Pile of Scrap Ep. 37: Good Ol’ Buddies
Working in the scrap industry is a little different than your average day job, and A&S Metals owners Stanley Silva, II (Buddy) and Stanley Silva, III (Buddy Jr.) can attest to that. Taking after generations before them, these guys are the embodiment of what hard work looks like. To discuss the history of the company and the essential aspects of recycling, John Sacco and his nephew, Philip Sacco, travel to Castroville, CA, to catch up with old friends over at A&S.
Stanley Silva, III (Buddy Jr.) & Stanley Silva, II (Buddy) with John & Philip Sacco
Intro: The following is an original audio series from Sierra International Machinery… Pile of Scrap with your host, John Sacco.
John Sacco: Well, we're going to do pry one of the most special episodes of Pile of Scrap… Here with my nephew, Little Phil. Sorry for the “little.” You're 32 years old.
Philip Sacco II: Don’t say sorry. I've always been Little Phil.
John: You will always be Little Phil. I'm here with Stan Silva, Jr.
Buddy Silva: Yup.
John: Buddy, to me… All my life, you've been Buddy.
Buddy: Right. A couple of years.
John: And, Stan Silver III. But, Little Bud. The difference between you, Buddy, and Philip… You’re fourth generation. Little Phil, you’re third generation at Sierra. My dad and, Bud, your dad… How did they become friends? How did they get to know each other? Where did that start? Was it Terry Glucoft?
Buddy: Yeah, Terry Glucoft. That’s when we were looking at, um, doing portable work. And so, that's what really started this whole thing.
John: Well, you guys, well, you know… The Silva family and Sierra… You're the #2 customer at Sierra when it got all said and done. And, it was because of Terry Glucoft because he was at Judson Steel buying bundles. And, we bought the 4200, the first one. Everybody said to my dad, “You're crazy buying a foreign baler. You're not going to get parts.” And, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Well, it was killing it on production. He calls Terry Glucoft, says, “You got to see this baler I got. I'm making #2 bales.” So, Terry comes down and looks at the baler, says, “My brother needs one of these.” So, the very first baler that came to Sierra, the 4200, ended up at S&G, which was, uh, Steve Glucoft.
Buddy: On Hyatt Street.
John: And, he – You knew where.
Buddy: I might have went there once or twice.
John: And then, from there, some of something happened and it ended up at A&S Metals, but it isn’t A&S that you are in Oregon. And, then you guys came down. But who – how did that – You were you part of that? Did you come down with your dad or your dad just came home one day…
Buddy: With Terry. Terry and dad went down to Bakersfield and met with your dad.
John: See, I don't – I wasn’t part of that. And…
Buddy: I wasn't either. Because, you were – you were in school…
John: I was finishing up USC –
John: My senior year at USC when that all went down.
Buddy: And, I was just being a dumb truck driver.
John: A dumb truck driver. All right, well, that segues right into… Because the question I was contemplating, “When did you know you want to be a scrap man?” You looked at me. “I always wanted to be a trucker.”
Buddy: The first time I remember sitting in a truck is, uh, dad was driving an old international transfer and it was an old bubble nose transfer and, um, I was sitting in a big wide seat and I bet you, I was probably four years old. I knew if I rode with dad in the truck, I was spending time with dad, you know? And so, as I, uh, spent more time with dad, I obviously enjoyed parts of going places.
John: Well, where – okay. Going places.
John: Where was he going? Was he hauling scrap? Or, what was he doing?
Buddy: Back in those days, he was hauling gravel, uh, as a part-time job. And, he was hauling logs. Uh, he was in, uh, he – he drove, uh, an old ‘58 Peterbilt, hauling woodchips up to Antioch through the old Vasco grade. And, you know, the old school roads that I vaguely remember.
John: Where does scrap coming to this? When does the metals come into this?
Buddy: Well, we, um, my – my grandfather, back in the late 60’s, was a scale master.
