thankful for not trying to be “too cool” for anything and giving it a go.

Submitted by Todd Kauffman 

As a High School senior, I never imagined that I’d be working in the scrap industry at Sahd Metal Recycling. Growing up, I honestly had no clue what I wanted to do with my life just like everyone else. Definitely not the scrap industry. It was the opportunities I took that led me into my career here at Sahd Metal Recycling at just 21 years old!  

I grew up in Columbia in the same town as I work in now. I went to our local High School and had the “normal” teenage experience. Filled with fun times, memories and the wonder of what comes next after all of this. It truly is a scary feeling. Trying to live up to the set expectations which is “go to college” or “you don’t want to be stuck with that ‘type of job”. After two years of trying out the college life, I ran into the opportunity of a lifetime that I’ll be forever thankful for!  

Sahd Metal Recycling started off as a summer job at first. It is my best friend Alex’s family’s business which ultimately led me here. This was a point in my life where I really just needed something positive in my life. Growing up just a couple blocks away from the yard, I never fantasized or thought that I’d work with my hands. I always figured that I’d be in some sort of sales role or behind a desk all day. I am thankful for not trying to be “too cool” for anything and giving it a go. Little did I know, this would be my home where I could build my career for my family!  

The scrap industry is not typically filled with young generation Z workers, but we’re here to help that change! My favorite advice to give the younger generation is to simply not be ‘too cool’ for anything. Oppurtunites don’t come every day, so when you feel that you found the right one, please take it! My first couple months here were a true test to see how tough we really are. We started off by torching steel skeleton plates into 18’x24’ spec for the foundries. I started in mid-June 2021 when it was about as hot as you can get.  My only thoughts were “why am I doing this” and “what did I get myself into”. I’ve always had doubters who think they know you more than I do saying I couldn’t do it. This is when I decided to show them.  

Little by little, after learning how to torch, we started to learn the ‘why” behind what we were doing. This was the moment I knew I could do it. Seeing the price of a normal skeleton plate versus when it is cut to spec was eye opening. This made us want to cut more and more because we simply knew why we were doing it. It’s the small things that don’t take much effort that can give our generation motivation!  

After about a year of processing, our team leaders started to see the potential in different roles for us. This time was full of trial and error to see what truly motivated us. This is where we saw the opportunity to not only do the labor, but to get on the business side of things as well to get a full understanding of the business. I will always be thankful for my time in the yard and everything I’ve learned in such a small amount of time. All of this information plays into the role I’m in today!  

Our owners Dan and Mike Sahd sat down with us individually to go over our vision board and what we truly want out of life. This would help us find a career path that fits us best and will support our goals both in and outside of work. This was the biggest motivation for me because I saw it was possible and that there is a career if I choose to take the opportunity. It was honestly a no brainer. Today, I work in Sales and Marketing which is filled with building/nurturing relations and showing what Sahd Metal Recycling is all about! This isn’t exactly what I pictured for my life, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. When I’m not at events or visiting the customers, I’m always back in the yard helping the team reach our daily goal of getting every load finished and processed by the end of the day.  

Continuous learning is something we take very seriously. Since I don’t have a college degree, there was a lot of learning and trial and error involved in our everyday workflow. I am part of many different organizations to help me learn to further my career. I started off with Sandler Sales training taught by Greg Orth. This is where I learned the ropes of the sales process and what it takes to be the best. This was eye opening to say the least. Growing up I felt like I had a good understanding of a lot of stuff, but I was far wrong. I am also the youngest member of my peer group at The High Center in Elizabethtown, PA. The group is filled with owners of companies, CFO’s and many other professions. Honestly, I don’t even belong in the room. The knowledge and connections I’ve made in the short past 6 months will last a lifetime! 

 “Am I the only one with empathy” is a funny joke between Dan and I, as he spotted that may be an area of improvement for me to work on that could lead to future success. Before, I was very inward with my empathy which held me back in certain areas. This is when Dan presented me with the opportunity to do empathy training with Katie Sandoe of Light Echo! This has probably been the biggest unlock for me in the past 4 months. I know I mean well in my heart, but she has helped me in so many ways to be able to portray it outwardly. It didn’t just help me with my career, but my personal life as well. I’m very grateful for Katie and everything she sacrifices to help make me better every day! 

Both the Light Echo and Sandler Sales Training programs were partially supported by grants from Career Ready Lancaster.  The company would have paid for this development, but this financial support makes it easier for them to help others achieve similar gains in their careers. 

Along with the different training programs, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to travel and make connections. The Institute of Scrap Recycling (ISRI) has been a game changer for me. I’ve gotten to meet people in our industry that do similar stuff that we do from all over the country and even the world! I’ve met so many great people who are just happy to see young faces in the industry. We’ve been to Boston, Nashville and are headed to Las Vegas for the National Convention this year.  There are very few of us, but I’m excited to help change that for the future! 

Overall, my biggest piece of advice would be to not be “too cool” for everything. I promise you won’t truly know what you like until you try it. Don’t just wait for the opportunities, find them and ask! I don’t think there is an employer in the world who would get mad at you for not only wanting to learn, but to learn to help the business! If I find an opportunity that can help myself and the business grow, I bring it to Mike and Dan every time. I always thought I was ‘too cool’ for stuff. If I stayed in that mentality, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m lucky enough to say that at the age of 21, I am at the place that I want to be for the rest of my life!  

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