In this episode, Nick sits down to chat with Mario Martinez, the recycling center manager for Gowen Field. Mario gives his backstory and insight on the scrap business. Listen and follow along on Rev.com Here or play the youtube video and follow along with the text below.

Nick:

Happy 4th of July, first and foremost, I want to thank all troops in our armed services for the sacrifices they and their families have made for our freedoms in this great country. And this episode, I get a chance to sit down with Mario Martinez from the Gallon Field QRP, and he's able to show us how important recycling is not only at his facility, but at all military bases across the nation. Take a listen.

Nick:

All right. Welcome everybody here with another episode of Recycled Idaho, I'm excited for this one. I got my guest here. Mario Martinez. How you doing sir?

Mario:

I'm doing well and yourself?

Nick:

I'm doing good man. It's Friday. And we're going into the weekend. We've had a long week here at United Metals. I've been busy again, like things are feeling like they're trying to turn back to normal on the volume. So it's been real busy and it's nice to get back to like somewhat normalcy with what's going on out in the world right now. How about you guys? You guys busy?

Mario:

Yeah. We picked back up. Things are hopping and we've had a few hiccups ourself this week, but we do make do with what we have.

Nick:

So what's really cool about this episode is I usually talk to people from different industries, but you are in the recycling industry.

Mario:

yeah.

Nick:

Can you kind of tell people listening, like who you are and what you do?

Mario:

Yeah. My name is Mario Martinez. I work for Gallon Field Recycling. Basically I run the recycle program for the Army National Guard for the State Of Idaho. So we have different armories and FMS branches throughout the state and we help facilitate their recycle program.

Nick:

So you help all the different branches throughout the state too?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Like all the different ones with the National Guard at least correct?

Mario:

Correct. We have one in like there's one in Pocatello, one in Twin Falls.

Nick:

One in Caldwell?

Mario:

Caldwell, Mountain Home, Lewiston.

Nick:

Are each one of those, Are they self-sufficient or they scrapped to their local scrap yard? Or do you pull it back to your main hub here in Boise, Idaho?

Mario:

So most everything goes local.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

Cardboard goes local, office products that kind of stuff stays local, scrap iron stays local. The things that come back here for the most part are the batteries, the lead acid batteries.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

They come back here.

Nick:

Okay. So that makes sense. Because that's something recurring comes up for bid.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

I would say every few months you have like a pallet of them seems like.

Mario:

Yeah. We try to keep the battery load right around 14 to 18,000 pounds. It keeps the load smaller so...

Nick:

Smaller, more manageable.

Mario:

Right.

Nick:

And then you can kind of keep it out of your space. How big is your warehouse over there?

Mario:

It is 100 by 60. So it's relatively small and we've got two yards and the storage facility next door to our building. But we're tight for space and we try to keep the product moving as fast as we can.

Nick:

And how long have you been over there?

Mario:

Coming up on two years.

Nick:

Okay. So Well already.

Mario:

I know.

Nick:

I remember when you started.

Mario:

Time flies.

Nick:

It's been real nice to work with you when we get the chance to, and it's nice to kind of see the with the changes you've made over there because I've been there before you around. I'd been over there before too, and you've really made some big changes to help yourself be more self-sufficient right?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Where you control, where you deliver your scrap, where you make yourself a little more I assume like cost-effective.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Because they kind of pulled you in. Your job is to like basically make the base as much extra money as they can. Right?

Mario:

Yeah. So basically how it works is the QRP, which stands for Qualified Recycling Program.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

We're self-funded so basically our operating costs get backed out of the bottom line and then everything else goes back to MWR, which is Morale Welfare and Recreation. So all the money goes back to the troops.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

So if MWR has a gym facility that they're trying to build, or there's a new Rec Room or something that they're trying to build, for example, the project is going to cost $200,000 and they have a $100,000, then they come to the QRP and they say, "Hey, we need $100,000, can you help us out?" We send them the funds. And then there it is.

Nick:

That's awesome. Myself I never served in the military, but I've always been so pro military. Both my grandfathers served in Navy Reserves. One of my grandfather was in World War II. I got a tattoo for him right here for the Navy. So I got like the utmost respect for all that. And that's why I think the timing of this one's going to be cool. Cause we are going to post this on the 4th of July.

Mario:

Nice.

