Positioning for growth Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010

When Larry Baron joined his father’s company Acme Refining Scrap Iron & Metal Company, it was under one condition. Baron wanted the authority to expand and grow the two-year-old business.

That was 1975 and Baron had a vision of becoming the CEO of the largest scrap metal company in Chicago. Quickly that vision turned into a reality. The scrap metal service company has grown from one truck, one driver and 20 accounts to 200 trucks, 400 employees, seven scrap yards and a document destruction division.

As president and CEO, Baron has been able to grow Acme by maintaining a focus on expansion and diversification during hard economic times. He realizes it’s not only what you do during good times, it’s how you position yourself when times are bad. And so his philosophy is to invest during a recession.

That thinking came full circle in 1998 when many steel companies went bankrupt. While still recovering from the loss of work, Acme built two steelyards. One was built with barge access, both with rail access. Baron knew he needed a way to move material out of the country should another recession hit.

That foresight has kept Acme afloat in recent years. For a three-month period, domestic mills were not buying scrap steel. Acme was able to barge scrap metal down the Mississippi River to staging centers near the port of New Orleans. The metal was eventually sent to Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam, instead of sitting in Acme’s scrap yard waiting for U.S. production to pick up.

Baron has also taken advantage of the downturn, by negotiating with Iowa Interstate Rail Road for an additional 20 acres of land at one of its facilities. The extra space has allowed Acme to enter into wood recycling and, again, position itself for growth.

How to reach: Acme Refining Scrap Iron & Metal Company, (773) 523-4500 or www.acmescrap.com