Pa. business strives for responsible recycling

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YORK, Pa. -- Paz Metals is a complex business with a simple philosophy: Trust and honesty will win the day.

The scrap metal and used electronics recycling center uses a process designed to hold Paz Metals accountable for responsibly recycling every product that comes into their Hellam warehouse.

Thirty employees accept, sort, pack and ship materials six days a week.

And Arie Yohanan, 51 -- who co-owns the recycling business with childhood friend Leon Fellah, 50 -- greets each worker as family.

"I come from Israel with my wife and two sons, but [my employees] are my family, too," Mr. Yohanan said.

A recycling center for seven years, Paz Metals recently received an international certification for electronic recyclers. Known as R2 -- or Responsible Recycling -- the certification ensures the highest levels of data security while maintaining strict environmental standards.

The floor of the 20,000-square-foot warehouse was organized into towering piles of baled wires, drums of spent batteries and pallets of sorted metals.

The air was active with sounds of clanging metals, hammering power tools and hearty conversation. One worker hammered out valuable copper fillings from an 8-foot diameter generator flywheel. Another took thousands of aluminum cans and fed them into a compactor to make 3-by-5-foot blocks. A third man disassembled motors that were sold for scrap. He wasn't an employee, but Mr. Yohanan and his management team let him take apart the engines and sell the more valuable metals inside for cash.

"We can't give everyone a job," said Jim Stuart, the sales manager for Paz Metals. "But if we can help people get a little cash for some honest work, then we will."

Not all the people who come to Paz with scrap materials are honest, however.

Every person who sells to Paz has to bring a valid photo ID. The items they leave behind are linked to their identity. If employees at Paz believe something they're buying is stolen, they put the item aside and call the police.

"We want to make scrap recycling safe and clean so families can teach their kids how to recycle the right way," Mr. Yohanan said.

Because Paz Metals uses a business model based on "trust and love," the employees are fiercely loyal.

Ed Blymire, 54, was the first person hired by the owners seven years ago. After working every job within Paz Metals, he has become an icon in his tiger-striped cowboy hat as the yard manager.

"My job is my life," Mr. Blymire said. "It's straight-up love here. I feel protected."

Since joining Paz Metals, Mr. Blymire has lived in a house in Springettsbury that the owners helped him buy.

The company is run with a commitment to the community that welcomed them and the environment they work to protect, Mr. Fellah said.

"This is the reality of the American dream," Mr. Yohanan said.

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