Matthew helps feed recycling business

Scott Bigelow -

LUMBERTON — Recycling is a scrappy business even on a sunny day, but Hurricane Matthew brought major challenges to this business sector in Lumberton.

The flood waters rose 3 feet into Edna Mayes’s recycling business located on West Fifth Street. OmniSource, Lumberton’s larger scrap yard, located across Ineterstate 95 from West FifthStreet, was buried under 9 feet of water and has not reopened.

With her crew of six employees at Eazy Recycling Core & Metals, Mayes was able to reopen after just two weeks.

“We haven’t slowed down since the hurricane,” she said last week.

The future of OmniSource’s Lumberton location is undecided, according to a voice recorded message. OmniSource has five other locations in North Carolina, including sites in Fayetteville and Hoke County.

Located at 3185 West Fifth St., Eazy Recycling has picked up business from OmniSource as well as from the aftermath of the hurricane.

“Our yard was always clean, and everything was in the bins,” Mayes said, looking over huge mountains of twisted metal. “We’re filling bins faster than they can pick them up.”

Eazy Recycling ships 400,000 pounds every two weeks. The business buy everything metal but autos. Refrigerators, sinks, washers and dryers, copper wiring and other parts of homes are piled behind the building.

“So many houses have been destroyed,” Mayes said. “They are stripping out everything that can be recycled.”

Business is so strong that Mayes is looking to purchase larger equipment and at buying larger locations with space to grow.

The ups and downs of the scrap business are neverending. Metal prices plummeted several years ago and are just now creeping back up.

Mayes is used to personal setbacks. She was laid off in 2009 during the worst recession in modern times. Like many people, she looked to family for answers.

“My brother-in-law has a scrap yard in Salisbury, and I went up there for two weeks to learn the business,” she said. “My sister runs the office.”

Mayes was once tempted to return to office work, but she came back to the scrapyard after just six months.

“I like being my own boss,” she said with a smile. “I’m making more than I ever did before.”

Scott Bigelow

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