Scrap—unusable cars, appliances, beverage cans and building materials to name a few—usually ends up either as waste in a landfill or can take on a new form through recycling. The process of breathing life back into discarded materials is ever-changing, with technological advances taking place at a rapid pace. Those who can combine the power of technology with the art of sorting iron and metals succeed. One such company is ACME Iron and Metal, Co. Inc. (ACME), headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Today ACME serves by far as the largest scrap metal recycler in the New Mexico market. Using industry-leading technology, owners Paul Wynn and Jerold Schmider along with their team of 100+ employees, recycle a wide range of consumer and industrial materials. These materials are sourced at the commercial level through relationships with manufacturers with scrap to offload, as well as from individuals who bring in materials thanks to direct-to-consumer TV and online advertisements.
As industry leaders, Wynn and Schmider constantly look for ways to innovate and grow their business. They’ve conquered the New Mexico market by maximizing the limited industrial supply accessible in the region, honing their consumer market and leveraging technology to increase efficiency. With First National 1870, a division of Sunflower Bank, N.A., by their side, they continue to grow and expand their reach.
From Competitors to Partners
Schmider and Wynn both “grew up” in the scrap metal industry. Schmider’s father started ACME Iron and Metal in 1956 and, for a short time, both Schmider and Wynn worked for him. Then Wynn went out on his own, becoming one of three major scrap metal recyclers in the Albuquerque area, competing directly with ACME.
When Schmider’s father decided to exit ACME in 2010, Schmider knew he wanted to take over ownership. And he knew who he wanted to partner with. Even though they were competitors, Wynn and Schmider had stayed friends for years. They knew they were stronger together. So, over cigars and a handshake, they pooled their resources and became 50/50 partners. They’ve been innovating and growing their business ever since.
Integrating Backward and Forwards
As ACME grew under Wynn and Schmider’s leadership, the business aggressively acquired additional locations expanding its footprint and recycling power. With each acquisition, ACME further dominated the market, ensuring that in an industry experiencing high levels of consolidation, it came out on top as the “Papa Bear,” rather than being swallowed whole. In the process, they maintained a family business that their children can join as they grow up, while passing the lost art of sorting metals for profit to the next generation.
“We enjoy the thrill of the business,” said Wynn. “Of taking something and making it better than before. We have dreams of integrating backward and forwards in this industry. We want to grow bigger and bigger.”
Wynn and Schmider have the foresight and deep industry knowledge to do just that. Now, they continue to refine their process to become even more efficient and set themselves further apart from the competition. Recent examples include adding a 5,000 horse-power car shredder and super sensor lines to sort out copper wire.
ACME’s sound financial position has been carefully cultivated by Wynn and Schmider to ensure they can take action on growth and keep the competition at bay. With each investment in their business, having a banking partner who supports their vision and can help turn their dreams into reality has also been key to their success.
A Banking Partner That Supports the Vision
When Wynn and Schmider were reviewing banking options in 2020, they weren’t looking for just any bank, they were looking for a relationship.
“We were looking for a banker that was involved in our dreams, in helping us grow and increase market share,” said Wynn. “Rather than a banker that was simply secure in our profitability and cash flow.”
With First National 1870, which is the operating brand name used by Sunflower Bank in Northern New Mexico, ACME found a partner that took the time to learn the business, understand its needs and see the vision.
Top bank management, including Neal Arnold, CEO, President and COO, and Jennifer Norris, Chief Credit Officer along with Scott Czarniak, Regional President and Suzanne Mirabal, SVP, Commercial Team Lead, put on their boots and toured ACME’s facilities. They learned the nuts and bolts of business and how ever-improving science could lead to growth.
“We have a personal relationship with Neal, Scott and Suzanne,” said Wynn. “They look at our vision and ask how they can help, instead of throwing out roadblocks to success.”
When ACME came to the bank with plans to purchase a state-of-the-art system, which can sort metals the size of a strand of hair and recover precious metals from scrap, their banking team knew how these improvements will add up to big profits for ACME and structured the financing to make it happen.
“We love that Sunflower recognizes our vision and supports us,” adds Schmider. “We feel like we can purchase any property, put our process in it, and with the help of the bank and our team, we can be successful.”
With a local banking partner for the long-term, the sky’s the limit for ACME as it continues to grow bigger and bigger, whether through purchasing new equipment, building facilities in new markets or acquiring complementary businesses. First National 1870 and Sunflower Bank are proud to share in ACME’s vision and find innovative ways to help Wynn and Schmider realize their dreams through financing.