Boorstein Proves His Mettle

June 9, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
Print
Text Size:
A A
GRAND RAPIDS — With alloy pumping through his veins, Bill Boorstein oozes the passion necessary to keep the family business running.

As president of Franklin Metal Trading Corp., Boorstein seemingly has been in metals since before he was born. His grandparents, coming to the United States from Russia and Sweden, made a stop in Grand Rapids and decided to make it their home.

Not having a set career, Boorstein's grandfather, Ben Liberman, began to collect metal and sell it until he began working with a partner, Alex Gittlen. Together they made brass and bronze furniture parts from scrap metal for furniture manufacturers and formed the Liberman and Gittlen Metal Co.

Fast forward to the next generation: When Boorstein's father, Arnold, wanted to start a store in Muskegon called The Men's Shop, his father-in-law was more than willing to help him out. When the clothing store didn't turn out to be a successful venture and his father-in-law needed help, Arnold Boorstein turned to the scrap metal business.

"My mom told him that her father had helped him out when he needed it," said Boorstein. "And now it was his turn to help him out when he needed it."

Further down the line, Boorstein was getting ready to graduate from the University of Michigan when his adviser recommended he stay on for one more year and get his master's degree.

After that was completed and Boorstein looked into obtaining his MBA, his adviser urged him to go for a Ph.D. instead, and meanwhile take as many business classes as he wanted.

"When I graduated with my Ph.D. my dad was eager to get me back in town and into the family business of scrap metal," said Boorstein. "I told him that I was in the forefront of the (engineering) field and wasn't ready to go back to that. So I decided to look into other opportunities."

Boorstein and his wife, Donna, looked into aerospace jobs in California but ultimately Boorstein decided on an offer from Ohio State University to join the faculty as a metallurgical engineering professor. He admitted that, at that time, the university operated on a "good ol' boys" network and he was recommended for the job at just the right time.

After eight years Boorstein decided it was time for a sabbatical and wanted to take the time to see if teaching was his true path. After a year with Viking Corp. in Hastings his dad asked him to stay in town and work with him.

He finally agreed.

In the mean time, Boorstein's father decided to sell the business and become a metal broker. After subsequent growth, it became obvious the company had to handle physical metal and brokerage services, so the equipment and facilities of Franklin Iron and Metal Company of Battle Creek, partly owned by Boorstein's uncle, Louis, were used. Consequently, the name Franklin Metal Trading Corp. was adopted.

Today Franklin Metal Trading Corp. is run from its headquarters in Grand Rapids and its main plant in Lake Odessa. The company operates a metal collection and recycling business working with nonferrous metals including aluminum, zinc, copper, stainless steel and nickel.

The company performs recovery, cleaning, sorting, breaking and melting down of the various metal alloys for resale.

"We are able to collect the metal from industrial sites and dismantlers to get scrap metal and transmission housings," said Boorstein. "We melt it all down and we can then re-alloy it to create the customer's desired chemical composition and deliver it in 1,200-pound sows for the customer to melt and inject into their injection molds."

Boorstein also works with attorneys and insurance adjusters doing forensic metal work. After an accident or problem with a piece of metal, Boorstein examines it in an analytical lab in Chicago to determine if it was faulty or what the factor in its failure was.

Franklin Metal Trading Corp. currently employs about 20 and will be moving the Grand Rapids headquarters later this month to a new location near the airport at Broadmoor Avenue and 44th Street.

Boorstein said the business wasn't really looking for anything larger, just a better location and something with nicer offices. With the South Beltline near the new facility, Boorstein said the logistics of traveling between Lake Odessa and Grand Rapids will be a smooth transition.

Boorstein also has been able to make a smooth transition between his personal and professional life, with his wife keeping track of accounting, business expenses, programs, pensions, health care, invoices and other tasks in the office.

The Boorsteins also enjoy gardening and traveling, and Boorstein is an avid physical fitness guru, even taking two of his children on separate hiking and whitewater rafting trips in Idaho.

"It is great to get out there and for me it is very relaxing," said Boorstein. "It allows me to clear my head and it just makes you feel very good about everything around you going on in your life."    

Recent Articles by Katy Rent

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus