Arnold Gachman makes building leaders a legacy

Betty Dillard

Arnold Gachman has been building future leaders and shaping strong communities for most of his life, so it was no surprise that the top brass of Gamtex Industries, a century-old metals and recycling business based in Fort Worth, was honored recently with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. “Throughout his career, Arnold Gachman has proven to not only be a wonderful leader for the scrap recycling industry, but his generosity, ability to teach others and willingness to learn have helped set our industry’s course for decades to come,” noted ISRI President Robin Wiener during the award presentation in Florida. A lifelong resident of Fort Worth and a business graduate of Texas Christian University, Gachman has more than 50 years in the metalworking industry. At age 27, he was named general manager of the family business, Gachman Metals (later Gachman Metals and Recycling Co.). Five years later, in 1974, he became its president. The company was founded in 1913 by his grandfather, Jacob Gachman, a Russian immigrant, and remains family-owned and -operated through four generations. Sought by industry colleagues for his experience and expertise, Gachman is a past national president of ISRI, the trade association for recycling of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, glass, paper and plastic. He is former chairman of the National Association Supply Co-Operative, the purchasing organization for the recycling industry; past vice chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; founding member of the Texas Cast Metals Association; and vice president of The Recycling Council of Texas. Gachman builds public service into his business by giving tours of his facility and operating a public buyback center. He is chairman of trustees of Baylor All Saints Medical Center and is a member of the board at Sammons Transplant Institute at Baylor. He is also on the board of governors of The Fort Worth Club and is a vice president of Beth El Congregation and AddRan College of Texas Christian University Board of Visitors. Gachman is immediate past chairman of the University of North Texas Health Science Center Foundation and a member of the UNTHSC advisory board. He received the Person of Vision Award from UNTHSC in 2012. He also serves on the Health Benefits Advisory Board of the city of Fort Worth. Gachman and his wife, Harriette, were honored recently with the All Saints Foundation Moncrief Philanthropy Award. The couple, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in August, have two children and four grandchildren. They are members of Congregation Ahavath Sholom and Beth El Congregation, Jewel Charity Ball, Shady Oaks Country Club and The Fort Worth Club. “It is up to those who are more experienced to mentor and build future leaders and to encourage all levels of involvement, from serving as national officers to outreach in local communities,” Gachman said.

What positive changes have you seen during your involvement in the scrap metal recycling industry? Professional managers employed by family and public companies that have business skills and manage by numbers. A good understanding of risk management and regulatory compliance. High-tech equipment that is production-geared and safer for employees.

What changes has your company provided? We have mirrored the prior advances. We have also broadened our services and products to compliment the basic metal business.

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What challenges do recyclers face today? How about the challenges of a family-owned business? The same as many other business owners: Access to capital, regulatory and code compliance, retaining and training good employees, community and government relations. And succession planning, development of family members working in the business and provision for members not involved. What role does the government play in the scrap metal recycling industry? Government encompasses multiple aspects of involvement. The national, state and local governments engage in developing markets or designing and promoting products that are recycle friendly. Government encourages export and domestic use of recycled materials. They legislate and formulate rules for environmental, safety, transportation, employment, code and zoning. Recently the rise in metal theft has put increased requirement on transaction and trade reporting and purchases from the public. Speaking of metal theft, how has the passage of Senate Bill 694 in 2011 impacted recyclers? (S.B. 694 requires a seller to provide additional documentation to the metal recycling entity when attempting to sell a regulated material.) It has helped to differentiate the responsible recycle operators from rogue operators that have ignored local and state efforts to deter thieves. How is Gamtex dealing with health care reform? What are you doing to hold down rising health care costs for your employees? We have been able to offer employees and families coverage for over 50 years. It is difficult to predict the next decision to continue health care and stay competitive. We have modified coverages, raised co-pay and deductibles, and promoted health screening and education.

Describe your leadership style. I prefer a team style with consensus building. I respect my fellow associates’ skills and differences. I do not like micro-managing but am able to make a decision without hesitation if necessary. I hold others and myself accountable to the results.

What do you like best about your job? About giving back to the community? The ability to draw on my experience and that of others who have been in business and have the scars to prove it. Watching the next generation apply better skills in the same battles and succeed, or help coach them like a player coach to overcome a failure. Giving back to the community is important as a business and as a person. A business has a responsibility to make profits, maintain sound financial principles but keep ethical and community welfare as part of its purpose. A professional person cannot be just self-serving. A sense of being a representative of their business identity is integrated with their personal development to better society. We grow not only through business success but how we feel about our personal ability to raise the bar for society by our individual commitment.