John: Grandpa George worked the scale at the landfill…
John: Sees all the scrap metal going in and he's thinking, “Aha. This shouldn't – this isn't right.”
Buddy: So, they got together. My grandfather and my dad got hooked up with my grandma's two brothers, the Ash. – Edward and James Ash, who were well drillers and loggers – who my dad was a tree logger back in the day. He, uh, logged – actually, he had a limb go through his chest and almost killed him when – when I was in my mom's womb, you know, right after my mom found out she was pregnant with me, my dad had a limb go through his chest.
John: She was trying to kill him, I think.
Buddy: No, no. Not at that time, maybe. But, um… As dad was doing 10 different jobs every day…
Stan: 20 hours a day of work, every day.
Buddy: So, um… They developed this co-op between the – the two uncles and my dad and my grandfather, which started A&S Metals. My first job, um, at A&S, when I was real little, was they would bill – burn – get a back of a pickup bed, put all the copper in the back of it, burn it, and then you'd have to go in there and cut all the ends up. And, that's – that was my job.
John: How old were you when you were cutting off the ends of that copper?
Buddy: I was – I was about eight years-old.
John: Did your dad ever make you do that?
Stan: No. I – I tried to stay on equipment. I got smart, quick. I didn't want to do…
John: Well, you were lucky.
Buddy: He was spoiled. Not smart.
John: You were lucky. He got on equipment…
Philip: Really young. I mean…
John: I, see, again, I said this earlier today. Guys, the only piece of equipment I was ever allowed to run at Sierra as a kid growing up was the upstroke baler and that was for baling bags. That wasn’t even for the metal room.
Philip: See, that’s just so funny to me because my grandpa… Same guy that wouldn’t let you…
John: Yeah. You got to do the escavators with the shear, run the big shears in there. Not me.
Philip: I'm seven years old, I was running the stick shear.
John: Let's fast forward to today. I got to drive a semi-truck for the very first time in my entire life. I'm 58 years-old. You guys… You told me a story… You were how old when you drove your first truck?
Stan: Well, I… In that same truck, uh, going across the Montana/Utah border.
John: How old?
Stan: Uh, 12? I shouldn't say that on camera.
John: And, how old were you when you solo-ed your first semi?
Buddy: About 12 years old.
John: Think about it because that's our youth, Buddy. And then, these kids had a different set of youth. But, how about your father, grandfather, and my father? I mean, it was the Wild West almost… Before modern day, you know, post World War II. And, you know, you two guys are the, you know, the bloodline of hardworking people – grandfathers.
Buddy: And it’s far in between.
John: But, your grandfather and, Buddy, your grandfather, you know… Work is what they love. Work is what they knew. That… It – but, it was working family – working family. There was no…
Buddy: Work was their retirement life. I mean, that's what – that's what they wanted to do when they retired is they wanted to work.
Philip: I don't know about you, Bud… Your family and just how you are… I think about my grandpa a lot at 87-years-old, 86-years-old, he was still in the office, five, six days a week.
Buddy: Oh, I know.
Philip: He had Chemo and then he'd be in the office.
John: Yeah. But, well that was the work ethic – work ethic. And, because, also their brains worked in a way that, you know, they didn't have the hobbies we have. Okay? Now, your dad was a hunter.
Buddy: Yeah. I mean, you could her color – you could color him gone. In, uh, in October, he'd go hunting.
Philip: All year long.
John: But that's, uh… But, you know, hunter's a funny thing because they work all year to do – to go hunting, too. It was kind of like their reward.
John: You know, it's not like a vacation on the beach in Hawaii to them. It's because hunting is work. Now, you're a hunter. You're a big hun–Are you a Hunter, Bud?
Stan: Absolutely, yes, sir.
John: So, interesting thing, let's get back to this A&S ‘cause there’s something that I found fascinating today. You guys had a little MRF…
John: Here in Castroville and, so did Waste Management.
