Queen City Metals

CLARKSVILLE, TENN., SCRAP COMPANY EXPANDS WITH RETAIL SIDE, AUTO PARTS BUSINESS

Feb 19, 2013

Komatsu machines - fuel-efficient and durable

When the government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program was established in 2009, the management team at Queen City Metals decided it was good timing for expansion. The Clarksville company bought an adjacent property and began taking in old cars with a sister business known as Pick-A-Part, which offers auto parts for sale.

“It’s something we thought about doing for quite some time, and Cash for Clunkers really gave us the incentive,” said Operations Manager Caleb Cherry, noting that customers can either pull a part themselves or Pick-A-Part will do it for a fee. “We really thought that once the program was done, the business would drop off. That hasn’t been the case. It’s proven to be a good move for us.”

An even better move took place about five years ago, when Queen City Metals set itself up as a retail scrap location, allowing the public and contractors to bring materials to its yard just off Interstate 24 on the north edge of Clarksville. It’s the same location where Caleb’s father, Mike, and business partners Jeff Purvis and Greg Guinn set up shop in 1993.

“For most of our existence we strictly catered to industrial clients,” said Mike Cherry. “By expanding beyond that, our stream of ferrous and nonferrous materials really increased. To be honest, we had some growing pains, but we overcame them.”

Overcoming a challenge was nothing new for Mike and his business partners. When they decided to open Queen City Metals, he had no experience in the scrap business. Guinn and Purvis had a background in trucking.

“Many people thought we were crazy, especially since we would be in competition with a large scrap company that really had the corner on the market,” recalled Mike. “But I wanted that challenge. We started knocking on doors, and eventually clients came on board. We had so many say yes, that we weren’t sure how we were going to handle it all.”

Queen City Metals began setting up roll-off boxes at its industrial customers’ locations and started picking them up with its trailer. The company bought a used machine for processing the scrap. Today, Queen City Metals has about 20 of its own trucks that travel within about a 200-mile radius to collect materials. It also offers on-site scrap processing for customers, if the volume is large enough.

Once processed at Queen City Metals’ yard, the company uses its own trucks or outside trucking companies to move materials to customers throughout North America and to ports for overseas delivery.

“Much of our business has been built on relationships, and we’ve developed many through the years,” said Caleb. “That includes our customers on the other end of the business, such as mills, which rely on us to deliver quality bales of metal that meet their specifications, whether by material size or metal content. They trust us, and that’s why they continue to use us.”

Komatsu, Genesis a good combination

With expansions, space became a premium at Queen City Metals’ 27-acre site. A few years ago, the company began looking for equipment that would meet its production requirements in a limited work area. Working with Power Equipment Company and Customer Support Representative Lee Batey, the scrap processor began acquiring Komatsu excavators. It currently has a PC400LC equipped with a clam bucket and two PC220LCs with Genesis shears.

“The PC220s with the Genesis shears have really increased our production,” reported Customer Relations Manager Vern Harris. “We had some older processors and they just weren’t fast enough. The Genesis shears alleviated that problem, and the Komatsu excavators have excellent hydraulic power to run them. The PC220 size allows us to cut materials from one pile and get to another with limited movement. That’s a big advantage.”

Fleet Manager Ben Britt said that’s not the only advantage. “The Komatsu machines are very fuel-efficient, so we’re saving from that standpoint. This is a tough application, and they’re very durable. From a maintenance standpoint, the Komatsus are very easy to service.”

Queen City Metals handles routine services on the machines, calling on Power Equipment as needed for help. “Lee and everyone we’ve dealt with at Power Equipment have gone above and beyond to make sure we are satisfied with the initial purchase and beyond,” said Britt. “They stand behind their machinery, and when we need parts they have them on hand. We can tell they’re very focused on customer satisfaction.”

Customer satisfaction never changes

Queen City Metals now has a staff of about 60 employees, up from before its expansions and significantly higher than the earliest days, when Mike Cherry, Greg Guinn and Jeff Purvis started by doing all the work themselves. The company’s goal, according to Caleb Cherry, is to turn around the thousands of tons of materials it takes in within a month’s time.

“The expansions helped, but we believe a big part of the reason our volume has grown, and continues to, is because we deal honestly with our customers,” said Caleb. “For many years, scrap processing had a negative reputation for not dealing fairly with its customers. We’re proving that perception to be wrong. No matter how the metals come into our yard, whether from an individual bringing in cans or a car, or an industrial customer with a roll-off box, we treat them with the same customer satisfaction focus we’ve always had. That will never change.”