Monday, May 20, 2013
CHELSEA -- First it was towing cars, then it was crushing cars.
Johnny Clark's family has expanded their scrap business to Chelsea with the opening of Eastside Scrap.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy
Now, Clark's Cars & Parts, which deals primarily in recycling scrap metal, has opened a second metal recycling/processing site, this time on the east side of the Kennebec River.
Clark's Eastside Scrap started collecting metal last week on a 5-acre parcel that abuts Paul's Pick-A-Part.
"It's a better location," said owner and operator John Clark from his Outlet Road site in Farmingdale, which is near the Hallowell line. "It's on the main road, and I'm out in rural Hallowell. I'm kind of hard to find."
He's also had to deal with posted weight limits on the roads each spring.
Clark said he also decided to open a new location after the OneSteel's Augusta yard closed in January. It has since reopened.
Clark, 58, started in the junk business in 1973.
His two sites are 12 miles apart, he said, and should attract sellers from different areas, with people from Greene, Monmouth and Livermore heading to Farmingdale -- which will be known as Clark's Westside Scrap -- and those from Vassalboro, Rockland and Wiscasset coming to Chelsea.
"It's something that I think will work," Clark said.
Once the metal is separated and processed, it is taken to other locations, and the metal recycled in central Maine could very likely go to China -- the country, not the nearby town.
"Chinese buyers come here every six or seven weeks," Clark said. "They stop here fairly often and they buy semi loads. They send the trucks (with sea containers) up from Jersey or Boston, and we load the things and they go right to China."
Clark said he made the overseas connection at a trade convention in Las Vegas a few years ago.
At Clark's Eastside Scrap, hot water heaters, lawnmower decks, filing cabinets, ovens and mufflers populate one pile. A second pile contains heavier, rusted iron items, including engine blocks.
He said the Farmingdale yard has a lot more activity, but Clark's was paying better prices during opening week for metals on the east side to try to get people accustomed to the new site. "We're not making much money this week at this location," said John Clark's son, Johnny Clark, 32, of Farmingdale.
Clark's was paying $2.90 a pound for bright copper in Chelsea, John Clark said. In Farmingdale it was $2.60 a pound.
Light iron or white metal holds less value.
A separate building holds the more precious metals, including copper and aluminum and brass.
Clark's tracks AmericanMetalMarket for a glimpse of the world trade. Recently, the AMM.com website commodities trends showed tin prices rising and platinum prices slipping.
"People that we're selling to are going by the world market," Johnny Clark said.
Clark invested $10,000 in security for his new location to help ensure that all the metal he buys and sells is acquired legally. Both locations, as with other metal recyclers in central Maine, have cameras that record both vehicles and patrons, as well as photocopies of licenses of those bringing the metal.
The eastside Clark site has state-of-the-art equipment designed to foil thieves and to allow legitimate scrappers to get money for their metal.
"We're pretty strict on the people we deal with," John Clark said. "We've weeded out a lot of people. Thieves know better than to come here."
Johnny Clark, who divides his time between driving tractor-trailers of metal south and office work, showed his real-time access to all the camera angles on his phone. He's one of five Clark family members among the 10 employees.
"One good things about the cameras we've put in is that everyone that drives on the scale, they tell what they're driving." Johnny Clark said. "The camera's recording everything"
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