Recycling Exports, American Dreams

The SA Recycling terminal at the Port of Los Angeles is helping the country to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years. It is also a facility that makes dreams come true.

SA Recycling on Monday celebrated its 50th anniversary. The company operates 50 facilities in California, Arizona and Nevada, with its facilities in Los Angeles and Long Beach exporting scrap metal to countries around the world.

The most noticeable feature of the recycling terminal is how clean it is. While huge cranes scooped bundles of scrap onto a conveyor belt and through the facility for vessel loading, local dignitaries sat nearby listening to speeches.

“This facility is a decade ahead of the industry,” said Cindy Miscikowski, president of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners. “It’s not the junk yard of the past,” she said.

SA Recycling President George Adams boasted about the environmentally-friendly features of the facility such as the regenerative thermal oxidizer that controls volatile organic compounds and reduces nitrogen oxide emissions, and the storm water recovery system. They certainly made munching sweets and sipping coffee amid mountains of scrap metal an enjoyable experience.

Imports outnumber exports at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by a factor of more than two to one, but SA Recycling is proud to be part of the exporting minority, shipping more than 1 million tons a year of scrap metal to China, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Turkey.

Adams is most proud, however, of the employees. Many of the workers joined the company two, three, even four decades ago and have spent their entire careers on the terminal.

Moises Figueroa, regional general manager, left Peru 22 years ago because of political and economic developments in his homeland. He plans to finish out his career at SA Recycling because the company empowers its employees to take ownership of the facility and do what they think is best to make it operate efficiently. “This is the best company to work for,” Figueroa said.

SA Recycling took the opportunity to honor an employee who has been there almost since the facility was founded. Pancho Rojas began working at the Terminal Island facility 44 years ago. His job has allowed him to provide for his family and send his children to college.

“I want to work here for another 44 years. This is my American dream,” Rojas said.

-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bmongelluzzo@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @billmongelluzzo.

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