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George Adams Jr.: $3B+ in Sales, and Growing

It’s loud, it’s rough, it’s not for the faint of heart.

SA Recycling Chief Executive George Adams Jr. has another way to describe handling millions of tons of scrap metal bound for recycling each year: fun.

The company operates at more than 140 sites, ranging across the country from Georgia to California, with a major outpost on Terminal Island in the Port of Los Angeles.

“I began driving tow trucks when I was 17. Later, I started working alongside my father for 40 something years. My two brothers also work in the company and are my partners, and after all these years we’re still really close,” Adams told Recycling Magazine in an article published last month.

He added: “Then, my sons came into the business after they finished college. So, I guess that’s what makes it the most fun. It’s working with my sons.”

The Business Journal honored Adams almost a year ago at the Irvine Marriott with an Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award for leading the growth of Orange-based SA Recycling.

The privately held firm ranked No. 8 on the Business Journal’s fastest-growing OC large private companies last year, with revenue of $3.2 billion for the 12 months ended last June 30.

By sales, SA Recycling last year ranked No. 6 among all privately held companies in OC.

Electric Crane

Among the company’s innovations at Terminal Island is an electric-powered mobile crane that’s far more environmentally friendly than old-fashioned diesel models.

“This is definitely the finest scrap crane in the world,” Adams said at an event last summer, as he congratulated the port for its efforts to make the busy area “carbon-free.”
SA Recycling also uses electric vehicles there.

The Terminal Island plant shreds 500 to 600 cars each day, NPR member station KCRW said in a report last month.

“SA Recycling makes about $350 per car by selling the bits and pieces to companies in Asia: Korea, Vietnam, India,” according to KCRW. “China used to buy most of this material, but it’s not taking much anymore.”

1970s Start

George Adams Sr. in the 1970s started Anaheim-based scrap metal firm Orange County Steel Salvage, which eventually became SA Recycling.

The current CEO took over the company from his father in the mid-1980s.

As of last year, SA Recycling processed over 5 million tons of recycled metal every year with about 3,100 employees and 25 metal shredders companywide.

The company recycles both iron-based metals such as steel and non-ferrous metals including copper and aluminum.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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