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Whitaker Motors goes green
Metal recycling replaces selling vehicles
W BIZ Whitaker Motors 1
Ken Whitaker looks out over the Whitaker Motors operation on Hwy 301 South that has been sold to Newell Recycling. Whitaker will stay on with Newell. - photo by JAMES HEALY/staff
      Local businessman Ken Whitaker recently sold his company Whitaker Motors to one of the largest metal recyclers in the southeast.  This past January, East Point, Georgia based Newell Recycling bought the company with the intent of turning the Highway 301 South location into a collection station to feed its giant "shredder" located at the Savannah Port.
       "I had been talking to these guys for a number of months," Whitaker said. "I was toying with the idea, and over Christmas I just said OK, and that was that."
       Founded by Jerrell Whitaker in 1967, Whitaker Motors has supplied salvaged auto parts to this area for more than four decades. Now every salvaged car and car part has been removed from the site and an industrial sized scale installed.
       "We are in the recycling business now," Whitaker said. "As of today, we will be buying scrap metal."
       Founded by Alton S. Newell, a one-time junk yard manager, Newell Recycling, LLC is one of the nation's premier processors of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metals. It is reported that Newell learned how to scrap cars by hand at a rate of 10 hours per car. In the early 1960s, Newell developed an efficient metal processing machine known today as the Newell Shredder. It is one of these infamous shredders that is now in operation at the Savannah Port.
       "We needed to set up what we would call feed stations to supply our shredder at the port," said Richard Riley, manager of strategic development for Newell. "The shredder can literally eat an entire automobile in 20 seconds. It requires a lot of scrap to stay busy."
       According to Riley, the Highway 301 South location will be the first one the company has opened in this area.
       "This station will serve a 50 mile radius," Riley said. "We hope to bring scrap metal in from not only Bulloch County, but from the surrounding counties as well. There is a tremendous amount of scrap in this area. It is up to us to make sure that people know we are here."
       Whitaker has agreed to work for Newell for the next two years. "I am very excited about the opportunity," he said. "I feel like this is very good for our community. They pay people/businesses for the scrap metal that they bring, and then Newell takes it out of our community down to their shredder where it is demolished and prepared for shipping either within this country or abroad. Not to mention they are very good corporate citizens."
       Even though the price of recycled scrap metal has declined below previous highs of just a few months ago, Riley remains optimistic.
       "This is a tough time economically, but we are a company that has been built over the long haul through the last several decades," he said. "The market will come back eventually and it is our job to be prepared when it does rebound. Putting in collection stations like this is certainly the way to do that. We want to be prepared."
       Whitaker wants local residents to no that any metal is welcome at Newell recycling.
       "Newell is able to serve any size scrap metal client - from a Cub Scout Troup with aluminum can recycling program - to large industrial clients that require comprehensive, large scale, time-sensitive services to handle hundreds of tons of scrap," Whitaker said. "Just bring whatever you have from cans to cars, and we will pay you for it. We are ready to help you get rid of all that old stuff that is just lying around the yard or whatever scrap you may have."
       Whitaker is married to the former Leigh Adams of Statesboro. His father Jerrell Whitaker is retired.
       To learn more about Newell Recycling, visit their website at www.newellrecycling.com