John: Neither of you guys have a MRF anymore. What happened?
Buddy: Several different ways – or reasons. We got out of it ‘cause the market for plastic was gone and we just kept fighting it, and fighting it, and losing money, and losing money. So, we'd jumped out. And then, when we jumped out, around our area, they put a new MRF in… Oh, probably about a year and a half, two years later… Here locally.
Stan: Right here.
Buddy: And, then that's when Waste Management got out because they didn't – wasn't able to fulfill that contract anymore. But, fortunately, we got out and then they have all these residual, you know, all the plastics that they need to take out of the environment. So, they weighed in as a recyclable, and then there's no money to redeem that. So, they're taking it back to the face and then – and then burying it. So, it's a – it's a – it's a big facade. It's a – we're doing right over here, but in the left, they're not, you know, they're not saying either… Yeah.
John: When the government gets involved with business, profit is thrown out because they just rely on extra money in the budget from more taxes. And yet, they're still, but not fulfilling the real true, you know, duty of recycling – of getting it out there because there is so little money involved with certain products in the recycling stream. So, the households are really going to have to pay for it.
Buddy: Absolutely. So, the more green we are, the more expensive it pay – it takes for our homeowners to pay because it's being ran by, um, government that they just put a budget to it.
John: And, I think when all these governments – you have municipalities and counties, whatever, what have you – are doing these MRFs and they're losing their butts on them because of the cost, that's when they come up with – the regulators – come up with these nefarious plans that lump in a commodity like scrap metal, copper, aluminum, and stainless, what – cardboard. You know, these are commodities. These are commodities that are consumed here in the U.S. to make all the new product, new packaging, new al– you know, trucks out of steel, and aluminum for motor blocks, and copper for electrical… Hell, you can't build a ventilator for COVID-19 patients without recyclable products in it.
John: You need cardboard for the packaging, you need copper for the wiring to turn it on, you need – got a little aluminum here, you got plastic, steel stand that… It's all from recycled product, but they want to lump that product that's a commodity, they want to call it waste. ‘Cause as soon as they call it waste, they own it.
John: And, we no longer get to control that commodity.
John: And that's – that's the part that I think we all have to stand up against because we are not a waste. We – our industry is not waste handling. We don't handle waste. We handle a commodity. We're commodity processors.
Philip: Really, when you look at the root of it, they're raw resources.
John: Well, yes, we are the raw materials for, you know, raw materials for critical manufacturing. And, that's why during COVID, our industry got to stay up.
John: Okay. Critical manufacturing…
Stan: We’re essential.
John: So, yeah, we are essential because without our materials, steel mills – Jason Young from the Allan Company told me that without recycled cardboard, and if they closed every recycling center because they deemed us non-essential, paper mills would run out of paper in two weeks.
John: Two weeks.
Philip: Food packaging was less than a month. You won't even be able to distribute food anymore.
John: Yeah. Which is… So…
Philip: I mean, crazy.
John: So, you know, I mean… It’s, uh, it needs to be said. You know, and part of our efforts – and, look, let's face it – we always seem to be battling the government in respect to the regulatory burden placed on us. And, it keeps getting harder and harder and harder. But the government knows all their little MRFs… They lose their ass. They don't know how to recycle for profit. And, they're not going to handle commodities in a profitable way. Oh, heck no. Imagine them trying to run our businesses? Now, you're talking about institutional knowledge that stems from your grandfather, my father – our fathers to your grandfathers that's been passed down. This generation’s knowledge being passed down… How to do things and how to do things right. And, I think that's vitally important. And, that's why the – our industry always seems to improve because of the next generation has learned from their forefathers and now they're improving. I've got a question for both Little Phil and Little Bud, here. Tell us something. The one memory of grandpa is the first memory you always think of? Little Bud, you go first.
Stan: “God damn it, stupid.”
John: I could hear that, I could hear that.
Philip: So, I think of my grandpa… Now that you said that and I think I just shifted gears. When he was mad, he’d go, “You imbecile!”
