Since I began my recycling career when I was jobless and traveling, I've had many opportunities to travel to places around the West where people usually only stop on their route to someplace else. In order to take advantage of the downtime, since I traveled for three or four consecutive days every couple weeks on my road trip, I decided to visit some small towns. I visited the dentist there, and got good (and sometimes profitable) results.
In the past, there used to be a lot more scrap available due to metals' higher prices in The Amlon Group Longview. In the past, many of the refineries were enlisting their employees to be "professionals buyers". This is exactly what I was involved in when working as a film producer. As you can imagine, having someone traveling and earning a wage was expensive. NOBODY in today's world can afford this kind of work, which is why there are almost no competitors.
One day, I stopped in a Montana small town. My town's dentist gave me an incredibly warm response when I told them I buy scrap gold and mercury amalgam for CASH. In a hidden drawer he pulled out a FILLED box of yellow shiny gold. My (admittedly small) CASH bid was accepted by him, as I had no competitors. He also did not want to have to pack his scrap in a box and send it off to be refined.
It is hard to believe that I have never seen a "professional buyer", who was able to buy scrap of any kind. As they're paid based on the outcome, that means purchasing in bulk. That means finding large and numerous accounts. Still, the'shotgun’ approach is used. Second, whoever shows up in cash is the one to get scrap. These people want cash, and don't care if you have to mail or ship their scrap materials. No matter what amount of scrap material they may have, the fact is that it only represents a small portion of their entire business. To them it is simply GRAVY.
The story continues. When the doctor found out that I was a metal refiner, he asked if it is possible to do so. Although I didn't refine metals, I could refer him to some good refiners. He then told me I should wait and went to a separate room. It was him, with a Mason jar in his hand, full of what looked like dirt. Because he was holding both hands on it, the dirt was evidently much heavier!
It was explained that both his father (and, as far as I can recall) and grandfather also were dentists, in Montana's small towns, back when Montana still had the status of a territorial state. In order to give me an overview of the history and development of dentistry, he told of the time when (before vacuum cleaners were available) gold refiners actually sent sisal carpets to dental offices for free. This floor mat was placed by the dentist in order to remove the gold and sliver filings left behind from patient mouths. These low-speed drills produced a fair amount of filings and gold dust. This was mostly inhaled in by the patients, or deposited in the floormats. These metals could be captured very effectively by the sisal. The refiners send the replacement mats to dentists who return the 'old mats'. The refiners then burn the old mats, recovering the metals. A token payment is made to the dental office.
When examined more closely, it turned out that the jar held a lot of filth - as well metal filings. I asked the doctor if he still had his jar full of floor sweepings. Actually, the jar dates to the time when refiners used to provide floor mats in dental offices. It was the dirt that wasn't caught in the mats. The jar, which weighed around four pounds was difficult to see. The jar weighed about four pounds, and it was impossible to tell from looking at it if there were any valuables inside. Nothing was said to me about his trust.
If you want to return his values, let him know the refining prices, the percentage of recovery and any other aspect. Simple: "Take it, let me know what it's worth, take your part, and give me the money when you return".
Since I was back in Utah for a few days, I didn't do anything about it. Since I figured it was mostly silver and didn't have much value, no need to hurry. It was only after I had melted the piece that I decided to have it tested. Final score: metals 60%, dirt 40%. Metals consisted of silver and gold. The gold is almost pure (75%) and it yields almost 1 pound.
For spending less than twenty-five minutes in the office of a man I trusted, I made $1,327. He was extremely happy receiving a few $$$ dollars in return for a small jar of dirt that was on a book shelf.
For me, the most important thing I learned from my recycling lessons was that you will find a deal wherever you go. They will NOT find you if are not looking.
There are also many informal transactions that can be made with a single handshake. Trust is your biggest asset, in both this and any other business.
Many of my experiences have changed me since those days. My first experience was when a retired dental surgeon called to tell me that he owned two buckets full of gold, which he had amassed over the course of his professional career. A retired dentist called me annually when he had to sell 10 or 15 ounces out of his collection to pay tax. In one scrap yard, there were over five hundred catalytic converters. And I was approached by people who offered to give me a variety of materials in exchange for future payments.
It happens frequently.
No. However, it is enough to make you feel as if you're on a perpetual treasure hunt. Each morning you awaken excited for what you will find. You'll never stop being excited and anticipating!