Zach Matthews

National accounts manager at Versatile Processing Group

Zach Matthews didn’t learn about career opportunities in the recycling industry until he was a senior at Indiana University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and corporate innovation.

“The recycling industry came to me as a job opportunity as I was getting ready to graduate from Indiana University,” Matthews says.

"I would hope that even with uncertainty in the various markets that we would continue to grow with the industry.”

In 2013, OmniSource recruited him to be a management trainee. As he interviewed for the position, the company invited him to tour a shredding yard in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which was his first exposure to the scrap industry.

“It was something I had no experience with,” he says. “I saw all the equipment—the shredders, the balers and boxes of different material. It was overwhelming at first, but I’ve gotten the hang of it and have learned to enjoy the industry.”

Matthews is now a national accounts manager at Versatile Processing Group in Nabb, Indiana. In his current position, he handles procurement activities for the company’s largest scrap dealer suppliers and manages its international scrap procurement programs in Mexico.

Recycling Today (RT): How did you get your start working in the recycling industry?

Zach Matthews (ZM): I have an interesting start in the recycling industry. I’m not part of a family company like a lot of people are within the industry. I was recruited out of the business school and ended up taking a visit to OmniSource, which is where I started my career. I ended up liking it. Five-and-a-half years later, [I’m] still plugging away in the recycling industry and liking it.

RT: How has your career in the industry been so far in the past five to six years?

ZM: It’s been good. It’s a great learning experience. As everyone says, there’s something new every day. You’re always learning something. There’s always something new you haven’t seen before with markets changing, mill needs changing, equipment issues, transportation issues. I love what I do, with closing new business and helping companies grow and just dealing with a lot of the good people. It’s fun to meet the very diverse crowd that we have within the industry.

RT: What did you do before getting into the recycling industry?

ZM: I went to business school in Indiana. Growing up, I didn’t have a ton of exposure to the scrap industry. I’d actually never been to a scrap yard until my first interview process coming out of school. I had your typical high school jobs [that] taught me what a good work ethic is and that you need to make sure you work hard and work your way up.

RT: Where do you see the industry headed in the next few years?

ZM: I would hope that there is some steady growth. We’ve had success at [Versatile Processing Group] with steady growth. I would hope that even with uncertainty in the various markets that we would continue to grow with the industry. There are always new regulations coming out, new technologies emerging, [changes with] export markets and seeing if there will be new capacity domestically in the U.S. that’s going to change the game. As of right now, the future is uncertain. We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing month over month, year over year, and hopefully that leads us in the right direction in the next five years.