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Martin Handley is an entrepreneur based in the North West with the ambition of uberizing the scrap industry, a sector with enormous potential.  Recycling and scrap are both big businesses now. Recycling is fast becoming fashionable, with us all being more aware of the effects on the planet poor quality waste disposal can have. 

Martin has a vision of making the scrap disposal more efficient and easier to use for the customer and helping good, ethical scrap dealers and yards thrive.  For too long, it has been difficult, too confusing for the consumer to find the right place to dispose of their car or household metal or find spare parts for vehicles.

They only partner with licensed, registered A.T.F.s who provide professional, reliable, and convenient vehicle and metal recycling, contributing to the U.K.’s circular economy. 

Childhood Fame, Ambition and Tragedy

Martin grew up in the North West, and from an early age, he has a passion for swimming.  It fast became a massive part of his childhood.  He talks of his “wonderful coach, Mr. Moorhouse,” who was like a second dad to him. 

He worked hard at his swimming from primary into senior school and was reaching a peak in his early teens.   He was selected to represent the U.K. at the European Olympics in Paris, where he won a gold medal.  He also won a place on a lottery-funded youth program to train for the World Youth Championships, but three months before the event, he broke his leg.  With world-class medical treatment provided by the team, he could still compete in the Australian World Championships. He won a jaw-dropping total of two gold, two silvers, and two bronze in his six events.

After the Championship, the team went their separate ways, and Martin was then invited to Swansea to train with the Youth Olympic Development Programme.  He was the youngest of the group by far,  living with an unfamiliar family, he fell out of love with the programme.

When he returned home to Burnley, Martin remained dedicated to the sport, but with friends joining the Army or heading to university, it became a lonely place just him and Mr. Moorhouse at the pool.

He continued to do well at college.  His parents would encourage him in everything and would offer money as an incentive.   Martin was becoming set on a course that determined him to win, wanted to do well, and have a good life.

He looked at office jobs but wanted to find something with flexible hours to prioritize his swimming still.   Unable to find anything, he started working part-time for a friend, going round the local streets collecting scrap as an itinerant collector.  He enjoyed it and the freedom it brought together with the diversity of different places to get the scrap from.

One client was a company called Wallace Reader and Sons, for whom they stripped cable regularly.  Martin ended up working full-time there, starting a career in scrap.  He enjoyed it and the freedom it brought together with the diversity of different places to get the scrap from.  Not long after he started work, he heard that his idol, Mr. Moorhouse, had passed away.  Swimming lost much of its appeal.

He started as a laborer and spent many years with Readers. During that time, his Uncle was building websites, which interested Martin.  He had loved I.C.T. at school.  He learned a little from his Uncle, taught himself more, and made a couple by himself, also achieving a google number one early on.

Back at Readers, Martin’s boss was suffering from Bells Palsy.  Martin volunteered to help out in the day-to-day running, and when his boss returned, he offered Martin a promotion with a profit share. Martin was still building websites and did one to help generate work for his Dad’s scrap car business. He created Reader’s site and took on more of the marketing work.

Over time, there was nowhere further for Martin to progress.  He had just decided to build more websites in his spare time, when he met Phillip Monk of MonkeyFish Marketing, Phillip praised the work Martin had done for one of his clients and queried why Martin wasn’t already working in marketing.  Martin told Phil about the potential of offering a service to generate leads for scrap.  Phillip was enthusiastic.  Inspired, Martin gave in his notice the next day. 

Looking back, Martin can see he jumped the gun.  While they set up a partnership, Phil hadn’t got the time immediately to get a new project off the ground, so before long, it was dissolved.

Martin continued to work on the concept with the help of his Dad, who was in scrap himself, and in 2018, returned to Phil to get the CRM system he needed building.   The system is part of the package they offer their directory members.  Martin started doing lead generation for various companies and in 2019 consolidated it all into one single brand,

What Scrap Local offers the Public

When I first spoke to Martin, he introduced his company as a Rated People for Scrap Dealers.  They help people find a local dealer, not just any dealer, but a reliable, trustworthy one. They are now one of the fastest-growing directories of scrap metal dealers in the U.K. 

Following the Scrap Metal Dealers Act of 2013, they want to promote safe and secure recycling and reduce theft and fraud.   They have expanded to areas that have implemented clean air zones and scrappage schemes in keeping with the growing demand for eco-friendly solutions.

