From scrap yard to recycling yard

By Norman Gossett
UNC-CH Staff Writer
The Durham VOICE

Tucked over behind a wooded lot between Angier Ave. and the railroad is an old scrap yard known to the old-timers as Sid Rancer’s scrap yard. One had to turn onto Briggs Ave. to find the gate to Sid’s old place. Five years ago, the scrap yard was a nasty mud hole with old motor oil from junked cars seeping into the ground.

Fran Rush looks up from her computer as she reads a Durham Voice article. (Staff photo by Norman Gossett, Jr.)

Returning to same location revealed something totally unexpected: a modern recycling yard. Where there had once been a black, gummy hillside there was now a concrete slab. Neat rows of recyclables were separated into ferrous and nonferrous metals. Stacks of scrap computers stood bundled and ready for shipping.

Turning greasy, dirty recyclables into a green, environmentally friendly business is not an easy task.  It requires an incredible amount of effort just to sort and organize the various recyclables that must be clean of contaminates. As they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Fran Rush, co-owner of Always Buying Scrap, said, “We’ve been here for about two years.”

The amount of work necessary to improve the property to its current condition was incredible. “My husband, Dave, had a scrap yard in New York for 20 years,” Fran Rush explained. “When the city claimed the property through eminent domain, we decided to move down here to be with Dave’s parents.”

Fran Rush said that getting into another scrap metal business “just sorta happened.” “We didn’t have any plans to get back into recycling when we moved to Durham.”

Dave Rush remembered the effort that went into stabilizing the muddy ground. “We had to invest an incredible amount of money to fill in the low areas with broken brick and concrete block. Then the lot was paved with concrete.”

Dave Rush surveys his yard as he keeps everything in its place. (Staff photo by Norman Gossett, Jr.)

Dave Rush walked over to the nonferrous side of the yard to showcase the automatic payment machine, which better serves his customers. “It costs $70,000, but without it you’d have to write a check for every transaction dealing with nonferrous metals over $100.”

“Nonferrous metals are worth much more than ferrous metals,” Dave Rush explained, “Nonferrous metals are where you make your money.”

There was a line of customers waiting to sell cans, aluminum, copper and other nonferrous metals. The recyclables were put on a small set of digital scales, which spat out a ticket with the transaction details. The computer was able to keep a current inventory right up to the last transaction.

In the large stacks of banded metal, regular domestic items such as a tire iron or the old lawnmower are waiting to be shipped to a processor to be melted into steel or aluminum ingots.

Dave Rush remarked, “You could open your car door some day and the metal in it may have been collected right here.”

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2 thoughts on “From scrap yard to recycling yard

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  2. I grew up on Briggs avenue, right up the street from sid ‘s old place and just knew that one day the yard would blow up and the whole neighborhood would perish from toxic poisoning, a few times a welders torch would ignite something, but the Durham fire department was just up the street and saw the thick black smoke and responded without being called.Glad to hear the place has been converted to a useful entity,but I hate to think what’s bubbling underneath that concrete and the ground water table. Good Lucky to the Ruth’s. McClain

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