Q&A with a SciAps Customer

July 19, 2023

SciAps (SA): Jon, thank you for volunteering to speak with me today. Why don’t you give us a little background on you and your company.

Jonathan Bubier (JB): I'm Jon, and I work for the Joseph Freedman Company in global trading as the Operations Director at Labrador Recycling. We are an industrial metals recycler. So, probably 80% of the material that we buy at our recycling facility comes from manufacturers. Another 15% comes from dealers. And then, the leftover 5% would come from household owners, peddlers, etc. The majority of our business comes from manufacturers who are machining parts and doing something within the manufacturing process, whether it be airplanes or medical equipment. So, we need to be able to identify the product that we're buying.

We buy aluminums, coppers, high temp nickel alloys, cobalt alloys, stainless—anything that you can imagine, we're buying. We really try to separate everything that we can, within reason, so that we can sell globally to the best market that we can reach with the best freight. So, we use the analyzers on a daily basis. We have five analyzers, and now all of them are SciAps. We recently sold two of your competitor’s analyzers and bought one SciAps to replace those.

I was the Operations Manager for Joseph Freedman for four years, so I have a long relationship with CJ and with buying guns over my four-year time there, and SciAps has definitely been the best partner that we have found. We really enjoy the service that we get from you guys, and of course, I'm happy to be here and share my experiences with you.

SA: It’s great to hear that you’ve had a great experience with SciAps Service. Can you give us a little more detail about your service experience?

JB: That is the number one reason we're buying SciAps. It really comes down to that. I can contact CJ, Bianca, and Jonathan at any time, about anything, and get a response, even if it’s “I’ll call you tomorrow morning from the office.” We have a really good working relationship. I can be an addict when it comes to work. About four or five weeks ago on a Friday night at 8 o'clock, I texted CJ and said, “Hey, do you have a contact down in Mexico for your company? Because I might need a piece of material shot down in Mexico.” He responded with, “Yes, but not all of us work at 8 pm on Friday, so it might be hard to find someone available right this second.” It's just really nice to have someone that can communicate kind of immediately when you need them, even 8 pm on Friday.

Your competitors are faceless companies. If I send an email, it’s to a support group, and I’m lucky if I get an email back that day, but it’s usually four or five days later. If I need a replacement gun, it takes along time.

When people ask me about analyzer guns—and I do talk to a lot of people—I tell them the speed is the least important thing especially since everyone is so fixated on how quickly the gun itself can analyze a piece of metal. I say, “Look, if you're down and don't have an analyzer for two weeks because you're having trouble communicating with the company, how many seconds did you miss when you could have been processing?” That’s the most important thing.

And unless you're talking specifically about aluminum sorting, because I know that you guys have one of the fastest, if not the fastest, processing of aluminum, and unless you're processing only aluminum with a guy who's sitting there every single day processing an entire load of aluminum, what's that second or two really going to gain you?  

At the end of the day, what you need is 98-100% up time with your analyzer, and you guys have really provided that to us.

So, that's where you guys are really the shining star.

SA: What analyzers do you have?

JB: We have two X-550s, two X-250s, and one X-200. We use the X-200 for processing in our aerospace department. I would say that 90% of the material that the X-200 shoots is going to be turnings, and it's mostly a spot check. The material will come into the yard, the operator will spot check it, and then move it to wherever it needs to go. From there, it will be shot with an X-250 for an actual segregation. The two X-550s are in our aluminum sorting department and the other X-250 for shooting solid turnings. The most important thing on our end is to train our operators in how important the analyzers are. We need to teach them that they need to treat them like they are holding a car in their hands.

SA: You bring up an interesting point. Our analyzers are on the higher end compared to other companies. You said service was one of the big reasons why you stick with SciAps. Why else should someone choose SciAps over the other guys?

JB: I've worked for three companies in my career. In the early parts of my career, everybody was using the main, well-known analyzer. I don't even think SciAps was around then. You’re just celebrating 10 years, right? So, I've been in the business a little longer than SciAps has been around, and these other guys were the top gun. They’re like the Kleenex of the analyzer industry. I learned very quickly, that if you damage one of their guns, you have a $5,500 - $7,500 bill, regardless of what's wrong with it. It's just the cost of getting the gun back and up and running.

That is not the case with SciAps. I've had guns that I thought were broken but were sent back after just getting recalibrated. We're back on the road, for a couple $100. The lifetime cost of the SciAps is cheaper than any of the competitors. Not only that, but we are only two and a half hours from you guys. I have accounts that are two towns over, so I can put the gun on a truck and tell the driver to deliver it to you guys, and you guys will just take care of it.

