How did you enter the recycling business? As a family member of a multi-generational scrap business, I always had an interest in scrap, recycling, and our industry. Since I can remember, I have been coming to work with my dad and grandfather on weekends, running the can machine and any other dirty job they would find for me. I would spend hours walking around our scrapyard, dreaming of the day I would be driving the cranes, forklifts, etc.—and now I get to do it for a living. After college and some years away from the scrap business, I joined the family business and never looked back.
Did you ever consider doing anything else for a career? Not seriously. After college, I got into the communication business for a few years. It was never a career I was excited about, so when the opportunity came up to join the family scrap business, I jumped in.
What do you like most about the recycling industry? I like that we don’t mind getting our hands dirty. I also like that we’re saving the world, one pound at a time. That we take companies’ and individuals’ material and remanufacture them into reusable products.
What do you like least about the industry? I least like the volatility of our markets. The up-and-down markets are frustrating and constantly affect our prices to customers and the company’s bottom line.
What’s the biggest business challenge that you or your company faces right now? My biggest challenge is bringing my new visions and ideas into an old-school business. Finding ways to adapt to changing environments while staying consistent to what has worked for Gaby Iron for over a century.
What’s your business philosophy? Work hard to play hard.
What are the keys to success in the recycling industry? Creating good relationships, asking questions, and not getting frustrated.
What lessons have you learned about business in your career? I have learned that it never hurts to ask questions. Most of the time, people are willing to help.
What are some of your greatest personal achievements? Graduating college, climbing multiple 14,000-foot mountains, and getting married.
Which of your traits do you like the most? I have a positive outlook—I see the glass as half-full.
Is there anything about yourself you’d like to improve? I’d like to be less indecisive, and to not procrastinate.
You’ve been a great supporter of and participant in ISRI over the years. Why do you think that’s important? ISRI has made a huge impact on my personal and professional development in the scrap industry. Coming from a small family scrap business, ISRI opened doors and showed me the global link in which we are all connected. ISRI has expanded my network of partners and consumers with which to learn, grow, and succeed.
What are your favorite places in the world? Pike Lake, Wis.; the Colorado Rockies; anywhere on the water.
Favorite TV shows? American Pickers, Gold Rush, Chicago Fire/Chicago P.D., and Alaska: The Last Frontier.
What are your hobbies? Boating, hiking, golf, snow skiing, and waterskiing.
Is there anything you still want to accomplish, or have you achieved your goals? Far from it! I’m looking forward to helping my family continue a 110-year-old scrap business.
One on One Aaron Gaby Gaby Iron and Metal Co. (Chicago Heights, Ill.)