Proler’s ingenuity and innovation led to the invention of the automobile shredder, a gamechanger in the recycling industry.

Waste360 Staff, Staff

April 18, 2018

2 Min Read
ISRI Honors Sam Proler with Lifetime Achievement Award

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) honored industry leader Sam Proler of Proler Steel with its Lifetime Achievement Award at ISRI’s annual convention and exposition in Las Vegas. Proler’s ingenuity and innovation led to the invention of the automobile shredder, a development that changed the course of the industry.

“Sam Proler came from a distinguished family of recyclers. He was passionate about recycling, the environment and his family,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, in a statement. “He made countless contributions that had significant impacts on the recycling industry. Early on in his career, he helped change the image of the industry by eliminating the word ‘junk’ from the name of the family business. However, Sam Proler, along with his brothers, will always be remembered for developing the automobile shredder, which forever reshaped our industry. Whenever anyone sets foot in a scrapyard, they just have to take a quick look around to see the Proler legacy. ISRI is honored to present Sam Proler with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Sam was born into a recycling family. His family owned The City Junk Company in Houston. Growing up, he learned the business from his father while riding along on a horse-drawn junk wagon after school and on the weekends. During the Great Depression, Sam was forced to quit school after the 8th grade and begin working in the family business. Within four years, he was running the company. At the age of 18, he recognized that scrap was not junk and changed the company’s name to Proler Steel to better reflect the value of scrap. Over the next four decades, Sam and his brothers Izzie, Hymie and Jackie, built Proler Steel into a publicly-traded, international company. Proler retired from Proler Steel Corp in 1969; however, he continued his involvement with the industry offering new ideas. Proler passed away in February 2018 at the age of 101, and his daughter Joyce Schechter (pictured in the article image) accepted the award on his behalf. 

It was in 1956 that the Proler brothers developed an idea that would forever change the recycling industry: The Prolerizer. This groundbreaking machine was capable of recycling whole automobiles, a process that increased efficiency and quality in recycling. The Prolerizer also had a positive influence on the environment, an issue very close to Proler. During this era, many cars were discarded in fields, woods and even highways. Proler worked with President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Ladybird on a national beatification project to recycle more cars through the Prolerizer.

Ron Reich, who is renowned throughout the industry for his knowledge of metal, was also presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the convention this week.

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