Ragg Recycling is among Austria’s leading steel recycling enterprises. Some 120 000 tonnes of ferrous scrap a year pass through the company’s mega shredder (one of six in the Alpine country) which is within their 40 000 m2 main yard and headquarters in Hall, a small town near Innsbruck in the heartland of the Tyrol region. Recycling International chats with Petra Mussmann, who heads the company with her husband Christian Stolz.
Ragg’s ‘stay local’ business model has proved a blessing. How come?
Mussmann: ‘I’ve always said: Why send containers to Asia and other far away places if you can easily sell close to home? This approach has made us big and will only make us bigger, in part thanks to increased global trade hurdles. Scrap import restrictions in China have led to a material boost at home. Since copper cables could no longer be exported from Austria, not even across EU borders, we were happy to strip, scrap and refine them and sell the copper granulates to our end users at home. We’ve seen the inflow of copper cables explode, increasing by more than 50%.’
Your husband is a former hotel manager. He joined Ragg twenty years ago. In what respect has he taken the company to a higher level?
‘Raised in the hotel business, Christian introduced an awareness of the importance of a clean and tidy yard. Like a hotel room, you have to make sure the yard is tidy at all times. It makes work easier and more efficient while boosting the spirit of the entire company and beyond. Another thing: he knows from experience to pay attention to people. Hospitality is all about attention, proper service and, above all, friendliness – what applies to restaurant guests also applies to customers and employees. It’s important in any business, including the scrap trade.’
What else did he introduce at Ragg?
‘He taught us to be proud and open and show the outside world how beautiful recycling is and what a great job we’re doing here: helping to give valuable materials a second life. Christian has recently placed large signs across the yard sharing details about the various commodities that are processed at Ragg, the volumes coming in and the recycling technology/equipment used, among other things. ‘It’s a nice tool which helps us to tell and teach visitors about the importance of recycling and how companies like Ragg contribute to a better environment. There is a lot of ignorance about recycling and we, the industry, should do our utmost to help educate.’