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Expanded recycling center to open in Rochester

Watson recycling is all in the family with Glen (middle) and four of his boys, form left: Jon, Dave, Jeremiah and Tim. The family business will be moving to the north side of Rochester on 52.
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A family-owned Rochester firm is launching a new $3.5 million project that will more than triple its size.

Watson Recycling, which has been run by the Watson family in Rochester for four generations, is creating a new facility on 12 acres.

Workers started moving dirt this week on 81st Street Northeast near 11th Avenue. Machinery is being set up in two buildings, with 24,000 square feet total, that were previously used by Rochester Lumber and St. Joseph Equipment.

The hope is to open on the new site by mid-December. The current, 7,800-square-foot North Broadway location will remain open for at least a year after the new facility opens.

At its North Broadway location, Watson buys aluminum, copper, stainless steel and other nonferrous metals. Then it resells the metal to mills.


Jeremiah Watson, the CEO and one of four brothers who run the business, says the new site will allow the company to dramatically expand what it accepts.

"There is such an opportunity in Olmsted County for scrap vehicles, scrap farm equipment and iron and steel from construction waste," he said. "A lot of it is going out of the county now."

After using machinery to drain fluids and remove valuable parts like catalytic converters and rims, the vehicles will be smashed into easily shipped 4-by-6-foot blocks of metal.

Customers will be able to bring recyclables inside for unloading, and a truck scale will calculate loads.

The Watsons say they will need to hire about 12 to 15 people.

The business that dates back to Jeremiah's great-grandfather, who collected rags in a horse-drawn wagon and food waste to feed hogs.

In 1987, Glen Watson bought the business from his father. He set up Olmsted County's first recycling program and later focused on processing high-grade paper and other recyclables.

Four of his sons — Jeremiah, David, John and Tim — took the reins from him in 2006. They then shifted Watson Recycling into non-ferrous metals and found new markets.


"From 2006 to 2008, we tripled our gross income," Jeremiah said. "In 2008, we reached our capacity where we are."

Since then, the family has been looking for land for a new facility. In May, they started working on a deal to buy the 81st Street property from Brad Herman. The sale wrapped up last week.

While he admits the large investment makes him a bit nervous, Glen Watson is proud of his sons making their vision a reality.

"Young people have that burning drive and a new vision. Us older people just need to encourage and guide," he says. "If you want something to stay in the family, you have to have that vision of growth."


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