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The John Sacco interview (Part 1)

Written by Gabriella Vagnini

Interview with John Sacco: A Legacy of Innovation and Cleanliness in the Recycled Materials Industry

During my recent visit to Bakersfield, CA, I had the opportunity to sit down with John Sacco, President/Owner of Sierra International Machinery, a company specializing in recycled metals buying, manufacturing, distribution, and machine sales. Founded by his father, Ben Sacco, Sierra is a testament to the legacy of cleanliness and industry innovation that John has continued to passionately uphold during his reign at the helm of the company.

John Sacco reflecting back on his father’s legacy

Before sitting down with John for a one-on-one interview, he gave me a tour of the property and explained every aspect of his company. What I first noticed is that they are not just a machinery company; Sierra really is a one-stop shop when it comes to recycled materials. But not only that, it is a remarkably clean facility. There are two major components to running a facility like this. The first is cleanliness. One would say, who cares about dirty floors and banged up forklifts. But I will have you know; the global forklift market was valued at over $20 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow steadily in the years after. And even more shocking is that the aftermath services for forklifts– including repairs, maintenance, and parts sales– often have higher profit margins than compared to new equipment sales.

Just to give you an example that will hit closer to home, the value of the forklift market is comparable to the value of the Electric Vehicle (EV) market, renewable energy market, cloud computing market, Artificial Intelligence (AI) market, E-commerce market, digital payment market and biotech market, just to name a few. That really puts it into perspective how important it is to maintain a clean and organized work environment when it comes to the recycled industry. Too many companies are not following that structure and therefore feed into the $20 billion dollar forklift industry and lose out on their own profits.

Carrying Forward a Legacy

John’s father was a firm believer in maintaining a spotless work environment, viewing it as a reflection of one’s character and business ethics. This principle remains at the core of Sierra’s operations. As John showed me around the property, the cleanliness of the facility stood out. It’s evident that this standard is more than just an aesthetic choice; it’s a foundational aspect of their business culture.

John emphasized that “recycled” should not be synonymous with “dirty.” Contrary to popular belief, recycled materials yards can be well-organized and clean. This misconception is something John is determined to change. He explained that the recycled materials industry encompasses a wide range of jobs, from legal and financial roles to engineering and operations, highlighting its significance and complexity.

John speaking with one of his dedicated workers about the fastidiously maintained forklifts

The Economic Impact of Recycled Metals

The recycled metals industry is not just about managing “waste;” it’s a critical component of the global economy. For instance, the profitability of this sector is evident in the substantial market value of metals like aluminum and copper. In fact, recycling aluminum saves up to 95% of the energy required to produce the same amount of aluminum from raw bauxite ore.

Besides some plastic and upholstery, every piece of this school bus is recyclable

Insights from John Sacco

During our interview, John shared some surprising insights from his experience and podcasts. He noted that many employees in the recycled metals industry are unaware of the entire recycling process. John believes that educating employees about the process from start to finish can enhance their understanding and job satisfaction.

For newcomers to the industry, John’s advice is straightforward: learn about the industry comprehensively, regardless of your position. He stressed the importance of educating the younger generation about the diverse opportunities within the recycled metals sector, which include legal, financial, trade, and much more.

From rags to riches, the recycled metals industry isn’t a “dirty” world

Machinery and Market Trends

John highlighted the high demand for processing equipment, particularly balers. These machines, which compress and bundle recycled materials, are essential for efficient shipping and processing. The demand for such machinery indicates the industry’s growth and the ongoing need for technological advancements to handle the increasing volume of recycled materials.

Opportunities and Perceptions

John sees himself as an opportunist, driven by the goal of reshaping perceptions about the recycled metals industry. He is committed to spreading awareness about the true nature of the industry and dispelling outdated notions of “dirty scrap.” John pointed out that recycled metals are ubiquitous, found in everything from aluminum siding and copper pipes to rebar in construction. This pervasive presence underscores the industry’s critical role in modern life.

It was clear to me that John Sacco is not only continuing his father’s legacy but also driving innovation and awareness in the recycled metals industry. His dedication to maintaining a clean and efficient facility, coupled with his passion for education and industry advocacy, makes Sierra a standout company in this vital sector.

Before I end part one of the interview article, I would like to leave you with some facts about recycled metals. I learned this from John: demonstrating an awareness of recycled metals is also effective when providing comparisons to it– known facts– facts that make people understand the importance and the impact of recycled metals.

It’s all about the facts

Did you know that recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to power a smartphone for almost two hours? The recycled metals industry plays a crucial role in conserving energy and reducing environmental impact, making it not only a smart choice for sustainability but also a key player in supporting the technology and devices we use every day.

Did you know that 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today, thanks to recycling? The recycled metals industry is incredibly efficient, turning old materials into new products over and over again, which means less waste and a more sustainable future.

Recycling one ton of aluminum saves the same amount of energy as running a TV for 10,000 hours! This impressive energy saving highlights how impactful recycling metals can be, making it a vital part of creating a sustainable future and reducing our carbon footprint.

Get ready for Part two of our interview with John Sacco, to be released in June, where we’ll explore his personal brand and its monumental impact on the world of recycled metals. Discover how his leadership and vision are transforming the industry and what it means for our future.

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