Nick:

So it's going to be an awesome fit. And before I really had started working in this Boise facility, I didn't realize how much recyclables metal can come out of a base. You just get so much, that's just like one piece that no one really thinks of. Like we can go back a little bit. Can you kind of give us a little bit of your background before you were over here?

Mario:

Yeah. So back in 2000, I think I started in recycling at 2004 or 2005. I started out with Pacific Recycling and Great Falls. That's where their home branches-

Nick:

In Montana?

Mario:

In Montana.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

And I worked there for four years. And-

Nick:

What did he start doing? What was your first job?

Mario:

I was running the scale, buying stuff from the customers.

Nick:

Running the non-ferrous scale or ferrous?

Mario:

Non-ferrous and ferrous. So we'd have to go out and check the loads, going down to the 10 pile and scrapped by iron and a bunch of judgment calls buy copper brass-

Nick:

price it out.

Mario:

Yeah. By copper brass, aluminum cans, that sort of stuff.

Nick:

Yeah. I started in our non-ferrous recycled center in 2010. So we have similar like kind of start and background. And this is so much to learn did it. And you said you were there four years?

Mario:

Yeah. Well I really enjoy the industry. Right?

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

It's exciting. It's a lot of the same stuff, but you never really know what you're doing.

Nick:

Yeah. It's always different. Always.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

It's the same but different.

Mario:

Exactly. So I knew I wanted to progress my career. I thought I found something that I really wanted to stick with.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

And things were rather stagnant there. Everybody kind of had a home, but I wanted to grow. So I went to my manager and I said, "how do I grow with this thing?" And they said, you have to be willing to move. Okay. Not a problem. Moved quite a bit as a kid. It's not a big deal. So I put my name in the hat for anything that came up, anything, anywhere and opportunity came up to help open a branch in Yakima, Washington.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

So that came up, they sent me out there to look and see if I liked it. Loved it, moved the family out there. I was there for three years in Yakima.

Nick:

Brand new facility?

Mario:

Brand new. It had been open a year and a half I think.

Nick:

Okay. So that's new and in any real business term?

Mario:

Yes. They had a new steel branch, but they wanted-

Nick:

To break it.

Mario:

To break a combination.

Nick:

Got you. Which they do. The Pacific does that a lot.

Mario:

A lot.

Nick:

It seems like they they kind of double up on them. Right?

Mario:

Yeah. Depending on the and market where it's at for sure. So I went out there and lend my knowledge, if you will. We turned the corner and started making pretty good money. I had an opportunity to come to Pocatello and basically what Pacific does, I don't know if they do it anymore, but they had this curriculum that they put together to grew management, so I got it.

Nick:

Like management training?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Right?

Mario:

They call it a junior management.

Nick:

Okay, cool.

Mario:

Anyway, I got in on that and I started with that, did pretty well. They moved me to Pocatello to further my knowledge on the day-to-day management aspect of it.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

I was there for eight months and then I was offered the assistant manager position in North Dakota

Nick:

That's what brought you to North Dakota?

Mario:

Yeah.

Mario:

So I went out there and it was in North Dakota for three years, roughly.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

And at that point I thought I really want to grow and I wanted to expand my chances of getting my own branch as a manager. So I thought, well, I'll transfer to new steel and learn sales and that part of it. So then I could either do new steel or recycling or Combination.

Nick:

You just making yourself more valuable to the company.

Mario:

Correct.

Nick:

Wish any employer or manager would appreciate that in an employee.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

You know.

Mario:

And so I did that. And then the burst happened in North Dakota and it fell quick.

Nick:

The zero eight?

Mario:

Zero eight bus, Okay.

Mario:

Yeah. Well, it would have been around 2015.

Nick:

Oh, that one. Okay. Not one in zero eight?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

The 15 one.

Mario:

Yeah. The one oil market kind of fell apart.

Nick:

Yeah.

Mario:

That was the one that really broke the camel's back. So to speak and as luck would have it, I was on the chopping block, unfortunately. And then from my bag of tricks and worked a couple of different miscellaneous jobs. Went back to the oil field, actually in the oil field for two and a half years. And then-

Nick:

What were you doing in the oil field?

Mario:

I was fracking.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Cool.

Mario:

And did that for a while. It was okay. But I honestly don't remember putting in my resume cause they found it on indeed. And I got a phone call from Chief Walden here in Gala. And he's like, "are you still interested?" And at that time I had met my current wife and was looking at relocating here anyway. And so it worked out really good. I'm feeling very blessed.

