Toy's Scrap & Salvage
If you happen to be in Eau Claire, Wis., it's likely you will notice all the neatly painted containers with "Toy's Scrap" written on the side in big letters. There are approximately 800 of them in Wisconsin. The logo is also on numerous trucks and trailers traveling throughout the Midwest.
"We're like a big billboard coming down the highway," said Tom Toy.
Tom is the second-generation owner of Toy's Scrap & Salvage Corp., a family business founded by his father Reed H. Toy in 1961.
Love Of Scrap
"My dad started out as a young high school kid who went around the neighborhood picking up scrap and selling it to the local scrap yard," explained Tom. "He continued even after he went to work for American Motor Car Company in Racine, Wis., about four hours away. He'd come home weekends with scrap or dragging an old Hudson or some type of auto home to sell. He eventually started his own salvage yard."
Tom remembered the days before computers at Toy's Scrap & Salvage Corp. "We put in Hotlines, so there were four different speakers and four different telephones," he recalled. "You'd hear over the speaker, 'Anybody got a front end for a '69 Chevy?' It paid to have someone by the hotline all day long."
During the 1970s and 1980s, the business focused heavily on auto and truck parts. At the same time, it was handling scrap metal and taking on wrecking jobs to generate the scrap.
In 1991, Reed H. Toy died in an accident on a job site. Reed's wife Wilma, a partner in the business, took over for the next decade. At the time, Tom was out of the auto and scrap recycling industry altogether and committed to constructing bridges. When Wilma retired in 2003, Tom returned.
"Growing up, I worked alongside my dad with a cut torch or a wrench in my hand when other kids were playing baseball," recalled Tom. "It's always been a family business, honest and hardworking. I made a deal with my mom and took it over."
Tom focused the business on scrap. "After my dad died, my heart just wasn't into parts," he explained. "We went completely and fully into scrap metal and recycling."
Today, Toy's Scrap & Salvage Corp. (ToysScrap.com) has two locations. The original in Eau Claire and one that opened in July 2009 in Rice Lake, Wis., just 50 miles away. The business supplies roll-off containers for construction projects, manufacturing plants and it delivers containers to railroad wrecks and dismantled bridge sites. It also sends portable crushers to auto recycling facilities where it buys the crushed cars.
"If it has anything to do with scrap, we're there," said Tom. "No job is too big or too small. We buy scrap from the general public, too. We have scales at both of our locations and get a couple hundred customers a day who come from a 50-mile plus radius."
"We're so busy that our challenge in the last 10 years has been managing our growth," said Tom. He also owns a transportation company called Toy's Transport, which transports scrap and materials for other businesses. Toy's Custom Shearing, a third company, specializes in demolition work for government projects. Plans are to continue to grow, with perhaps another satellite yard for scrap.
"Fifteen years ago, people would turn up their noses at a guy in the scrap business," noted Tom. "Today it's a whole different story because recycling is good for the environment. They line up to shake your hand."
Owners: Tom & Christine Toy
Location: Eau Claire, Wis. & Rice Lake, Wis.
Years In Business: 49