April 2008

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Minichiello Brothers
Frank Minichiello • 1-888-Scrap98
From left to right, back row: Johnny, Joe, Louie, Carmen. Front row: Tony, Mickey, Frankie.

Frank Minichiello said, “I’ve been here my whole life.” As the son of Frankie Minichiello, the company’s founder, he wasn’t exaggerating.

Minichiello said that although his father was one of the youngest of the Minichiello brothers and had no more than a sixth-grade education, he was the one who founded the company over 50 years ago “and brought two of his brothers into the business.” Over the years, most of the brothers worked for the company, and Minichiello named them all as an important part of the company’s heritage: Mickey, Frankie, Johnny, Joe, Carmen, Tony and Louie.

At first, the company focused on dismantling battleships and submarines, and then moved on to other types of scrap. It eventually grew to include two locations, but like many family-owned businesses, it suffered as the founding generation grew older, and died or retired.

Minchiello credits his father with much of his own success. “He taught me a lot, he said, “He taught me how to work the hard way. He taught me how to work and how much work goes into making a dollar.”

Minichiello said his first job his father gave him was when he was little more than a toddler. “He put a magnet in my hand, and a bucket in the other, and told me that anything that didn’t stick to the magnet goes into the bucket,” he said.

Later, “I graduated to an axe,” he said. While there were torches and other cutting equipment available, his father told him, “you’re going to work with this axe first.” Minichiello proceeded to cut just about everything he could find – cars, pipe, sheet – “things they said you couldn’t cut, I chopped up with that axe.”

Coupled with a bad economy, the company had shrunk back to a single location and had been closed for six months when Minichiello and his wife, Tanya, bought the business about eight years ago. “She’s been by my side,” Minichiello said, crediting her with much of the business’s success. “I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Minichiello said he re-started the business with borrowed money and $5,000 in his pocket, and would buy scrap at his yard and “run down the street” and sell it to competitors to get enough money to buy more scrap.

“We went from strictly nonferrous to doing iron also,” Minichiello said. Now the company again has two working locations, and Minichiello is considering a third. “I definitely want to open up a new facility – when the right deal comes along.” He would like to find a property with a rail siding, he’s thinking about an auto shredder and is also “tossing around the idea of putting in a furnace” for irony aluminum. But first, “we’re putting in a car processing facility,” which will remove fluids and begin dismantling the cars.

With the scrap market booming, cash flow is still a challenge, but the figures have more zeros. Before scrap prices skyrocketed, Minichiello said that $10,000 of business a day was a good average, but now he sees “$100,000 a day, like it’s nothing.” He keeps a close eye on the bank and the inventory, because scrap on the ground is worth a lot. “You’ve got to process the stuff so fast,” he said.

Even today, Minichiello said that one of the best parts of the business is that “you get to wreck stuff.” He said that a good thing about scrap is that it doesn’t go bad, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, it still has value and it never spoils. Even so, neatness counts, at least when it comes to his property. “We keep it clean, we keep it neat, we keep it swept,” he said.

While Minichiello Brothers is the business’s original name, the company also is known as “Scrap It” because, according to Minichiello, “it associates what we do with who we are.” He said that when people have junk to get rid of, they say that they want to scrap it, not that they want to “Minichiello it,” and so far the name has caught on, perhaps helped along by the thousands of T-shirts he has given to customers with the “Scrap It” name on the back.