Colin Denihan

Vice president at Metal Source LLC

When Colin Denihan started college, he wanted to work for his father at United Rentals after receiving his bachelor’s degree. However, Denihan says, his career plans changed after a conversation he had while working his part-time bartending job.

“I was pretty good at talking to the patrons, serving drinks. A gentleman came in and asked me if I wanted an internship,” he says. “He asked me if I knew anything about aluminum. I said that I knew nothing about aluminum but said sure.”

That gentleman was Benjamin Gebhart, president of Wabash, Indiana-based Metal Source LLC. Denihan says he worked at the scrap yard throughout his senior year of college and would sometimes skip classes just to learn more about the recycling industry. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in 2009 from Manchester University in North Manchester, Indiana, he worked for Metal Source for about a year. When market conditions got rough, he says he transitioned to LKQ Corp., where he worked in sales and purchasing for a few years.

“With the inventories being so low, orders being so strong, I see no reason why the aluminum market should not remain strong or improve in the upcoming months.”

Denihan says about four-and-a-half years ago he “found [his] way home” to Metal Source, where he works as a vice president. Metal Source was a small company with approximately a dozen employees when he interned there; but, when he returned to the business, it had 50 employees. Today, Metal Source employs about 150 people.

“We’ve built a couple of new plants that I’ve been in charge of,” Denihan says. “We’ve expanded our growth into a trucking company and a steel supply company, as well as our trading company. The growth over the last five years has been tremendous.”

Denihan shares his thoughts on the industry in a conversation that occurred in mid-November 2020.

Recycling Today (RT): What do you see as some of the biggest issues affecting the recycling industry today?

Colin Denihan (CD): I wish I had the answer to these issues, but right now, workforce and employees [are an issue]. It’s very competitive and very hard to not only retain [employees] but also the hiring process, especially with the whole coronavirus pandemic going on. It’s hard to manage. Also, the unemployment rate had been so low, so it was hard to find competitive talent who would want to work in the recycling business.

I think that we’ve been trying to solve that equation by getting creative with employment and retention. I think [Metal Source] has done a good job by offering better benefits, better wages, bonus programs and referral programs.

Also, trucking has been a huge problem for us, whether it’s the lack of trucks on the road, the lack of drivers or the expense of trucking costs.

RT: Metal Source is focused on aluminum scrap. What have aluminum markets been like in recent months?

CD: The aluminum market demand has been very strong. I think that the supply chain has been really, really hurt with the coronavirus and the shutdown of the automotive sector. That’s primarily what we deal with—90 percent of our business is automotive. And with the inventories being so low, orders being so strong, I see no reason why the aluminum market should not remain strong or improve in the upcoming months. I don’t really know past February, but orders for at least the next two months are strong based on our order books.