USM’s Success Story

A timeline of USM that highlights our dedication to the industry and the
major events that help create our company.

 2013 – USM/BLH Computers opens their 5th  BLH Computer location next to the USM Recycling facility in Alsip, Illinois.

2013 – Universal expands in Kentucky under the name USM Alumacycle, purchasing a state-of the-are facility from Anheuser-Busch Recycling Corporation. The facility prepares used beverage containers for processing at aluminum smelting facilities.

2013 – With one of the largest sales teams in Chicago, USM continues to build and expand its business, developing new niche markets and enhancing its specializations by partnering with experienced companies nationwide.

2012 – Once again Recycling Today ranks Universal in the Top 20 of the largest non-ferrous scrap processors in North America.

2012 – Universal acquires Premier Metal Recyclers, one of Chicago largest copper processors,  specializing in the marketing and processing of mill grade copper and wire.

2011 – USM ranked in the Top 100 Largest Recycling Companies in North America by Waste and Recycling News.

2011 – USMe acquires BLH Computers, Inc. increasing their electronics & metal recycling presence in Central Illinois.

2010Recycling Today ranks Universal in the Top 20 of the largest non-ferrous scrap processors in North America.

2009 –Universal creates a new electronics division, USMe, to focus on the responsible recycling and remarketing of electronic scrap.

2008 – Universal increases its bulk recycling capacity with a new facility on North Artesian Avenue in Chicago.

2006Crain’s Fast Fifty lists Universal as one of the fastest growing Chicago companies, with an annual revenue increase of 153.2% since 2001.

2003-2004 Universal ranks as the 48th largest privately held nonferrous scrap processors in the USA and one of the largest in Chicago.

2001 – Universal handles more than 80 million pounds of non-ferrous materials a year with plenty of room to grow.  Annual revenue has increased twenty-fold in the past 15 years.

2001 – Universal acquires the Wise Recycling Chicago business unit and forms USM Recycling to handle the increased business near its Alsip, IL location.

1999 – USM Processing Ltd is brought to the West Fulton Street facility.

1997 – In a pivotal year, USM has exponential growth and seeks a new, larger facility.  Finding and voluntarily cleaning up a contaminated Brownfield property that once housed a marble and granite manufacturer, USM’s new headquarters on the six and a half acre site now comprises a 121,000 sq. ft. facility.  The West Fulton Street state-of-the-art site is ideally situated close to major expressways and is just west of the Chicago Loop.  USM now handles 15,000 tons of ferrous scrap annually, plus expands with three major acquisitions/partnerships:

Mandel Metals Recycling Division – USM acquires Mandel Metals and integrates its 50 years of mill grade aluminum business into a substantial niche.

Sloan Metal Company – USM acquires Sloan Metal and transitions it into USM Processing, Ltd and assumes their role as Contract Processor of UBCs (used beverage cans) for Alcoa Recycling Co.  Also marks USM’s entry into precious metal recovery.

Alcoa Recycling Company – Alcoa awards approval to USM as a Contractor Processor for UBCs.  Alcoa has a highly developed structure of UBC processing and maintains rigorous standards for their recycling associates.

1986 – USM procures a new 50,000 sq. ft. facility on Chicago’s West Side to house its rapidly increasing capacity.

1985 – Philip Zeid, a second generation scrap dealer, purchases Universal from the Polikoff family.

Zeid is joined by long time friend Barry Riback to run Universal, along with Riback’s third generation scrap business, Maltz Metal Company.  The two companies merge to handle 2.5 million pounds of non-ferrous materials a year, working in a small 9,000 sq. ft. facility.

1984 – Herb Polikoff invites Philip Zeid to “temporarily” help out at Universal, shortly after co-founder Jerry Jacobs dies.  Later in the year, founding partner Herb Polikoff dies suddenly in a skiing accident and Philip Zeid is asked to step in to run Universal.

1972 – Scrap dealers Herb Polikoff and Jerry Jacobs partner to form Universal Scrap Metals.  Housed on the North Side of Chicago, USM processes non-ferrous scrap metal primarily from and for the Chicago area.


USM’s Historical Poster Gallery

Universal takes pride in the rich history of conservation and the important recycling efforts dating back to World War II. Our collection of government and privately sponsored posters emphasizing scrap collecting for the war effort has grown to over 50 prints and is on display in our corporate offices. Clients who share an interest in the unique posters are welcome to view our collection. View the collection online here.