J.L. PROLER IRON AND STEEL COMPANY is an area pioneer in both scrap iron and the shaving reclamation industry. The Company has been family owned and operated since its inception. At one time or another, all of the members of the Proler family have been involved in the business, and it is not unusual today to see second, third, and fourth generation members of Company employees working and contributing to our success.
The Company was established in the 1920’s by Jack Lewis Proler. In its infancy, the primary business of the company was the buying of agricultural scrap metals. There was no physical plant, so the collected metals were usually sold to other scrap metal yards. This type of activity was generally termed “peddler trading.”
In time, Mr. Proler gradually acquired industrial machine shop accounts that produced a higher quality grade of scrap metal. Shavings or lathe turnings were also a byproduct of machine shops. These shavings were a relatively low value commodity. Many of the machine shops would simply bury the shavings. Mr. Proler purchased their scrap shavings to be able to also buy the more coveted scrap iron. Thus, J.L. Proler Iron & Steel Company was in the shaving business. During those early years, the Company employed a truck driver and a helper to manually load the material onto a truck. Unlike our vehicles of today, the trucks were not equipped with winches.
The advent of World War II changed things. It was in 1942 that Jack Proler bought the first parcel of land for his operation. The city of Houston had virtually no real steel-making capacity at that time, but it was also in 1942 that Sheffield Steel opened its doors. Area scrap dealers united, and in a show of patriotism, donated a carload of scrap to the mill. Because of the war effort, the government established ceilings on commodity pricing, but this also made the cheaper shavings now have a price level that would support selling this material to the mill. Jack Proler seized the opportunity, even going to machine shops to ask where they had buried the discarded shavings, and then extricating them from the ground and selling them.
Today, the scope of our business has widened greatly, expanding to the fields of non-ferrous metals, salvage steel and brokerage. Yet our “bread and butter” activity remains the handling of steel scrap iron and shavings from industrial businesses. The Company maintains a large fleet of trucks to service our accounts. The scrap is processed and prepared in our plant, then shipped to steel mills to be used in the production of new steel.
We are proud of our role in and our contributions to Houston’s business community and to the city itself, and we are dedicated to ensuring that J.L. Proler Iron & Steel Company continues to be one of the leaders in our industry.