“It’s slightly ironic that the best view of the city is located at the top of a scrapyard”

says Lenny Richman, the 5th generation of S.D. Richman Sons. And let me tell “you’s guys”, he ain’t lying. Located in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, S.D. Richman Sons prides itself on top quality metal scrap and their city skyline views. On Monday afternoon we found ourselves climbing to the top of a massive baler (that literally eats cars), looking out into the distance, beyond the massive pile of metal scrap and gazing at the entire city skyline – the Ben Franklin included. It was honestly breathtaking…and then you remember you’re in a scrap yard. 

S.D. Richman didn’t always come with it’s beautiful views though. They were actually founded in 1901 in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. As many of you know, there was a lack of cars in 1901 so they got their start hauling metal scrap via horse and buggy. In 1936 they became pioneers of the industry by fully incorporating machines into the scrapping process. Fast forward to now –  the fourth and fifth generations, Bruce and Lenny, a father and son duo, have taken innovation to the next level by incorporating modern technology with old school ideals. 

One of the first things that you notice when you are wandering the yard is the abundance of street signs. Yes, actual street signs. Apparently, S.D. holds the contract for scrapping ALL of the city’s street signs. They serve as the graveyard for Philly street signs but no one pays attention to street signs in this city anyway. They also have copious amounts of refrigerators, engines, cars and laptops. The contents of the scrap is sorted on a conveyer belt and then cleaned with high pressure water hoses. It is then compacted and run through the baler which is basically like a massive shredder that can shred through 40 tons of scrap in an hour. The entire process only takes about a minute to complete, so you can imagine how much metal they are processing every single day. 

From horse and buggies to switch board control rooms, S.D. has not only acclimated to the ever changing industry but forged the path. So much has changed since 1901 but in a sense, the core business has stayed the same. The sense of family and integrity runs deep at 2435 Wheatsheaf Lane. And I’m sure it’s not easy being the largest scrap metal buyer in Philadelphia and not everybody could do it…

”but everybody’s not Bruce Richman.” – Bruce Richman

Written by Kristin DeBias