Mark Immel:

It just gets technologically better.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah.

Mark Immel:

When I was a kid, we were running a friction cable crane with no window, sit on a metal seat. You know. Now you sit at an excavator, just the two little joysticks, air-conditioned, heat, cameras all around, radios, all that fancy stuff, you know?

Brett Ekart:

Oh yeah.

Mark Immel:

So I think that's where it's changed. The equipment has changed.

Nick Snyder:

Equipment is better. Okay.

Mark Immel:

And it's definitely gotten so much more expensive. But again.

Nick Snyder:

But you can get so much more volume out.

Mark Immel:

Yeah. It's so much more productive.

Nick Snyder:

Yeah.

Mark Immel:

I mean, even we've tried different torches. We can go cheaper, on the cheaper end torch, but it just doesn't have the output to seem to meet the needs that we want. We've tried different things, and we know what we want and how we want to build and everything. And we're able to get that done.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. Well, and when you and I talked before, where we set up the yard and Caldwell was... What size oxygen tank you needed, how much propane you're going to need, and just all that. There's so many pieces to that puzzle that makes sense. But I mean, the biggest thing that I wanted just to get out of this was just, you guys run a legit shop. You guys are good at what you do, and I'm always trying to help promote people that are good at what they do.

Brett Ekart:

In this industry, I don't think we do a good enough job of supporting each other when you run into somebody. The secret is out, right? This is how we process our material. This is who we use. This is who we sell scrap to. Because I want to help promote the legit people that are doing... they're doing everybody a good job. And I think that's one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to sit down with you is just to say, "Hey, if you guys run into something, I know from experience that you guys have done us a good job. So give 'em a call."

Mark Immel:

I appreciate it. You know, we really do appreciate the opportunity to sit down with you guys. Of course, we know the stigma our industry has still-

Brett Ekart:

Yeah. And that's why it's important to do this, to say, "Hey, not everybody out there is trying to fuck you."

Mark Immel:

There's some really legit operations out there.

Brett Ekart:

There's legit businesses out there that are trying to do it the right way. When you got your guys showed up and they did it the right way and they did what they said they were going to do, you're good in my book.

Mark Immel:

That's what we do. We do what we say we're going to do. And if not, then let's figure out what we did wrong or where we went wrong in our communication. But it's customer first, and we'll customize our operation to how we have to.

Brett Ekart:

So if people want to get ahold of you. How do they get ahold of you?

Mark Immel:

You can reach me on my cell phone. (317) 242-9502. Or M-I-M-E-L at PremierSP.us. Or look me up on LinkedIn.

Nick Snyder:

Awesome man.

Mark Immel:

I appreciate it.

Brett Ekart:

Yeah.

Nick Snyder:

Great. Great to meet you.

Brett Ekart:

Thank you, man.

Mark Immel:

Thanks.

Nick Snyder:

Thank you.

Mark Immel:

Thank you.

Nick Snyder:

Nice to meet you.