Whereas one of the issues that we had when we were dealing with the other companies is that we had to send information to them about the gun and the model number, then they would write me an RMD. Then they would send me a shipping label. Then I have to ship it out. It takes two days to get there. Sometimes they don't start working on it for a couple of days. I actually, at one point, got a gun back from them without even knowing what the issue with it was. It was two weeks later, and I got the gun in the mail. They hadn't even told me what was wrong with it or how much it was going to cost to fix it.

When I send the gun to you guys, I get an email saying, “Hey, they're looking at your gun now.” I'm getting updates about what's going on in the process. And then, “Hey, this is the issue. This is what the cost is. Do you approve?” I agree, and you send it back. It's not like just sending the gun into a black hole and then getting it back. I’m getting feedback in real time about what's going on.

I'm someone who's constantly following up on this stuff, because again, for us, it's not the seconds it takes to read the gun. It's the days it takes to get the gun back.

I always ask you guys if I can have a loan or a replacement, and I get one. There was one time when CJ said, “I don't have one, but I'm going to get your analyzer into service immediately.” I had it back within five days. Those are the types of things that are important to us as a company.

We might have been down for five days, but if I had had to send the gun to one of the other companies, it might have taken them six days to respond to us, two days to get an RMD number so that I could ship the gun to them, another two days for the gun to get to them, and then they need to fix it, and send it back. That’s like two weeks minimum. The overall downtime when I'm dealing with SciAps is very much minimized.

At the end of the day, you may be paying more for a SciAps initially, but the overall cost of the lifetime of the gun is less. The amount of down time you have with the gun is less, which is invaluable. For us, our analyzers are really one of the most important tools for our business. It's like a forklift. If we don't have a forklift, we can't operate. So, if we don't have a gun that can tell us what the material is, we can't operate. It's really an integral part of our operation that we use every single day in five different departments. If we don't have those guns, then we are not processing scrap.

SA: Does the speed of the X-550 on aluminum matter to you?

JB: I think it was two years ago when we bought our first X-550 and that was because the value of segregated aluminum was high, a difference in price of 50 cents a pound. I'm constantly looking at the sales prices for the different grades of everything. What became very apparent to me and easy to calculate was if I separate one load of material out of my mixed clip, I've paid for the gun. I walked into the owner's office and said, “Hey, look, these are the numbers right here.” I laid everything out for him, and he said, “Well, why are you still sitting here? Go by the gun.”

At that point, it was a no brainer. But even now, these guns definitely pay for themselves over time. If it’s not paid off in a year or two, I’d be very surprised. They pay for themselves very quickly, and as far as the time that it takes to analyze aluminum, that's not something that's as important to me.

SA: Do you use all five analyzers every day?

JB: We generally have at least four in use at all times, and then one backup if one does go down. We’ve also had times where a buyer will come to us and say, “Hey, I need to go shoot some material at a facility. We think that it's 2205 stainless. But we're not 100% sure, can you come track it for us?” We'll actually go out and read the material, which is another great reason to have a backup analyzer.

Another thing that I really like about your gun is that you can shoot something, take a photo of the material, and print out exactly what it is and the test that you did it on. That’s a pretty cool feature.

I'm a SciAps fan. Anyone that's buying a gun, I always tell them,

“You gotta get a SciAps. It's the top of the line. It's the best in the industry right now. I don't even call the other companies to find out what the costs are, because of all the other factors that I have seen, the uptime for the gun and the service that you get are the most important things to me.”

Those are the things that people don't know how important they are until they have the gun, and they're dealing with you guys. Most people look at that the number on the paper, and then they choose the cheaper one. It's really the wrong way to look at that purchase. The service is really where you guys shine.

SA: Anything else you like about working with SciAps?

JB: I really like working with CJ. He has such a great perspective. He's seen so many yards. He's been to so many places, and he'll be sitting there and watching me do something, and then say, “You're using the wrong abrasive pad.” These are the types of things we should all know.

That is the other nice thing about having a guy who can come out and check and communicate with you rather than kind of dealing with a conglomerate. At least in my experience.

I’m dealing with people not just a company.

SA: Anything else that you want to add? Anything else that I didn't ask?

JB: I had never heard of SciAps when I first started working at Freedman, so I was really skeptical because, again, it's like Kleenex, right? Everybody was using the other guys, but you guys have proven yourselves. I would just keep doing what you guys are doing. The SciAps analyzers in our facility are the most important tools that we have. Without it, we would be in a worse place than we are today. So yeah, keep doing what you’re doing.

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