Recycling Companies Expected to Create 50 New Jobs

BOWLING GREEN, Ky., March 3, 2010, The Daily News (see original article here)

– David Bradford began recycling at a young age. In fact, Mike Murphy remembers an 8-year-old Bradford taking Coca-Cola bottles home to be reused.

“This guy recycled when recycling wasn’t cool,” said Murphy of Scott, Murphy and Daniel construction firm in Bowling Green.

Fast forward to Tuesday: Bradford’s local metal recycling business is expanding and he’s opening another company, creating a total of 50 new jobs and investing more than $5 million.

An economic development ceremony was Tuesday in the South Central Industrial Park for the two companies, drawing about 85 residents, local and state officials and business leaders.

At Owl’s Head Alloys, a company on Mitch McConnell Way that melts aluminum products for reuse, workers are building a 12,000-square-foot addition onto its 48,000-square-foot building.

The extra space will house an additional smelting furnace, which will create about 30 jobs. Next door, Bradford plans to open by May 1 a wholesale metal processing center dubbed MetalWorks Recycle-Reload. The 30,000-square-foot building will process metals for Owl’s Head Alloys and other companies and will employ about 20 people.

All those jobs will offer an average salary of $13 an hour. Between the two companies, the total job count will be more than 120; Owl’s Head Alloys, which opened in 2002, currently employs 71 people.

“I believe each job is a cause for celebration,” Gov. Steve Beshear said, adding that he traveled to two other job announcements in western Kentucky on Tuesday. “This shows this economy is starting to turn around.”

Owl’s Head Alloys received up to $400,000 and MetalWorks received up to $500,000 in tax incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority. The Bowling Green City Commission on Tuesday approved a job development incentive for Owl’s Head Alloys, which will allow the company to keep 1 percent of employee wages for 10 years that otherwise would go to the city.

In 2009, Owl’s Head Alloys generated $1.9 million in overall tax revenue, including local, state and federal taxes, Bradford said.

When he purchased the 46-acre site, it “was a hay field, and hay fields don’t generate very much tax revenue,” he said.

Owl’s Head Alloys receives scrap, such as aluminum cans, painted siding and window frames, from companies across the country. It melts those materials and ships them to other companies, which reuse the products. Bradford was looking for an original name for his business when he visited Owls Head, Maine.

Bradford, a Bowling Green native, opened the business in 2002 after selling Southern Recycling three years earlier. Southern Recycling, which was acquired by Houchens Industries, started in 1981 as a small cardboard recycling operation. Bradford began bundling cardboard for reuse in a rented building at the corner of Main Avenue and Barren River Road.

“I’m an entrepreneur and have been my whole life,” he said. “I always looked for things that were in their infancy,” which led him to recycling, a business that was not very popular at that time.

After working with cardboard for a while, Bradford branched out, buying and processing other materials, such as aluminum scrap, steel and copper. Bradford also started the local curbside recycling pick-up.

“It became a full-blown recycling center … it’s really interesting. It (did) a 360,” he said.

When Bradford sold the recycling center, he was ready to retire. But another opportunity popped up. This time it involved another material that was in its infancy – aluminum.

Owl’s Head processes 250 tons of aluminum a day. After the $3 million expansion, which should be completed by April 15, Bradford will run three smelting furnaces and will process about 375 tons a day.

Currently, “we couldn’t run another pound if somebody brought it in here,” Bradford said.

Demand for services like Bradford’s has skyrocketed over the last few years as aluminum products become more popular. For example, aluminum is now used for beer bottles and energy drinks, Bradford said.

In fact, the demand is so high that Bradford is opening a new metal processing center. Enter MetalWorks. The $2.1 million, 30,000-square-foot facility will receive, package and ship small quantities of non-magnetic metals.

About 10 percent of the metals Owl’s Head Alloys receives need additional processing. MetalWorks was built to attract small loads of metal and the rest of its materials will come from other sources, Bradford said.

MetalWorks could process up to 6 million to 8 million pounds of lose scrap a month, he said.

So far, Bradford has invested about $16 million into that hay field, he said.

“I enjoy doing things,” he said. “I enjoy opportunities and new and exciting things.”