Five years after immigrating to Detroit from Italy, Angelo Iafrate saved enough money from working at a Ford plant to buy a secondhand dump truck. What started as a side job in 1960 has ultimately turned into a materials recycling company that has invested $12 million into the area this year.
Along with buying a former 13-acre PSTA maintenance facility at 855 28th St. S for $2 million for its new headquarters and a processing facility, Angelo's Recycled Materials has bought land to build two similar operations in Orlando and one each in Brandon and Lakeland. It already has materials processing facilities in Largo and Lutz.
At these facilities, tons of concrete from demolished sidewalks, roads or buildings get crushed and sorted and then go back out as filler that's used for roads, sewer systems, patios and more.
"By pulling out and reclaiming concrete, metals, cardboard, plastics, wood and other materials from the waste stream, we are helping to avoid unnecessary landfilling," said Dominic Iafrate Jr., Angelo's 33-year-old grandson.
Plans to open a 90-acre landfill in Pasco County fell through in 2009 after neighbors rallied against it and permitting was denied. But Dominic Iafrate and his brother, Steve, 31, say recycling waste is clearly the company's future.
"We are very lean and conservatively run, so during the economic downturn we stayed strong. It gave us the opportunity to invest in four new facilities that we will have on line within a year's time," Dominic Iafrate said.
Angelo Iafrate grew his single dump truck into a Michigan company with 500 employees, eventually sold it and came to Florida to retire in 1997. But retirement didn't last.
By 2005, his son and grandsons had joined him in Florida to grow his new company, which had 50 employees. It now employs 100 people and plans to double that within five years, Dominic Iafrate said.
The headquarters is adding accounting, marketing and office jobs while the processing facilities employ truck drivers, mechanics, scale operators and more. Entry-level wages range from $14 to $18, but the company's cost for health care is built into that. Angelo's handled the waste from the Birchwood hotel renovation and is recycling the construction debris from the massive BayWalk makeover into the Shops at St. Pete. Other clients are the Pinellas County School Board and the cites of Largo, Dunedin and Plant City.
Greenway Recycling, with locations in Clearwater and Lakeland, is another player in materials recycling. It processed the waste from the demolition of some of the old All Children's Hospital.
St. Petersburg zoning official Philip Lazzara said the arrival of Angelo's Recycled Material has been positive. The former PSTA building it bought had most recently belonged to a construction company that was using the property as a type of salvage yard and had not made required city improvements.
"(Angelo's) completed all of the required work to meet the city's conditions of approval. Some of what was required includes the large masonry buffer wall you see facing 28th Street S, as well as the heavy landscaping that was done along the northern side facing the Pinellas Trail," Lazzara said. "The work they had to do was pretty significant."
The company is in good standing with Pinellas County Air Quality division. All that crushing of concrete "is a potential source of fugitive dust," said Peter Hessling, air quality division manager for Pinellas County. "But they are meeting the general air regulations."
Records show it is also in compliance with the Department of Environmental Protection. Angelo's completed one set of corrective actions required at its Largo facility in 2009 and has had no concerns since, according to Mara Burger, spokeswoman for the DEP.
As the company grows, it plans to invest in other St. Petersburg businesses and the city, Dominic Iafrate said. It was a major sponsor of the recent professional beach volleyball tournament and hauled many loads of sand to and from Vinoy Park for the event.
Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8785.