Few people realize that different scrap dealers deal in cars, others in metal waste, and only some resell car parts.  Finding the right dealer is, therefore, an arduous task for the layman.

Martin believed that you should find the right place to go on the same enquiry if that company could not help.  He thought a central number should be added to supply that alternative built into a company’s IVR menu (pre-recorded choice options).

Customers are then forwarded to Scrap Local, where they can help find you the right dealer who buys that specific type of scrap with the service you need and one that is local to you.  You can also go directly to their website and search for a local, licensed, and rated yard offering competitive prices.  You can also search for car parts.  This also benefits the scrapyards and is part of the services that Scrap Local offers.

Being socially responsible and supporting sustainability is part of their values, and purpose and they are keen to promote greater transparency around this within the industry.

What they offer their Partners

From comedy programs onwards, scrap metal has not had the best of reputations.   Scrap local continuously monitor their recommended dealers for customer service, reliability, and their duty of care and safety.

The dealers win by getting promotions, leads, reviews, and lead generation software as part of the package.   Martin is genuinely passionate about helping everyone in the industry succeed.

In January 2021, they started a Kickstarter campaign of their own to help small businesses in their industry after COVID, kickback, and gain business, a generously discounted package of their help and support.

Collecting scrap

Scrap Local:  the entrepreneurial journey

During those 15 years in the scrap business, Martin had seen that digitalization had become crucial to the scrap market, both in terms of web development and lead generation. 

In November 2019, Martin set up the website.  When the site started to gain traction and generate leads, he started looking for clients.  Still working on his own, Martin struggled with confidence in making sales calls.   He asked Boost Lancashire for help and following their training.  He started to win clients.

Then COVID hit.  The money in scrap metal industries plummeted.  Luckily his overheads were still low, and he secured a bounce-back loan which enabled him to keep going.  He remembers being at a low point in April 2020, battling anxiety and depression, but his passion for his business kept him going.   But Martin admits it was very tough, and he was on his own till July.  He has also remained bootstrapped and self-funded throughout

When he started growing his team, everything changed.  Martin says that he hears of other companies having staff issues, whereas his team is a huge asset.  He gives continual credit to them all, but Nick, who joined in August from a full sales background, was able to make an enormous difference in a matter of weeks.  After some challenging months, sales are now booming as the word spreads and the team gathers momentum,

Like any fast-growth entrepreneurial business, they are continually re-inventing, replacing, revitalizing.  A current priority is building a new CRM system.  The old one was never geared to the scaling the company is already achieving. 

The company’s growth has been meteoric.  They have a continually growing team, currently sixteen, most of which are marketers and developers.  Martin is working hard to develop his leadership skills and gives his Liverpool-based mentor, Anton Hanley of T.L.A., colossal credit to help both him and the company develop and grow.

Martin’s ambition was for a better life for himself and his family. He has recently re-done his vision board as, as many people do, he had become slightly disconnected from it in the firefighting of the growth.  

He asks his team to all share their ambitions to incorporate what they want to achieve within the company’s plans.  He wants them to understand the link between doing their utmost for the customer resulting in them achieving their dreams.

They put their customers at the heart of everything.  Their aim is “To make recycling easy,” and Martin intends to extend his services into other areas of the waste management business in the future.

Along the way, Martin discovered, as all entrepreneurs do, that being at the top is lonely.  Rapid growth was tremendous but also meant he had to battle his old demons of anxiety and stress.   He worked on his resilience, finding help in alternative therapies and mindfulness. 

Even in this short time, Martin has been a finalist for the Service Industries Entrepreneur of the Year award in the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber Awards.  The company won the Most Innovative Recycling Service in Manchester and the North West of England in the Prestige awards.

The Scrap Local Team

Long Term Goals and Vision

Martin says that his Dad often tells him he is too busy with his head in the clouds and should concentrate on what he has achieved more and celebrate his success.   He agrees he can certainly remember not so long dreaming of achieving their current turnover and a team often.

Martin’s vision and goals have grown along with the company now.   Just as he intends to take his services into other areas of the waste industry, his mentor has helped him believe that he can build a company of a much larger size and even take it globally one day.


You might also be interested in this interview with a company pioneering the circular economy using otherwise wasted materials Pentatonic