John: His favorite saying is when he’d get – he would get upset at somebody who he didn't agree with or something, he would say to them, you know, he’d always have a cigarette in his mouth, take a drag, and he’d go, “You know, you remind me of a good friend of mine that's an imbecile.”
Philip: The thing that comes to mind first when I think of my grandpa was all the years growing up. I mean, from little, little, little kid that in today's world, you can’t even have a kid that young even in the yard, probably, but uh, just walking around and him teaching me about the piles of different nonferrouses, and you know, different grades and how to blend to make an 80/20, 70/30 mix and just, like, all the years when it was just walks with grandpa through the scrap yard and looking at equipment, the whole time he was grooming you and teaching you. And, I didn't realize that until really, unfortunately, after he had passed away and I come back from college and, you know, full-time in the company now.
John: Well, the one memory I have of your grandfather, your dad… I mean there’s a lot of memories, but I was always thankful he liked me because he scared the hell out of me because he was the most burly dude. When you shake his hand, you had to be prepared. But, he was a sweetheart of a man.
Stan: He was a teddybear, man.
John: Boy, oh, boy. You know, you went – when he went to shake your hand, you better be ready because you're going to get a good old fashion – not because he tried, but you were going to get good old fashioned knuckle cruncher just because he had…
Stan: He didn’t realize the strength he had.
John: Ah, he had amazing strength, but he was – you just – you just looked at your grandfather and just: hard work. That was it: hard work. You just screamed – like a billboard... “I work hard.”
Stan: That was his whole life. Yeah.
John: You know, and we're blessed. Look, guys, we sit here today at this table because of that.
Stan: Oh, absolutely.
John: Because of that dedication, that hard work, their honesty, their integrity, and their character sits us at this table to be able to tell this story. That's the blessings that we all have.
Buddy: All the opportunities, you know, that, and you know, I'd see that today… Is all the opportunities that my dad gave me and he would do without to make sure that I was doing it, you know? And – or he would put the time in and, you know, as I was growing up in, in my teens and twenties, he would stay working for me. That’s why I was out, you know, he would, let me just “Go, go ahead and go do this,” you know? And, I see that right now, you know? Yeah. You know, he, and he has a different, um, you know – or different desire that he's doing now than I was done in my younger years, but, you know, and, and it's the things that it's…
Stan: You have to put the time in.
Buddy: Yeah. It's things that, you know, that dad did for me and my three sisters and my mom, you know, and, and where he, uh, created our legacy and in the hard, hard, hard, hard, hard work, you know? And, having, you know, a dedication. He was more dedicated and had – and more determined than any person that he’d ever known and determined…
Stan: Would describe him the best.
Buddy: Never say no.
John: Yeah, I think the word for my dad was fearless.
John: You know, he was an immigrant to the country, broke after World War II. I mean, you know, you're in World War II. You prepare to die at any moment, right? Not that you're prepared, but you know, so he was always fearless. This is only part of our day. This is part of our podcast. It's going end. And, I want to thank you, Buddy Jr. – III, actually, for… Buddy Jr. III. There you go. And, what a name that is. Thanks joining us at lunch.
Stan: Thanks for having us.
John: Thanks a lot. It was no way we can sit here without you. No way we could sit here without you, Phil. And, of course…
Buddy: Good old friends.
John: A brother. Love you, man.
John: Thank you so much for all this. And, you know what?
Stan: Yeah, I want to say one thing to you that you brought up, is one thing about our parents that nobody knows about that you said…
John: Yeah, Brian.
Stan: Well, one thing about him is I've never seen or met another person that takes better care of their employees, that treats them like family. I mean, if you work for us, you're part of the family.
John: All right. And, this has been another episode of…
All: Pile of Scrap.
Conclusion: This has been a Sierra International Machinery original audio series. Thanks for listening. Please share this podcast and make sure to subscribe.