Located in Hamilton, the heart of Canada’s steel industry, AIM Ontario is a state-of-the-art metal facility, recovering scrap metal by-products for valuable and reusable raw materials. AIM collects, sorts, weighs, processes and recycles ferrous metals (such as scrap iron and steel) and non-ferrous metals (such as copper, aluminum, stainless steel and other alloys).
Although the company only set up shop in Ontario five years ago, AIM Ontario already had a reputable brand preceding it. AIM Ontario is a division of the Canadian-owned American Iron & Metal group of Companies, an organization that has served the metals industry since 1936. Headquartered in Montreal, American Iron & Metal has a number of divisions located across Canada and the United States.
Stephen Mangotich is the general manager of AIM Ontario’s new 65,000-square-foot non-ferrous warehouse. Before starting at the company, Mangotich had worked in a steel mill for 10 years. Then he met up with Herb and Ron Black, the brothers who own American Iron & Metal. The Black brothers agreed to expand the operation into Ontario, with Mangotich’s help. As one of North America’s largest scrap generating and scrap consuming areas, southern Ontario was a logical decision.
“The company was officially founded in April of 2005,” Mangotich recalls, “which was originally located in a brokerage office. It took us over two years to find a facility that fit into the plan that Herb and Ron had in mind. We finally moved into our new building in 2007. Since then, we have added another 26,000 square feet to the warehouse, built new offices and added new equipment, including a Harris non-ferrous baler and Sierra shear baler, radiation detection systems on all inbound and outbound entrances to the facility. We also renovated the rail line with the capacity to hold 10 rail cars.”
With top-of-the-line equipment and facilities, AIM Ontario strives for the highest quality and is well positioned to serve industrial, dealer and retail scrap metal industry.
AIM Ontario brings in and ensures maximum value for every type and grade of scrap metal, sourcing from three places. “We purchase scrap metal from retail, wholesale and industrial sectors,” says Mangotich. “Retail is cash-on-the-spot delivery from a homeowner, or what we call peddler, which is a contractor who has excess supplies. We have installed an automated dispensing machine, so when an individual sells us scrap metal, he or she receives a barcode, goes to the ATM, scans the code and receives the money. We don’t handle or hold any cash in the facility.”
The wholesale or dealer supplies are from direct mill deliveries and agency agreements. With private fleet railcars readily available, AIM Ontario can also offer dealers an alternative market to ship at more attractive pricing.
“The third category is industrial or prompt scrap, which is generated on a daily basis,” tells Mangotich. “The best example of this would be from auto stamping. The scrap bits that are leftover from a door or trunk mould will come here.” With a fleet of Kenworth trucks, trailers, steel dumps trailers, lugger and roll-off container service, AIM can meet the needs of all its industrial accounts. Special conveyors and custom fabrication services are also available.
“All three sources are key components to our business,” Mangotich maintains. “We service all of these components in a state-of-the-art fashion.” AIM Ontario’s site is fully concreted, providing clean, efficient off loads, high security and five certified scales with digital displays— all to provide quick and accurate service.
Investing in success
For an operation that has only been in the province for five years, AIM Ontario is doing very well in the market. According to Mangotich, that success has everything to do with the Black brothers. “They have always committed to reinvesting into the company,” he says. “And that has ensured we are always on the leading edge in technology and equipment. We spend the time to research and make sure that everything we buy is the best available, which means purchasing the appropriate tools and supplies for all of our employees to make sure they can do their job well.”
“Our management understands that if we invest in the latest and best, all we have to worry about is keeping staff motivated and trained,” continues Mangotich. “We don’t have to think about maximum productivity, because there is less down time spent on repair. Instead, it’s all preventative maintenance. There’s no question about [the Blacks’] commitment is the key to our success.”
Having spent over $1.5 million on concreting the entire seven-acre site—something rarely seen in the scrap metal business—the Blacks have made their dedication highly apparent. It’s not only money that the family has put into the operation; they have also developed a culture of work-life balance. “Herb and Ron are invested in the employees and their quality of life,” says Mangotich. “They get to know everyone and make sure things are going well onsite and off.”
Only up from here
When manufacturing sectors took a hit in 2008-2009, AIM Ontario was able to stand firm and offset the contraction of industrial accounts through growth and supplier diversification. Now that Canada is pulling out of the recession, AIM is more poised than ever to realise its full potential.
“We have experienced tremendous success in our foundational years,” says Mangotich. “When AIM Ontario moved into the new building, we were at 40 per cent site capacity within six months, on the ferrous side. Within two years, we reached 65 per cent capacity. And even though we experienced the affects of the downturn, we maintained our strong position. Today, we’re running at approximately 70 per cent. For the non-ferrous side, we commissioned our non-ferrous baler in May 2008, and we’re already running at 40 per cent. Finally, our retail side, which opened in July 2009, is running at 55 per cent capacity.”
“We expect that, by the end of 2010, we will run at 85 to 90 per cent capacity in all areas,” adds Mangotich. Judging by how AIM Ontario has run the business so far, there is no doubt he will be right.