Sadoff Iron and Metal: striving to be the preferred choice

Sadoff Iron and Metal Company is a scrap metal buyer and recycler with some distinct differences. Although Sadoff does purchase some obsolete items like cars and appliances, their main focus is on recycling industrial scrap metal into forms needed by their foundry and steel mill customers. “We primarily focus on recycling industrial scrap (such as low-residual prime steel from stamping) for the foundry industry. This emphasis gives us different products coming off the shredder, including more prime grades of metal,” explained Jason Lasky, executive vice-president of the company.

Jason, with his two brothers Mark (CEO and president) and Bradford (executive vice-president) along with their Father Sheldon, (chairman of the board) lead the 70-year-old, third generation company. The brothers’ Grandfather, Edward Rudoy, started Sadoff in 1947. Rudoy immigrated to America in the 1920’s to escape Bolshevik persecution in the Ukraine. Today, the well-equipped and highly regarded company has eight facilities in Wisconsin and Nebraska, and does business in 40 states plus foreign countries.

When scrap arrives at the Fond du Lac, WI, yard it is checked for radioactivity (it is also checked before exiting) and weighed. Next, massive pieces are lifted onto one of their large machines using a grapple. In this case it is the powerful five-year-old Harris industrial shear where it’s cut to a requested size.

After leaving the huge shear, cut metal moves into an adjacent sort house, where the metal is separated by grade to ensure quality for their foundry customers. Other grades of scrap are sent to other processing equipment like their Hammermill shredder, a behemoth purchased in 1967. The Hammermill has been repeatedly repaired and reconditioned to keep it in good working order, despite the punishing tonnage it shreds. Sadoff recycles about 350,000 net tons of ferrous scrap and 110 million pounds of non-ferrous scrap annually, exporting some of its aluminum and stainless to China and several other countries.

After shredding, non-ferrous residue (mainly aluminum) is separated using an eddy current separator, and residue containing stainless steel is separated using an ISS machine.

Sadoff values being the preferred choice provider for each of its industrial accounts. In practice, this means that the company takes into account each individual customer’s raw material needs, and strives to meet their specifications in chemistry as closely as possible. Unlike many recycling companies, Sadoff makes up customized packages of raw material for recycling in order to fit the needs of its individual customers. This can be exacting and time-consuming work, but by customizing the metal content, density, and piece-size of high-quality metal, the company performs a valuable service for its customers and promotes Sadoff’s goal of becoming their preferred provider. “We place a high value on long-term relationships with customers,” explained Jason Lasky.

“We basically manage the scrap program for these customers, to ensure that their foundries always have the correct and available raw materials they need to run. We have seven sole supply agreements with industrial customers — we call them “exclusive agreements” — as well as agreements with other companies to supply more than half of the raw materials for their foundries and steel mills.

“These customers send us their needs for scrap, and then we either sell them the scrap they need through our eight yards, or we broker materials to meet their individual needs. So we’ve become their one-stop-shop for all their scrap metal sourcing.”

Sadoff takes the responsibility of always being able to provide the raw materials its customers need to keep their foundries running very seriously. “That’s why we keep an inventory of more than $2 million in replacement parts at all times, so that if a machine goes down, we can fix it promptly, continuing to serve our customers’ needs on time.”

What if a company asks for an alloy or a density Sadoff can’t supply? “On the foundry side, we have relationships throughout the country with other dealers, processors, and brokers, and we do our best to find what our foundry and steel mill customers need. They are our base.

“We view this work as part of our primary purpose: to build long-term customer relations and to make sourcing easier for our customers,” said Jason. Brad Lasky continued, “We also look at other innovations — alloys and processes — that we can use to provide quality product at an affordable cost. We’ve even created proprietary products, such as customized scrap blends, for our foundry customers to give them the chemistry they’re looking for at a price that’s acceptable to their operation.”

Those scrap blends can come in many forms, differing in chemistry, density, size, and other characteristics. For example, a blend can come as a mixed truckload of material, or boxes of copper scrap, or as a specially customized and containerized blend. Whatever the form, the raw material is tailored to meet the needs of that particular customer, a service that many Sadoff customers appreciate and their competition is unwilling to provide.

Sadoff is up-front with its customers too. “If there’s something we can’t do for them to help them,” continued Jason, “we’ll try to find the ‘right fit’ solution for them. We’re not always going to be that, and our intent is to create value in the relationship, regardless.

“If another company can help them out and can do it more efficiently, we’re happy to connect the two organizations. We look to keep the customer’s best interest in mind. We view customers as partners, not as adversaries. The value is in the relationship. It all goes back to the long-term partnership that is our goal. If we can help someone in the short term to get by, we hope that in the future, they’ll remember that we’ve created a benefit for them. Then when there is a ‘fit,’ we can become their preferred choice company to meet their needs.”

“We really consider ourselves a relationship company,” Brad Lasky emphasized. “A company can’t survive to the 70-year milestone, or to the third generation as we have, without treating customers (and employees) with the utmost integrity and caring. It’s a value proposition we believe in. It’s how our grandfather operated, how our father operated, and how we operate.”

To be the preferred choice for their customers, Sadoff long ago recognized the need to offer employee programs that would attract and retain the highest quality employees in the industry. “We also needed to become the preferred employer, which in turn creates value for the company.

“Our intent is to create win-win-win situations for everyone. I think this gets back to having a business with a heart — meaning a sense of responsibility. Something our father has always stressed,” continued Jason. Because of this emphasis on being the preferred employer, and the resulting programs provided for employees, Sadoff has a stunningly high percentage of workers who have spent decades, and in some cases, their whole careers with the company. Frequent employee turnover with the constant need to train replacements is not problem at Sadoff.

The third generation of family members — Mark, Jason, and Brad Lasky — continue to believe in the somewhat counterintuitive concept of placing value on long-term relationships rather than on individual transactions. They have seen through the years that in the long run, this is best for everyone involved.

They follow this same practice on the supply side of their business through their “[Co+]Efficient Program,” which Jason describes as a program for adding value to their relationships with their suppliers with the goal of greater efficiency. “Under this program, when we go into our industrial accounts, we look at ways they could be more efficient in their scrap handling or could get a better return on the scrap they produce, by sorting it better, for example.

“We agree to provide needed capital equipment that they may not be able to get through their CFO or their Board — such as scales, security cameras and anti-theft systems; or worker-safety improvements. Our intention is that these will be paid for over time by the extra profit they’ll make through our contractual relationship of, say, two years or five years. We’ll say, We can put these in as an asset for you, and you can utilize them over the life of the contract so you don’t have to ask your company for dollars. In that way, we’re able to assist with desired capital improvements.”

Might Sadoff sometimes take a loss? “It’s possible,” replied Jason. “Basically, we stand behind our intent, and we honor our intent, but yes, there have been times when it hasn’t worked out in our favor. But again, we look at our relations with our suppliers as a long-term partnership, not as transactional business. Our goal is for everyone to win. We need each other (in order) to be successful, right? That’s the value we bring to our customer base.”

Some proof that their win-win-win concept of doing business works: at 70 years young, Sadoff Iron and Metal is currently the largest privately-owned recycling business based in the state of Wisconsin, with a large and stable supplier and customer base. In addition, the company is experiencing continuing growth and diversification.


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