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The life operation that could: Acme Refining defies naysayers using a pair of productive balers to grow the nonferrous side of its business.

While Acme Refining has established itself as a major player in the Chicago-area ferrous recycling market, for decades the nonferrous side of its business was, if not ignored, certainly not pursued. "The main focus of Acme has always been our ferrous operation; the nonferrous just came along with it," says Joe Saeli, president of Acme's nonferrous division. "In fact, when I started, we used to sell our nonferrous to local dealers, not even to the mills--the volumes just weren't there," he says.

"But the nonferrous department has grown tremendously; now it is something to which we are definitely committed," Saeli adds.

The company's traditional ferrous grades created include auto cast and busheling for foundries as well as No. 1 dealer bundles and No. 1 heavy melt grades for steel mills.

The plate and structural grade is among the commodities resulting from Acme's focus on serving the demolition industry, which also includes the removal of obsolete machinery.

Nonferrous grades commonly handled by Acme Refining include all grades of red metals, aluminum clips, bales and dry chips, stainless clips and turnings and nickel alloys.

The 34-year-old company serves its customers through six Facilities located throughout northern Illinois, with two plants in Chicago plus facilities in Alsip, Elgin, Joliet and Lake Bluff, Ill.

Several of the locations are used as transfer stations, allowing Acme to serve its customers quickly while centralizing its processing operations and costs.

Part of the apprehension regarding Acme's entry into the nonferrous arena could have been caused by the site at which it chose to center that operation--its 34th Street plant on Chicago's south side.

TIGHT SQUEEZE. "That site offers just a little over 20,000 square feet of available processing area on a total of five acres," says Saeli. "I was repeatedly told by people in this industry that I could never run a baling operation in that building because of its size."

Saeli continues, "I'd say we've proven them wrong. Not only are we running a full-service nonferrous processing site, but we have two machines in there and another one on the way."

Acme solved its space restriction problem by installing one MAC Model 5200 baler from Granutech-Saturn Systems Corp. of Grand Prairie, Texas. As Acme's volumes increased, the company added a second MAC to handle the material.

According to Tony Lucatorto, the company's nonferrous operations manager, the balers have met Acme Refining's challenges on a number of levels.

"The footprint for the baler is small, so it worked into this space nicely. So nicely in fact, that we have two units in a space most people thought we couldn't get one, Lucatorto says.

SMALL BUT MIGHTY. Lucatorto says, "However, the size of the baler really doesn't indicate how productive they are. We run about a million pounds of nonferrous through those two balers each month--mostly industrial scrap from area plants--and they put out an excellent 12-inch-by-12-inch-by-variable-length bale. The commodity we are running or the mill to which we are selling the material, determines how tightly or loosely we want to compress each bale, and the 5200 works for us in that regard, as well," he says. "Bale densities can be altered through a simple adjustment in pressure settings."

Lucatorto continues, "These units are really the backbone of this operation."

Saeli concurs. "I set up the nonferrous division as my first project when I came to Acme Refining about 13 years ago," he says. "We worked hard to build it through acquisition of area companies, started selling directly to the mills and have never looked back. There's little doubt that the MAC balers have played a huge role in helping bring that about."

The author submitted this piece on behalf of Granutech-Saturn Systems. He can be contacted at trojak@usinternet, co.
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Title Annotation:COMPANY PROFILE
Author:Trojak, Larry
Publication:Recycling Today
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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