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Like many companies, Supershear started off as one sort of business and slowly changed into another. Larry DeMik, the owner of Supershear, described the history of the industry and his business.

In the late 1980s, DeMik said catalytic converters were being “yanked off” of vehicles using torches. Cars were prepped while they were still on their wheels in junkyards. Not only did this take a lot of time, but it could also be very dangerous. And it simply wasn’t efficient.

DeMik explained that at that time, a man named Dave Casebolt was in the business of buying catalytic converters from auto salvage companies. He looked at the process and said, “There’s probably a better way to do this.” But he didn’t just think about better ways, he designed and patented a machine that made the removal of catalytic converters much easier. They were the first Supershears.

Casebolt then gave the machines away to the yards that were removing the catalytic converters. “He gave them a machine,” DeMik said, “and he received a better price on the cats.”

It was a win-win. The yards saved on labor costs, the employees who removed the catalytic converters had an easier job, and Casebolt had a steady supply of catalytic converters at a price that made him a nice profit. It didn’t take long before the cost of the machine was paid for while Casebolt continued to buy the converters at the lower price.

At that time, there was a large margin between the purchase price and the sale price, but, DeMik said, “Nowadays there is a whole lot tighter squeeze on what you buy and what you sell.”

DeMik came into the picture in 2004, when he bought the business along with two partners and formed an LLC. In 2010 he bought out both partners and incorporated the business. “And here we are today,” he said.

While DeMik wasn’t particularly interested in recycling catalytic converters, Supershear was a very good fit for his interests. DeMik said he “always worked on cars,” until he got out of that business and into finance, which he also enjoys. When the deal to buy Supershear came along, “I got to do both things,” he said.

While Casebolt’s business was all about buying catalytic converters at a good price, under DeMik’s management, Supershear changed into a company that simply sells equipment.

While some of Supershear’s customers operate much like Casebolt, where they give away machines in return for exclusive rights to buy the catalytic converters, many of the customers use the machines to remove catalytic converters from the cars they are processing. “We provide a machine that helps these guys take a catalytic converter off,” DeMik said.

Supershear services the machines, and they also sell parts so customers can do maintenance and repairs on their own. “I enjoy it when someone calls up and says, ‘my machine doesn’t work,’ and I can fix it over the phone,” DeMik said.

While they “still sell a lot of equipment to the mom and pops,” Supershear also does a lot of business with larger companies. “We’re doing a lot more business today than before.”

Besides selling the Supershears, the company also sells decanning machines, which cut the converters in half so the catalyst can be removed. DeMik explained that the catalyst includes platinum, palladium, and rhodium, which is why it’s valuable. At the time of this article platinum and palladium were both over $1,000 per ounce.

There are three models of Supershears. The difference between the three is “what powers the hydraulics.” The electric model is best for stationary use, where the converters are removed on a rack. The gas and 12-volt models offer much more mobility.

When DeMik started the business, he was “a one-man show,” but it has grown into a family company. Since 2012, DeMik’s son Jacob has been involved. Instead of DeMik buying the dolly carts that his machines ride on, Jacob began to fabricate the carts in-house. Later, Jacob learned how to build the Supershear machines as well. Not only did this save money over purchasing carts, but “I also have a loyal employee,” DeMik said.

In 2017, DeMik’s son Michael also joined the company, and he serves in a variety of areas. Michael had worked in the retail bicycle business, and also did bike repairs. When the retail bicycle business went soft, DeMik decided to “carve out a spot for Michael to build Supershear machines, but he can still do bike repairs too.” He is also slowly getting involved in customer service.

With all that great help in the shop, DeMik spends most of his time in the office, working on the financial end of the business. “I don’t know that I’d have time to go back into the shop,” he said. “Taking care of the books has become a full time job.” And looking to the future, he said, “I’m trying to work it out so the boys can take over.”

Published in the February 2018 Edition