Adam Weitsman, 45, has built an empire out of metal.
The largest privately owned scrap metal processing and recycling operation on the East Coast, Upstate Shredding has its headquarters in Owego, where Weitsman grew up. Weitsman has been in the metal-shredding business for years, but now his business has expanded to the Capital Region.
In 1938, Weitsman’s grandfather founded Ben Weitsman & Son Inc., Upstate Shredding’s sister company. The business was taken over by Weitsman’s father, and Weitsman acquired it from his dad in 2005.
In 1996, Weitsman began talks to start a new business called Upstate Shredding. It became a reality six months later when Upstate Shredding opened on a 17-acre site at the Tioga County Industrial Park in Owego. It has continued to expand not only in Owego but along the East Coast ever since.
“The company was originally more like an auto parts thing back in the day,” Weitsman said. “The company is the same in the sense of customer service. It has just grown, as we can pay the highest for scrap.”
In 2012, Weitsman finalized plans for a $15 million port facility in Albany. The Port of Albany facility and scrap yard opened about six months ago and has already made a name for itself. Upstate Shredding remains in Owego, and Ben Weitsman of Albany is in the Capital Region. They are all part of the same family of companies and owned by Weitsman, but their names reflect their locations. The plan is to have a shredder in operation at the Albany site this April, according to Weitsman.
“We needed deep-water access, No. 1,” he said about the Port of Albany. “And No. 2, Albany was an area we didn’t get as much scrap from, so we needed a location there. We didn’t have a presence in the Capital District.”
The scrap metal Ben Weitsman acquires and shreds is sold to steel mills across the country. The Albany port furthers his expansion plans, as it will allow him to export to Turkey, India and the Far East.
“We will be able to ship internationally,” he said.
The scrap the company receives mostly comes from municipalities and the general public. It also gets scrap metal from retail operations, manufacturing facilities and businesses. The scrap can be anything from old appliances to toasters to junk cars. The business is open seven days a week and pays for scrap the same day.
Upstate Shredding currently operates in 15 locations including Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo and Ithaca. It has approximately 400 employees total, according to Weitsman, 30 of them at the Port of Albany. When the shredder is operational, they will add 30 more there.
“We definitely underestimated the business we would get there,” he said about Albany. “We are definitely thankful and blessed we have been supported in that area.”
Weitsman said he had estimated that the company would have 150 to 200 customers and businesses a day looking to sell their scrap metal in Albany. But they have seen 350 to 400 customers a day, and they expect that number to rise in the spring.
“We are just very appreciative,” he said.
“We plan on taking a lot of the profits and keeping them in the region.”
Weitsman said the company plans to invest in the Capital Region, too.
“We are going to concentrate a lot up in that area,” he said. “We are definitely excited to be up there.”