JUNE 2009

ISRI presents Lifetime Achievement Awards

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) presented its 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award to the late Leonard Rifkin of OmniSource Corp. and Ben Sacco of Sierra International Machinery LLC during the association’s annual convention.

Leonard Rifkin became acquainted with the scrap business through his father, a Russian immigrant who started collecting and selling rags, paper and scrap metal. In 1943 he bought his first scrap yard. Leonard Rifkin got his first taste of the business there — and didn’t like it, but after earning a bachelor’s degree in business and a two year stint in the Army, he tried again and never turned back.

He became president of Superior Iron & Metal Company in 1963 and fashioned his first joint venture. Over the years, he made more than 25 acquisitions. He welcomed his sons Daniel, Martin and Richard into the business and at the suggestion of his eldest son, he renamed the company OmniSource.

Today, the company handles 6.5 million tons of ferrous scrap and 700 million pounds of non-ferrous scrap annually.

Leonard Rifkin passed away in 2008. The award was accepted on his behalf by his sons.

Ben Sacco was born in a small mountain town outside Salerno, Italy, in 1922 and immigrated to the United States in 1935. He and a partner established the Sierra Bag Company in 1947 and as the business expanded to buying copper, radiators, and batteries from farmers, Sierra Iron and Metal Company was formed in 1959.

A quarter century later on a visit to Italy, Sacco visited a scrap yard near Venice and discovered a unique machine – a mobile baler that could process twice as much in a day as its United States counterparts. He promptly bought one, and when another scrap dealer saw it, he wanted one, too.

So at an age when many are considering retirement, Sacco embarked on a new career as an equipment vendor. He introduced the combination shear/baler domestically, and soon Sierra International Machinery expanded into shear/baler/loggers, cranes, grapples, and more.

With six-plus decades in the scrap business, Ben Sacco still puts in six-day work weeks at Sierra.