When Collins Metal was paying $12 per 100 pounds, customers were lined up a long way in both directions on business 74 in the eastern edge of Forest City.
"We were paying between 35 and 40 thousand (dollars) per day and every dime of it was going right back into this community," Barry Collins said of a business that has benefited the local economy for over 90 years.
Today prices for scrap metal are about half what they were a few years ago, but business is steady. A recent "light" day saw 67 loads come into the local yard plus containers from industrial sites that collect metal from as far away as Charlotte and Anderson, S.C.
71-year-old Barry Collins says he plans to continue working at the yard, "for as long as the Lord lets me. I can't see sitting down."
It's also a local source of entertainment for children.
"Sometimes I'll see five or six kids on the hoods of their mama's cars, on that upper parking lot, not anywhere near (to the operation,)" Collins said of the children who come to watch cars get crushed.
The company processes millions of pounds of steel, aluminum and other metals per month.
"And what we pay for metal all goes right back into local grocery stores and other businesses. And we pay it straight. If somebody brings in ten pounds, we pay for ten pounds. We want to keep it all straight," he said.
Founded by his father, Benjamin Franklin Collins Sr., the company employs seven people, including Collins and his son, Ben, and pays "thousands of dollars" in local property taxes.
The elder Collins also sold spare parts and cars and trucks.
"A lot of people tell me they bought their first car or first pickup from my daddy," he said.
The yard includes the big trucks that haul containers in from industrial sites and beautiful piles of scrap that run the spectrum from giant motors and gears to the aluminum cans that are baled for shipment to recycling plants.
Ninety percent of all aluminum cans on the market today are made from recycled aluminum cans.
Collins laughed when asked how long he's been at it. "I started when I was 14 years old after school," said the youngest of the Collins brothers who has worked on the yard. "I've been right here for 57 years." Two of his brothers, Allen and Benjamin Jr., also worked on the yard.
Barry said he worked for Howard Harrill decorating for six months, but otherwise he has been at Collins Metal. He said his son, Ben, could run it without him but for now he's happy that the Lord lets him keep it up.
"My preacher told us one Sunday morning that the Lord starts constructing your life the day you are born and that construction keeps right on up until the end," Collins said of the Rev. Garin Hill at Forest City's First Baptist.
One local sage reflected on Collins's enthusiasm for the work that sometimes goes on dawn til dusk. "Why wouldn't he love it? He gets to crush cars for a living."