Sam Gershowitz, the founder and owner of Gershow Recycling, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI). The award is given to someone in the scrap recycling industry for their significant contributions to recycling.
Mr. Gershowitz started working at an early age, holding three to four jobs while attending high school. His first job was delivering cases of soda to families in apartment buildings. He later sold corrugated boxes and imported hardware for hardware stores and casket makers, then tanned furs for a furrier. During the winter, he signed up as an emergency worker with the New York City Sanitation Department.
As a young man who spent his weekends driving out to the Hamptons, Mr. Gershowitz noticed junk cars, old appliances and scrap metal left along the roadways. He recognized that Long Island had a solid waste problem and that something could be done about it.
In 1964, Mr. Gershowitz started Gershow Recycling. He started mining junk cars out of municipal landfills, paying a dollar for each car he pulled out. He opened his first location in Central Islip and made his brother Lou his business partner. Together, they built their own car flattener. The cars were crushed, then sold to local scrap dealers at a profit.
In 1974, Mr. Gershowitz opened a new location in Medford. Since then, under his leadership, Gershow expanded to nine locations with over 750 employees. The company has made numerous improvements over the years, including the development of its headquarters, the electrification of the shredder and new recycling equipment.
In addition to his business, Mr. Gershowitz has been very active in the community. He has supported the Strang Cancer Prevention Institute and the fund drive for the Southampton Hospital’s Montauk Medical Center. He also worked with the Suffolk County Board of Rabbis to provide funding for a menorah display at Islip MacArthur Airport for Hanukkah.
Each year, Mr. Gershowitz offers an Environmental Conservation Scholarship to graduating high school students who wish to continue their studies in either environmental science or engineering. He also supported Can Tabs for Kids, which benefits the Sunrise Fund in the fight against childhood cancer, and Play for Peace, a soccer tournament that uses sport as a way for people from different ethnic backgrounds to find common ground.
“I wish to thank ISRI for bestowing this honor on me and recognizing Gershow Recycling,” Mr. Gershowitz said. “Like Gershow, our industry has come a long way since 1964. I feel today we are recognized as a vital part of the American economy, American industry and America’s manufacturing industry, and we are also key to maintaining and improving our environment. We have a quite a lot to be proud of and we know we go to work each day with the gratification that we are making a positive impact, not only in our local communities, but in making our world a better, cleaner place to live in.”