As I was traveling and unemployed, I visited many places that are only seen by people on their way from one place to another. Because I used to do road trips roughly every two-weeks and I’d be away for up to three days each time, I made sure I had some free time in between and stopped at these tiny towns. There, I’d call the local dentist and get good (and often profitable) results. More hints?
This was many years ago, when metal prices were higher and there was more competition to get scrap. Most of the large refineries sent their representatives out to act as “professional purchasers” which was essentially the same thing I was doing when working in film. The cost of having someone earn a living and travel full-time is enormous. NOBODY today can afford to employ people who do this, and so this is a business that has almost NO competitors.
I did stop one day, however, in a tiny town in Montana. The town dentist was very friendly when I explained that I would pay CASH to scrap gold or amalgam. A box was pulled from his drawer, which contained glistening yellow gold. Because I didn’t have any competition, and because he wasn’t willing to risk shipping his scrap to a refiner (along with the taxes that would be incurred if he received a big check), he accepted my CASH offer.
The first and second lessons: I am yet to meet a professional “buyer” who can efficiently buy ANY kind of scrap. Because they are being paid by results, this means they have to buy large amounts of scrap. To do so, it is necessary that you go where there are the most accounts. The’shotgun method’ is still used. Second, whoever shows up first with money in hand gets to keep the scrap. People who want scrap do not care about shipping or mailing it to someone else, even if they “may” receive a check. It doesn’t matter how much scrap you have, to the people who sell it it represents a very small part of their overall business.
Let’s go back to the beginning. He asked if i refined metals. The doctor asked me if I reprocessed metals. He told me to hold on a second and he went in a room behind. In his hand was an apparently dirty Mason jar. The way he had it in both his hands made it obvious it was heavier than normal dirt.
He informed me that, as I remember, both his father and his grandfather worked in the small town of Montana, when Montana was a state. He told me a bit about dentistry’s history, including how before the advent of vacuum cleaners and suction pump machines, gold refiners sent free mats of sisal to dentists. In the dental operatories, the dentists would place these mats to collect the filings of gold and silver from patients. These old, low-speed tools would create a large amount of silver and gold dust. The majority of it was inhaled by patients or ended in floor mats. It was found that sisal worked well at capturing the metals. Dentists returned the “old” mats after receiving replacements from the refiners. The refiners burned the mats for the metals they contained and paid a token amount to the dentist.
The jar contained metal filings and dirt. He told me that he had kept this jar in his office over many decades. The jar dates back to when dental offices still used floor mats from refiners. This was the dust that the mats didn’t catch. I couldn’t tell by looking inside the four-pound jar whether it contained anything worth destroying. He asked me if I could take it to my refiner to be tested. It was clear that I’d earned his confidence and there were no negative remarks.
The percentage recovery or the cost of refining can be returned to him. You can simply say, “take the item and tell me what it is worth. Take your share and bring the money to me when you next visit the area”.
After I arrived in Utah, I let it sit on the shelf for about two weeks before I decided what to do with it. No hurry, I thought. It probably contained some metals (mostly silver) and was not very valuable. Finally, I took it to my refining shop and had him melt it down and do an assay. Final score for dirt: 40%. Metals 60%. Metals included silver and gold. The gold was nearly 18K (75% gold pure), and the jar produced almost one pound pure gold.
Spending no longer than 20 minutes in his office I was able to earn his trust. The man was thrilled to receive a few thousand dollars for the DIRT that was sitting on his shelf.
My recycling experience taught me that you can find the best deals by going to where they are. You will not find them if you do nothing.
You’d be surprised at how much informal business can also be done with just a simple handshake. You will be able to use this trust in all your business ventures.
The experiences I had in those first years have been eye-opening. The retired dentist who called me had 2 five gallon plastic buckets FULL OF GOLD he saved during his career. Once a year, he would need to liquidate ten to fifteen ounces from his gold hoard in order to pay for taxes. The farmer had a barn filled with almost 10,000 catalytic conversions. There was a junk yard that contained over 5,000. People have offered me scrap materials of every kind with the promise to pay in the future.
How often does it occur?
No. Then it becomes a treasure hunt every day – each morning you wake up with excitement to see what’s in store for you! Believe me when I say that the anticipation and excitement seem to never end.