In 1968, with two used Dodge pickups, Garvin O'Neal Mintz, Sr., launched Mintz Scrap Iron & Metal on a part-time basis in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Mintz and his son, Garvin O'Neal Jr., were electricians, and could sell the scrap copper wire from their projects and those of others.
Building a $25 Million Family Business
Since then, business has grown steadily. In fact, 2006 and 2007 saw Mintz' revenues reach more than $25 million each year from the sale of packed and processed scrap metal. Last year, though, business declined along with the general economy.
Copper On Credit
"I bought our first load of copper from my boss on credit, took it to Asheville (North Carolina), sold it, and made $90 profit," says O'Neal Mintz Jr. "Back then we made $45 or $50 a week in wages. The foremen got the scrap wire from the electrician's business.
"In 1970 we went full-time," says O'Neal. "We started the business in a little gravel-floored building right here in our current location. We put a couple of magnetic signs on our pickup trucks, and we would go out and get the copper from electrical rewinding shops. Then we picked up the scrap from a couple of textile mills, and from that we began to grow.
"In 1972 we got the scrap iron and metal from what is now Fluor Corp. when they built a steam plant for Duke Power," Mintz continues. "In 1973 we landed the Arrow Automotive plant. They built starters, generators, clutches, water pumps and other components for auto manufacturing. That was a big account that put us on the map. We bought their scrap for 13 years."
Through the eighties and nineties, a mainstay of Mintz' business was to buy the waste nickel from textile mills. At the height of that business, in the late eighties, Mintz bought up to 90,000 pounds of nickel per month from Carolina-based textile mills. "We continued to focus on the non-ferrous metals, rather than to break out into the ferrous end (iron) exclusively," says Mintz. "We did that because I didn't have the money to buy the shears, cranes and other equipment that it takes to work with ferrous scrap.
"So I stayed with the non-ferrous metals, where you could buy the balers, and get started for a lot less money," says Mintz. "We buy copper, aluminum and brass, and bale it up for resale to the mills."
Volvo Construction Equipment's Role
Today, Mintz is a processor and packer of all ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The material is baled and packed, then resold to copper mills, steel mills, ingot makers, and primary and secondary aluminum consumers.
Mintz buys, processes, and sells about 15,000 tons of scrap metal per year. About one-third of that is ferrous scrap, and the rest is non-ferrous, mostly aluminum, says operations manager Larry Hutchins.
"Forty years later, we have a name that covers three states pretty well - North and South Carolina, and Georgia," says Mintz. "Through the years we have done very little advertising and we have no salesmen."