Bates Recycling is tearing it up


CYGNET — The big man still has a look like he’s been loading steel off a forklift by hand, but those days
are over for Bates Recycling.
That’s because the machines used to tear, shear and shred metals have continued to grow with the size of
the company.
“We’ve had some presses over 100,000 pounds and injection molding machines that had to be broken down
before bringing them in,” said Chris Bates, owner of Bates Recycling. “We just bid on two that are about
450,000 pounds each.”
Bates Recycling is owned by Chris and Belinda Bates. Chris manages the operation and is equally
comfortable behind the controls of a shearing backhoe that can cut apart a dump truck and a scale.
Belinda is behind the computer screen running the new 2,000-square-foot office space.
He keeps a clean yard.
“A messy yard is a dangerous situation,” Bates said.
His claw machine is not a toy.
“We’ve got a shearing machine that can shear up a quarry construction truck.”
While it may look unorganized, the various piles of similarly sourced materials are few and distinct.
Bates said he concentrates on quickly moving materials out to his buyers.
“Yards with big piles have small bank accounts.”
Tearing things apart and selling the pieces might sound simple, but Bates Recycling is a high-tech
He demonstrated the Olympus Analyzer, a gun-shaped unit that determines the elemental compounds in some
very dense pieces of shiny metal. The analyzer said the rings of “steel” are exotic metals: tungsten
carbide and yellow brass, the exact percentages of the component compounds displayed on a small computer
screen on the back of the unit.
Bates just has to point the unit and pull the trigger to know what he’s got. The $15,000 machine would
have been inconceivable in the beginning of the business.
He started with his F-250 pick-up truck as his office. He also had some heavy equipment and a couple of
drilling rigs.
The couple officially incorporated in 2005 with three employees. They now have 11.
“I was broke, but I had this equipment and one thing led to another,” Bates said. “I had one torch and a
pick-up truck — and I had to borrow the $100 to buy the torch.”
He cut up those units and sold them for scrap.
Distance becomes an issue with weight, so they sell their scrap to relatively local locations, going only
as far as Monroe, Michigan, and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
They work in elements: iron, copper, brass, stainless steel and aluminum, as well as carbide and coated
copper. Some of their sources include plate and structural steel, wire, whole cars and construction
Change is a constant in the scrap business. Bates believes that if a business is not growing, then things
are not going well, because some buyers and sellers are going to disappear every year.
He is up on reading the recycling business journals and keeping up on computer technology, separation
methods, environmental compliance and security.
Gone are the days of carrying around a wad of cash and dealing with the questionable individuals
portrayed in movies, but those individuals exist. He keeps a good relationship with Homeland Security
and Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn. His modern security measures are tight at his scales.
“I’d have to say my favorite part of the business is selling the iron at the beginning of the month or
moving and breaking down a big complicated piece of equipment,” Bates said.
As much as he loves the horse trading part of the day, he also likes to see how things have gotten
progressively easier on his employees. Less and less is done by hand and more is done with heavy
machinery and increased efficiency.
Bates recently purchased a couple more trailer pulling trucks and containers. He knows what a shipment
weighs when it leaves his facility, but typically has to guess about the weight of loads he picks up.
The smaller containers help with those estimates and let the auditor know he is a good steward of the
“I know this is going to sound odd from a businessman, but I like working with the government. Government
is a good thing,” Bates said. “I like that if something comes up as stolen we can work with law
enforcement. We have the tools to do that. It’s safer for everyone.”
More on Bates Recycling can be found at

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