Richmond Steel Recycling has been in business for over 45 years, with operations starting in the early 1970s. Today Richmond Steel Recycling has four locations in B.C., with feeder yards in Prince George, Fort St. John and Kamloops. At their main yard, located on Mitchell Island, on the Fraser River between Richmond and Vancouver, B.C., they operate the province's only large-scale auto shredder.
Al Roadburg originally founded the business, in part as a response to the fact that in B.C. at the time, there was no place for end-of-life vehicles to be recycled. Scrap vehicles were largely ending up at landfills and piling up at the auto wreckers and "junkyards" of the day. In the mid 1970s the business was sold to a large corporation and the company has been through various corporate owners since. Since the 1990s, the company has been owned as a joint venture between Sims Metal Management and Nucor Corporation. The current general manager of Richmond Steel is Harbinder Dhillon who has been with the company for over 27 years.
"When Al Roadburg started Richmond Steel they installed a shredder and started recycling vehicles," explains John Rai, Richmond Steel Recycling's assistant manager and senior buyer. "The B.C. government helped recyclers at that time to go around the province crushing cars, and then they were transported to Richmond Steel. That was basically the genesis of the company."
Mitchell Island is a high-density industrial park surrounded by the north arm of the Fraser River. Rai says there has always been a lot of auto wreckers on the island and nearby, which is one of the reasons the shredder was originally installed there. The main reason for Richmond Steel's choice of location however, was the specific proximity to a steel mill which was also located on Mitchell Island at the time.
"Vancouver is very limited for industrial space," says Rai. "Over the years, many metal recyclers have opened up here on Mitchell Island. As the only shredder in B.C. currently, we work with recyclers from around Western Canada, Alaska and Washington State, as well as those located around Vancouver and right here on Mitchell Island with us."