Nick:

You know, I love that story because so many people fall upon some hard times. You got laid off and I mean, when you go through anything like that, it's easy to kind of be like down you know?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

But then looking back now, like you guys live here, I hope you like it in Idaho?

Mario:

I do.

Nick:

Yeah. Like I've lived here my whole life. So I'm kind of biased about it. Like I love it. I've been to a lot of other places to visit. I wouldn't really want to live anywhere else. So you're in Idaho, you're still working in recycling and you're managing the facility here?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

And that just shows lik even when the chips are down and like all that hard work you put in for those years at Pacific, still paid off.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Still paid off here. And my personal opinion is I really think things happen by chance. I think things happen for a reason.

Mario:

Very much so.

Nick:

You know, and like you're here for a reason, man. It all worked out for you.

Mario:

Yeah. I went to college for autobody paint and refinishing.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

And then I took business management classes. Because I wanted to own my own custom body shop.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

Great business. But it's brutal on your body. You don't get rich quick. I mean, the reality is very few, like chips-

Nick:

So you must like cars then?

Mario:

Oh yeah. I love cars.

Nick:

Yeah. Because I mean that you got to have a passion for that?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

To do it, to start a business like that.

Mario:

Yeah. that was my goal. And I still tinker at home, but the business management classes really paid off big time for me now. So I'm glad I took that route.

Nick:

So real quick, before we press record, we were talking about another one of your hobbies that I think is pretty cool and interesting. Me being a scrap guy and you being a scrap guy, you see a lot of these in your scrap pile and you probably came across a bunch when you were at Pacific. So what is your other hobby?

Mario:

I collect bicycles. It sounds kind of strange.

Nick:

No, its cool.

Mario:

I'm not as active as I once was but at the peak I had about bikes, all different styles and kinds. I had a 42 Sears Roebuck. That was pretty fun. And I fixed him up and ride him.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

At the time. Currently, now I'm down to about four or five. So I sold most of them off to finance different moves and stuff.

Nick:

Going back to the scrap again. Like that's one thing I love about that show American Pickers. I love the fact that they go to all these places that I kind of go to, looking at farm cleanups and we came across these old motorcycles, which to me, it's scrap. I'm not a collector or anything like that, to me it's scrap. But I find it really cool when you stumbled across, like something that's worth like 10, 20 grand, you crush it, it's worth like two, three bucks you know?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

But if you find the right buyer. So I'm sure some of those bikes could be probably worth some money. Right?

Mario:

Yeah. I've got an 1936 Harvard Rollfast and it's just raw metal. I looked it up and a fully restored, one is worth about five grand.

Nick:

Yeah.

Nick:

See, that's a perfect example. So going back to Gallon Field here. What are the main things that get recycled in a base like this? Like what do you mainly see on your day to day?

Mario:

So in the regulations, we have to take cardboard, plastic, office paper, those types of things that we have to take. it's in the bylaws.

Nick:

Yeah.

Mario:

So we get a lot of that type of material.

Nick:

And that's a tough market right now.

Mario:

It's super tough.

Nick:

Yeah.

Mario:

We do it because it's the right thing to do. Right. it helps out in the long run.

Nick:

And it saves on your garbage, if you throw it away, you'd be incurring those garbage fees.

Mario:

Right.

Nick:

So you're saving at least that too.

Mario:

Yeah. And part of it I have to quarterly do a diversion rate, so we take a sample of the trash, trash bins who go through it, sorted out, find out what type of recyclables are getting thrown away. And then what, and we compare that to the amounts that we are claiming through our recycle program. And so that helps us know where we can target different offices and then education of course is crucial.

Nick:

So you go around all the different departments and kind of go in there and kind of figure out the best way that each one could do? Like almost created like a recycling plan for them right?

Mario:

Yeah. Essentially. And really what it is locating the location of our recycle bins.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

If we have a bin in this copy room. And so we put one in another break room, but it's not getting used. I get with the building managers and find out where's everybody going?

Nick:

Yeah.

Mario:

Cause we're finding a lot of recycles in the trash.

Nick:

Got you. Like why is this recycle bin not being used. Right?

Mario:

Right. And then we try to find a better location for it that it will get used. So we can recapture that material.

