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North Lawrence's Advantage Metals Recycling set to open next week at Teepee Junction

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A big building to store a lot of junk: It is enough to make me drool.

It also is the newest business in North Lawrence. As we have reported several times over the last year, Kansas City, Mo.-based Advantage Metals Recycling is redeveloping the old Kaw Motors salvage yard at the Teepee Junction in North Lawrence. (That's the intersection of U.S. Highways 24/59 and U.S. Highways 24/40 just north of the Kansas Turnpike.)

Well, the business is almost set to open its new facilities to the public. Advantage President Raynard Brown told me he plans to have a soft opening for the Lawrence facility early next week, and is likely to have a grand opening in the second week of November.

As its name suggests, buying metal items for scrap is the main part of Advantage Metals Recycling's business.

"We'll be buying most items made of metal that are at the end of their life," Brown said. "That goes all the way from aluminum cans, automobiles, faucets, stainless steel sinks. It's pretty much any metal item you can think of."

Advantage's parent company is Nucor Corporation, the largest steel producer in the U.S. It operates plants all over the country that use large amounts of recycled steel to produce new steel. In the region, Nucor operates a large plant in Norfolk, Neb.

According to its website, Nucor is the largest recycler of scrap iron steel in North America. Its Lawrence location will be able to handle fairly large volumes. The company tore down the one dilapidated building on the old Kaw Motors site and replaced it with a new 120,000-square-foot warehouse and office building. Large amounts of the material taken by Advantage will be stored inside, although larger items like junk cars, old appliances and other materials will be stored in a fenced-in area out of view of the main highway. The company will operate on about 12 acres.

Chase Saunders, the facility manager for the Lawrence location, said the site will give the company options to expand services in the future. Initially, Advantage will focus only on recycling metal-based products. But Saunders said he wants to eventually add cardboard and glass drop-off options as well.

"We want to help make Lawrence greener than it already is," Saunders said.

It will be interesting to see how the facility evolves, but even more interesting to watch will be the evolution of Lawrence's recycling industry. As we've previously reported, the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center, which also does a lot of business in the scrap metal industry, has moved to a major new facility just north of 11th and Haskell in East Lawrence. There's also the longest standing scrap metal recycling company in town, Lonnie's Recycling, 501 Maple St. in North Lawrence.

We'll see if there is a shakeout in the industry, which has been a little soft to begin with in recent years as slowdowns in manufacturing and construction have depressed demand for recycled steel.

As for Advantage, they'll be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The business is expected to employ seven full-time workers.

That's all well and good, but I just can't get my mind off that 120,000-square-foot building. Just think of all the things I could store. Old cars, parts cars for the old cars, parts cars for the parts cars. (Don't mind that smell in the air, by the way. That's just the smoke coming from my wife's ears.)

Other news and notes from around town:

• Maybe a firefighter can take care of that smoke problem. I've got word that Lawrence will have more firefighters than normal in the city this week. Officials with the local chapter of the International Association of Firefighters tell me that they've landed a significant firefighter convention for Lawrence.

More than 200 firefighters from the association's 2nd District, which includes Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, will be in Lawrence this week for a multiday series of educational seminars. The convention begins today and will run through Saturday. Events will be based out of the SpringHill Suites by Marriott downtown. It sounds like the event also will include a pub crawl and a tailgate at Saturday's Kansas University-Oklahoma game. Hopefully they'll bring their jaws of life with them. The KU offense has needed rescuing lately.

This is a good point for me to mention that if you know of a convention that is going to attract a couple hundred people or so to town, send me a note and I'll try to mention it in a future column. I've heard from businesses who appreciate knowing what type of visitors we have coming to our community.

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