2012-08-15 / Front Page

Grand opening Saturday

Harvey Metals keeps on growing
BY DARCIE MOORE Times Record Staff

MAX HARVEY AND KIMBERLY ALLEN, husband and wife and owners of the recently expanded scrap metal business Harvey Metals, Inc., lean against a stack of approximately 2,000 aluminum car and truck rims at their new 20,000-square-foot facility at 41 Capital Ave. in Lisbon Falls. Harvey Metals invites the public to its grand opening on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
DARCIE MOORE / THE TIMES RECORD MAX HARVEY AND KIMBERLY ALLEN, husband and wife and owners of the recently expanded scrap metal business Harvey Metals, Inc., lean against a stack of approximately 2,000 aluminum car and truck rims at their new 20,000-square-foot facility at 41 Capital Ave. in Lisbon Falls. Harvey Metals invites the public to its grand opening on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. DARCIE MOORE / THE TIMES RECORD When Maine natives Kimberly Allen and Max Harvey returned home after living in New Hampshire, they didn’t have two nickels to rub together, says Allen.

How far they have come.

Harvey was working on cars while the couple lived in New Hampshire and he tried to find a place to lease locally to do the same back in Maine, with no luck. It was by mistake they fell into the scrap metal business, Allen said.

A man in New Hampshire whom Harvey used to sell catalytic converters to told Harvey he thought he’d be incredible at the business of buying and selling scrap metal. He gave the Maine-bound Harvey a little money “and said why don’t you go up there for the weekend and see what you can do,” Allen said. They worked that first day, Allen said, with her riding shotgun in the truck, pregnant with their daughter, as her husband made the rounds in his old stomping grounds in Oxford County. After five or six hours stopping at different garages to buy catalytic converters, the couple made between $300 and $400. They went home, laughing and said, “This is a business,” Allen said. The price for scrap metal was peaking, Harvey said, making it a good time for them to enter the business, which was about 4 1/2 years ago now. From storing scrap metal in the basement of their condominium to the third floor of a climatecontrolled storage unit on a shortterm basis, the couple then operated for about 3 1/2 years out of a 2,500- square-foot bay in Topsham with no heating or plumbing.

In the last year while in that building, Allen said, she grew increasingly sure that “this was going to be a real-deal, full-fledged family business, but I was doing some youth work that I really, really liked and I had health insurance and was salaried.” It brought in less money than Harvey, but was a stable job. Yet she and Harvey had always wanted to work together and work well together and “the wheels were starting to turn, that we were going to buy a real warehouse that we could be in for a long time.”

In 2009, Harvey Metals incorporated — when Harvey and Allen were only 30 and 28, respectively — and began looking for commercial property. Allen joined the business full force at this point.

When they couldn’t find a building to buy that met their needs, Harvey said the couple looked at constructing a new building. But when steel building contractor Steve Martin came to their house to look at building plans, he advised them it would be very expensive for them to hire him to construct a building.

More importantly, he told them the exact same building already existed on Capital Avenue in the industrial park in Lisbon Falls, and was twice as big for half the cost.

“We drove by that night, we drove down this street, saw this building, went, ‘That’s the building that I want,’” Allen said. It is 20,000 square feet with four loading docks and two drive-in bays, and, “It was in really great shape.”

The building was home to Eastland Shoe, which stopped production in the early 1990s, according to Harvey and Allen, and was then leased to Grow-Tech for about a decade before sitting vacant. They closed on the building on Dec. 16, 2011, and moved in the next day. That same day, the couple, who have four children, moved into Allen’s family farm in Durham.

Business of scrap metal

“We’ve always bought stuff and sold it without refining it,” Harvey said. “Sometimes we’ll prepare it a little bit or separate it, or organize it,” after buying it, “but for the most part we buy things and we box it up and sell it.”

For example, batteries: “Somebody will come in a car and have five batteries, or somebody will come in with a big truck of 450 batteries, and then we package them all up so they can be transported legally and safely, and sell them in 45,000-pound loads,” which is the legal maximum weight for the road, Harvey said. The batteries get shredded and new batteries are made out of the lead. The plastic and acid are recycled.

While in the former location, with limited space, about 90 percent of their business was catalytic converters when they started. “We very quickly became the largest buyer in the state and we never want to lose that,” Allen said.

When they moved into their new space, “we really sort of opened a second business,” Allen explained. “The first one was Max going out on the road and buying (catalytic converters) from places like junkyards and dealers, and that kind of stuff. And then when we got this place, it was the ability to store the stuff we bought but then also very, very openly advertising what we call ‘walkups’ or foot traffic.”

Now eight times bigger with three employees, Allen said the business can handle many more customers.

“The vast majority of our customers are repeats that we see all the time,” Allen said. “Business to business. They’re scrappers, junkyards, guys that work on cars, guys that are retired and have always been scrapping, homeowners that are renovating and so they’re generating scrap for a few months.”

The law requires Harvey Metals to copy the customer’s governmentissue photo ID, keep a copy of the make and model of the vehicle and license plate number the customers come in, and a new law requires payments be made by check to create a paper trail.

Allen tells people, “We will buy any metal that does not have a VIN attached to it because if there’s a VIN attached to it, you have to be a licensed junkyard and we are not.”

Harvey said they buy everything from old appliances to heavy machinery, “to faucets,” Allen added.

“Scrap metal places generally buy about the same stuff,” Allen said. “What we do differently is we treat our customers well. We’re honest, we’re nice, we like people and you’re in and out pretty quickly. Our place is clean, it’s organized, and we let people see the scale.

“We’re really competitive on our prices and we like to be that way,” Allen added. Instead of making an extra 50 percent off their customers, “We’d rather have people come and be happy and come back time and time and time again.”

Grand opening

One of the company’s biggest challenges is letting people know where they are. While located in the town’s industrial park off Route 196, they are also out of sight from the road.

“The town has been very, very welcoming. It’s been great,” Allen said. “Lisbon’s got a really great community vibe to it.”

Harvey Metals was just approved for a working capital loan through the town which will help it expand, “because the biggest challenge in this business is having the money to buy all the goods,” Allen said. Once you spend the money to buy and get into a new building, you have to have enough money left to operate the business, she said, “and we always knew that was going to be our biggest hurdle.”

“I feel like a lot of the local folks are rooting for us, and it’s really great,” Allen said. “This town obviously is still pulling through its post industrial depression,” with mills and plants closing and the shoe factory once in their own space closed.

“This town had great importance to me in that my family came here from different parts of Maine and my grandparents met here and I went to high school here,” Allen said. “I think there’s a good significant movement with other local business owner folks that’s really going to help pull Lisbon through, and I really do see a lovely future for this town. I want to be part of that.”

To let people know who and where they are, but also to celebrate what they’ve accomplished with the expansion, Harvey Metals invites anyone and everyone to the grand opening on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On hand will be 99.9 The Wolf, giving away prizes and there will be food, raffles and a good time.

Harvey Metals, Inc. is located at 41 Capital Ave., Lisbon Falls. For more information, call 353-JUNK (5865) or visit http://harveymetals.com.

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