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‘Line between parent/employer can get blurred’

Commercial Metals of Auckland, New Zealand was founded by Simon and Lynette Westgaard. They say they have ‘a great scrap life’ together with their sons Luke, Elliott and Max who are already shaping the family company’s future.

You can read the full family business feature in this issue of Recycling International

What started with one man, a truck and a big mobile phone 30 years ago is today a 100% family owned and operated business handling 50 000 tonnes of materials with the ambition to ramp up to 100 000 tonnes in the coming years.

Business is challenging, says Simon Westgaard, with steel scrap prices going up and down. ‘We are lucky to have a new powerful shear to convert materials into cash flow every day. We are growing into what our machinery and layout can handle and decided to just get better at what we know – cutting clean scrap.’

A family business is great fun because…

Lynette: ‘It sometimes feels like one big adventure. You all get excited with new developments. It’s fantastic to have the next generation bringing their ideas and energy to the table. Succession is still a work in progress. As Luke, Elliott and Max have complimentary skills, the three of them will be able to run the business as a team.’

Luke: ‘We have the freedom to make decisions in the morning and put them into action the same day, which makes us very flexible for receiving and processing unusual or awkward scrap without much notice. I am also happy getting to see the family every day, even with almost full lockdowns. After talking with friends overseas dealing with Covid restrictions, you realise that may be taken for granted.

‘I get to help my family succeed in business and life by keeping the tools we rely on for our living working efficiently and effectively. The level of care and attention to detail, in my opinion, will always be higher when the machines are your own.’

Max: ‘We feel privileged to be able to spend our working time together and to have the same common goals for the family. The diversity of work and skills required are varied and challenging on a daily basis.

Simon: ‘It’s a great scrap life. We are incredibly fortunate to have had three sons who have experienced the highs and lows of owning your own business and want to be in this industry and be part of the journey to achieve our company goals. Lynette and I are now blessed with our first grandson, Logan who is five months old. Who knows, maybe he will be part of the team one day.’

What is less fun?

Luke: ‘Having work disagreements affect your personal relationships.’

Lynette: ‘Being the parents and the employer: the line between the two can get blurred.’

Simon: ‘When personalities and objectives are opposed.’

Meet Commercial Metals:

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Expertise: Ferrous and non-ferrous metals recycling

Annual scrap volume: 50 000 tonnes                                 

Number of generations: First (Simon and Lynette)                                  

How many family members involved: Five

Who does what: Simon (director, metal trader), Lynette (finance, health, human resources) Luke (maintenance), Elliott (logistics), Max (metal trade, logistics)                

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