A new brand name, a new logo, a recent acquisition and, in the pipeline, multi-million Euro investments in expansion and new technology. With seven member companies in six locations – Germany, The Netherlands, France and UK each having its own unique expertise – the Jacob Metal Group is strongly positioned in the global non-ferrous metal recycling business.
Annual turnover may well hit US$ 1 billion this year, Recycling International was told during a recent tour of the company’s main facilities which started in Hamburg. The city is covered with 10 cm of snow on this final day in March and the local radio station is warning of slippery roads while also announcing that coronavirus restrictions are slowly but surely being lifted across Germany.
The softening of the rules does not yet apply to private companies, as I find out on arrival at the gates of Siegfried Jacob Hamburg (SJH). In a special cabin at the entrance, my body temperature is checked. When that’s done, the door opens automatically and I’m allowed to enter the facility and office building.
‘Our Covid protection programme is still in place,’ says SJH’s managing director Achim Lindhorst. ‘We’ve had several cases where truck drivers measured ‘fever’. You don’t want that so we do our utmost to keep the virus out of our company. It’s still standard procedure that the team is tested twice weekly.’
HURDLES AND HEADACHES
The pandemic has had a serious impact on some parts of Jacob Metal Group’s business, as it has on the whole sector, says Lindhorst. ‘Here at SJH we’ve seen turnover shrink by 20%. The good news is that metal prices have gone up 45% in a year which offers at least some compensation.’
Even so, there remain other issues, with the conflict in Ukraine being the biggest concern. ‘The war is having a major impact on the automotive industry. Crucial cables for cars are made in Ukraine but since the supply has stopped, car production is also affected with chip shortage being one of the key factors. And this affects other businesses.
For example, there is less production scrap coming into recyclers.’ As for logistics, the whole supply chain is ‘a mess’, Lindhorst observes. ‘A shortage of truck drivers is one issue, but also shipping space, container shortage as well as truck capacity. We’ve all been dealing with major delays. There is one example where a container with copper scrap destined for India got stuck in Dubai for seven months.’
SJH handles 35 000 to 50 000 tonnes of non-ferrous scrap per year. While most of the brass and copper finds its way to end users in India and China, aluminium (40% of the total scrap volumes processed at SJH) stays within Europe, mainly Germany. Lindhorst is proud of SJH’s aluminium segregation line.
The facility, designed and developed inhouse using state of the art solutions, including optical sorting and X-ray technology. A multi-million Euro investment necessary to achieve higher quality scrap. ‘We’re not volume players,’ says Lindhorst. ‘We’re quality players. That’s the culture at SJH at Jacob Metal Group and I stand for that; we live quality.’
Simple metal trading hardly has a future for bigger companies, Lindhorst believes. ‘Not in Europe, not in India, not anywhere. There is more and more transparency in this business so if you want to compete and survive you have to add value. Adding…