Nick:

Well, it probably keeps you busy, man. Cause you got a big facility there and then all the other ones you manage too.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

So this Tuesday we're going to go look at some scrap, right?

Mario:

Yeah. I'm kind of excited. It's old material. It's been out there for decades and there's some material that's been out there since the Korean war time. So basically what it is, they decommissioned tanks and Bradleys and things of that nature pull the engine and training all the liquids out and they place some randomly out in the desert and they just shoot it with it. Tanks and-

Nick:

They do some-

Mario:

500 pound bombs and all kinds of stuff goes on out there.

Nick:

So you use them for training right?

Mario:

It's exactly right.

Nick:

And they're-

Mario:

Its out in the desert.

Nick:

So you're not even sure the last time they've cleaned up this particular area?

Mario:

Yeah. The range we're going to look at is last been cleaned up. I think they told me in the seventies.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

So there's some big, heavy stuff out there. And we have made the corner, we've started buying some different equipment to help us out be more efficient and independent, but this stuff I'm calling on-

Nick:

Some of the scrapyard to look at.

Mario:

The bigger guys to helped me out.

Nick:

We all come look at it and see who can come away with it.

Mario:

Yeah, exactly.

Nick:

Well, I'm always appreciate you keeping us in the loop. Giving chance to bid on that material. I appreciate getting to know you better and also kind of learning how it works over here. Because for many years I didn't get a chance to go on base very often except if it was like a company working on it that we would work with. We'd go there. But through the actual recycling program, that's been kind of new the last few years.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

So it's been nice to work with you and I'm excited to check this out Tuesday. We'll bring out some cameras and show everybody, kind of give people a little insight on the recycling that happens at bases. And this is something else like this happens at bases everywhere right?

Mario:

Yes.

Nick:

Every single base?

Mario:

Yes sir.

Nick:

Every single base in the nation has a program just like this?

Mario:

Yap.

Nick:

Do you talk to some of those other recycled programs?

Mario:

I do.

Nick:

You do, and you guys kind of help each other?

Mario:

Last year, I went to they call it AFIT and I don't remember what the acronym stands for, but basically it's a training class to know what material is recyclable and what stuff is not that, that sort of stuffs by regulation there's stuff that I cannot take electronics, certain airplane parts-

Nick:

Some like classified type stuff.

Mario:

Yeah. And, the reason for that is that they're worried about somebody reverse engineering something and then being able to use it against us.

Nick:

Yeah. I get that. And that's why when we've bought things from different auctions and that we have to provide, even through governmentliquidation.com.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

We buy some stuff from them and they would send people from the base to watch us decommission. Yeah. They wouldn't let us just like take a video. They would be here the whole time. So I understand, like it can be sensitive and, and there's a cost to that. So you got to build that into the bed you know? And just so everyone's clear, you don't work for the military. You do, but you don't. Right?

Mario:

Yeah. So I'm a civilian in the military program.

Nick:

Is that how they all are? Or are there some programs out there that are run by the military?

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

So it's kind of both.

Mario:

Yeah.

Mario:

It's just this happens that I had the qualifications that they were looking for. The gentleman I took over for was military.

Nick:

Okay. So it was?

Mario:

Yeah. And he was on his third retirement. Ready just to hang it up and-

Nick:

He's ready to go fishing.

Mario:

right?

Nick:

Yeah. Good for him.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Well, cool man. Is there anything you want to add? Is there one thing that we end on this very often is do you have someone that's really inspired you or been a good mentor that growing up, they like kind of give a shout out to?

Mario:

Yeah, I would probably say my dad.

Nick:

Okay, good.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

Father's day was a few weeks ago, so...

Mario:

Yeah, he was one of those firm, but fair.

Nick:

Okay.

Mario:

He was a disciplinary and is exactly what I needed in life. And he taught me the value of a dollar. He taught me the value of hard work and dedication.

Nick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mario:

And he had passed on early 90's but there's little things that always-

Nick:

he's still with you.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

I got you.

Mario:

Always come back to mind from time to time.

Nick:

Well, yeah. Same here. My dad's taught me so much. I think a lot of people wouldn't be there where they are today, if it weren't for their dad or mom.

Mario:

Yeah.

Nick:

So, awesome. Well, thanks for coming on. I'm excited to get out there on Tuesday.

Mario:

All right. Thanks for having me.

Nick:

Thank you.