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Grimes Iron & Metal elevates its operations with strategic equipment investments

What initially started out as a car-crushing service and salvage yard eventually expanded to include a scrapyard. Grimes Iron & Metal

Nestled in the dusty plains of Odessa, Texas, lies a scrapyard with a rich history spanning back to the early 1980s. With Bill Grimes at the helm of what initially started out as a car-crushing service and salvage yard, Grimes Iron & Metal made a name for itself. When Bill's son Travis urged him to expand his operations to include a scrapyard, the business gained momentum, growing to encompass 10 of the yard's 16 acres, with still more room to expand.  

"[Travis'] dad was real worried that this area would dry up of metal," says Billy Grimes, the yard's crew foreman and Travis' son. "But considering how much metal comes through the scrapyards - and how many there are around here - this town has never run out of scrap. It's a big oil field town, and convincing his dad to come out here and start this yard was probably the best decision he ever made. For this type of business, out here is literally a gold mine."

But even the most promising ideas can succumb to the unpredictable nature of the industry. The Grimes yard faced its share of trials, leading to intermittent closures over the years. In 2009, Travis Grimes took over full-time and breathed life back into the business with little more than the remnants of scrap metal left behind, and he hasn't looked back since.

"When he started it back up, he would literally sell all the material that came in. He would have to stop the yard, go get his money from the people he sells to, go to the bank, get it in cash, come back, and open the yard back up so he could buy more material," says yard foreman Revel Wilson. "He would not stop."

Today, the Grimes Iron & Metal yard stands as a sprawling testament to that revival, with an extensive equipment lineup and a reputation for above and beyond customer service that has played a critical role in its enduring success.

"[Travis] had a mindset when he started this that anything he bought, he wasn't going to buy it until he could pay cash for it. He didn't want to finance anything, and he stuck with that motto probably all the way up until about 2014," says Billy.

Nina Grimes, Revel Wilson, and Billy Grimes Grimes Iron & Metal

Securing scrap 

In the early days, the Grimes team took its car-crushing endeavors statewide through Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Car crushing still remains a central part of Grimes Iron & Metal's business today, with 90 percent of the cars now coming from the Midland-Odessa area. 

"We buy cars from pretty much any salvage yard that salvages parts. Any of them in the area. That's a lot," says Nina Grimes, operations manager and Travis' daughter. "Yes, people bring cars into the yard, but most of our cars come from those salvage yards."

Grimes Iron & Metal processes a diverse range of metals from an equally diverse set of sources including drop-off recycling, car pickup, and construction site box services. With over 200 collection boxes on the go, Grimes Iron & Metal facilitates the pickup, purchasing, and subsequent processing of the materials for its customers.

"If you go to a lot of the real big companies that are in scrap metal recycling, they pay you, get you out, and you're just another customer number. We're one of the few that actually let people come in and look around and see if there's anything they want to buy, so they can resell it and turn a profit, or if it's something they need personally," says Billy. "We tend to treat the customers that come in our yard as if they were one of our friends that we've known for a long time."

Grimes Iron & Metal's open-yard approach is distinctive compared to many scrapyards, and, according to Nina Grimes, is just one of the ways the team strives to foster personal relationships.

"Our biggest thing is our customer service, because without our customers, we ain't nothing," says Nina. "We pride ourselves on trying to be customer-oriented above all else. To make sure that not just we are making money, but our customers, too."

The scrapyard encompasses 10 of Grimes Iron & Metal's 16 acres, with still more room to expand. Grimes Iron & Metal

A versatile lineup

With an equipment lineup including 11 trucks, five magnets, three grapples, a mobile shear, an air shear, two balers, and two crushers, Grimes Iron & Metal is a formidable force when it comes to processing both ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

"If we get big pieces of aluminum, cables, ACSR, or anything that's more on the precious side, we separate it and sell that separately," says Wilson. "We have an RB6000 Sierra baler strictly just for tin, and we have another one that bales all of our precious metals. Before we got the second RB6000, we would have to stop baling tin for pretty much a whole day, maybe two days, just to bale all of our precious metals. But now we can bale tin all day, and then our RB6000 will bale all the extra stuff like aluminum cans, ACSR, extrusion, sheet aluminum, copper, and sometimes brass. Anything that's bendable, pretty much."

With a diverse range of metals arriving in various forms and conditions, it's not always smooth sailing when it comes to maintaining the quality and purity of scrap. Factors such as metal contamination and varying grades of alloys complicate the process, demanding meticulous attention to detail and a deep understanding of the variables at play.

"What we run into is that some people will bring in dirty aluminum. Now, it's our job to figure out if it's going to be worth it to clean that little bit of aluminum to sell as clean aluminum, or if we want to just sell it as dirty," says Wilson. "We also have a gun that tests all types of metals. Say we get a lot of stainless steel rods that come in. We'll go through with that gun and we'll shoot them. What type it is depends on how we can sell it, because if we put 316 stainless in a 304 box, we'll be losing money because 316 would be more money for us in the long run."

The T409 plays a versatile role at the yard, from loading and unloading trucks, to feeding materials into the Sierra T715SLK shear/baler/logger. Grimes Iron & Metal

Expanding the fleet

In the words of Travis Grimes, "If you ain't growing, you're dying." 

Reinforcing its historical commitment to expanding its capabilities and catering to evolving demands, Grimes Iron & Metal recently welcomed a new piece of equipment - a Sierra T409 material handler – to its fleet.

The T409 plays a versatile role at the yard, from loading and unloading trucks, to general material handling, to feeding materials into the Sierra T715SLK shear/baler/logger. While Grimes Iron & Metal previously used bigger machines for these tasks, Wilson says the size of the T409 eliminates a number of logistical challenges. 

"It's a good machine to take off the yard just because of the weight. You don't have to get an oversized permit ticket for it. You don't have to take the grapple off or anything. You can put it right on a flatbed trailer and it sits low enough where you ain't going to worry about it hitting a bridge," says Wilson. "We chose it specifically because we like Sierra, honestly. Then like I said, you don't have to dismantle it to go anywhere. It also has tires instead of tracks, which is something we're trying to get into more. More tires than track machines."

When it comes to serviceability, Revel says that while greasing and servicing certain machines, especially those with grapples, can be tricky, the T409 has eliminated many of those previous pain points.

"With this one, they literally have everything on the bottom level. You don't have to climb up, climb down, or anything like that. The only time you have to climb up there is if you have to put diesel, hydraulic, or DEF in it. Besides that, it has an automatic greaser that's down on the bottom, and on all the other automatic greasers, you have to climb up top. All the grease ports are right on the bottom. Even the grapple itself is super easy compared to other grapples I've had to grease before."

Grimes Iron & Metal's equipment lineup includes 11 trucks, five magnets, three grapples, a mobile shear, an air shear, two bales, and two crushers. Grimes Iron & Metal

Scrapping success

Today, the Grimes yard is not just a scrapyard - it's a symbol of the transformative potential of human connection, determination, and a dash of humour in the often mechanized world of metal recycling. 

"I think in this business you just can't become complacent," says Billy. "As soon as you do, then you're really going to have a hard time growing and moving on in the future."

As Grimes Iron & Metal continues to write its story, one thing remains clear: its legacy of resilience, innovation, and a steadfast dedication to nurturing relationships will continue to set it apart.

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