YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In the eight years since it opened, Southside Recycling has become the place to take household scrap.
Sure, the company also buys metals from contractors and industrial plants. But it’s carved out a niche as a collection site for everyday folks to exchange old appliances and other unwanted items for cash.
Kenny Greco of Youngstown started the company in 2014 after buying a steel warehouse at 98 E. Florida Ave., Youngstown, from his father.
His family had long been in the industrial recycling business, but Greco wanted to forge a different customer base.
“I always liked the street traffic,” he says. “I still deal with large companies, but I would rather have 5,000 individuals [as customers] than three big companies, to feed my family.”
Greco says this sets his company apart, and fulfilled the vision he had when starting the company.
“Junkyards have a [bad] reputation,” he says. “There’s a pitbull, it’s grimy, you can get a flat tire there, you have to unload it yourself.
“I wanted this to be more like a drive-thru.”
It’s working. During one morning earlier this month, a driver pulled in every five or 10 minutes, paused on the scale, waited for the scrap to be unloaded, and then picked up his check.
Monitors are in place so the driver can watch his scrap being unloaded by Southside staff, ensuring transparency.
Likewise, Southside staffers do a quick computer background check on each customer and will refuse the load if he has a criminal record. That’s because stolen copper wire and other valuable scrap is often taken to scrapyards.
“Have we ever [unwittingly] accepted stolen scrap?,” Greco rhetorically asks. “Probably. But we do more than anyone to prevent it.”
Greco says he maintains open communication with the Youngstown Police, watching for – and reporting – scrap that is stolen.
Southside Recycling does not accept catalytic converters under any circumstances. “If they brought them here, they’re stolen,” Greco says.
Southside Recycling is one of the few places in the area that accepts junked household electronics. It takes computers, monitors, cell phones, laptops, batteries, power strips and televisions – although he has to charge to take some of those items.
The fee for a flat screen TV is $1 per diagonal inch of the screen.
The purpose is twofold: It keeps these hazardous, lead-containing items out of landfills and it brings in new metals customers.
“It’s like a loss leader for me,” Greco says. “People will bring in a television, but also throw in scrap they have around the house and get paid for it.”
Greco sends all electronics to an Indiana company that charges him a fee.
Southside Recycling also accepts all types of metals, including aluminum. Piles of scrap, separated by type, are arranged in the company’s massive building, with almost all of it going to mills and scrap metal brokers in Pittsburgh, Greco says.
Sheet metal is sent to a local shredding company, where it eventually winds up at the Vallourec mill in Youngstown, and recycled.
When Greco is not busy at Southside Recycling, he has a side gig as a rock singer-songwriter. He has released three albums, including “Loose Ends,” which came out this year and garnered airplay on The Summit radio 90.7 FM.
Greco will release a four-song EP later this year.
Pictured at top: The staff of Southside Recycling is Juan Velez, Kenny Greco, Andrew Kemmer and Rob Mitchell.