Made in Jacksonville: Main Metal Recycling

June 4, 2013 7 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Family owned and operated, Main Metal Recycling Company has been a downtown mainstay for five decades. Earlier this month, Tammy Wainright of Main Metal Recycling invited Metro Jacksonville's Ennis Davis for a tour of their recycling facility and operations.

Main Metal's Conversion

While nature was in the process of reclaiming the nearly 90-year-old foundry, next door Main Metal was busting at the seams.  By the time Reclaiming Jacksonville was released, Main Metal had secured a deal to acquire the foundry and cemented plans to convert the site into a steel recycling yard.

During my January 2013 presentation on the "Future of Urban Development in Jacksonville" for the North Florida Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth, I had to opportunity to meet Main Metal's President Tammy Wainright, who offered me the opportunity to visit the revived foundry site.

Taking her up on her offer, I was given a tour of the site by Main Metal's Tammy Wainright, Linda Watkins, and Micah Thornton.

Where vagrants once slept and fished in flooded loading docks, Main Metal had converted into a fully automated steel recycling yard.  Instead of demolishing the entire site, the machine shop, a portion of the foundry, Hardwick's office building, and the steel fabrication plant were saved.  CEO Jim Pope elected to save as much history as possible.  The portions of the buildings that were demolished, were structurally unfeasible to salvage.  While the purpose of the acquisition was to create a steel recycling yard, Main Metal has invested over two million in cleaning and improving these structures so they will be available for utilization as their operation grows.

Structurally deficient sections of the foundry and pattern shop buildings were demolished to make way for the recycling yard, which features drive-through drop-off lanes.  Here, businesses and individuals deliver material to be recycled.  Entering the yard, the vehicle is weighed and directed to a section of the yard storing the specific material being delivered. Upon leaving the yard, the vehicle is then weighed again and the driver is paid by Main Metal for the amount of material they've delivered for recycling.

The Scrap metals processed at the plant are then shipped to domestic mills and/or exported through the port.

However, all the vestiges of abandonment were not eliminated.  After the foundry closed, its loading docks were inundated with standing water over time.  By the time Main Metal acquired the property, fish were residing in the docks.  Instead of draining the water, Main Metal left it as an attraction for its employees and customers by adding a fountain.  Fed daily by Main Metal's employees, the fish include large mouth bass and brim.


Jacksonville is a city with an exciting and unique history. However, not all of our culturally significant sites are those with grand H.J. Klutho-inspired architectural elements and design.  Many, like Florida Machine & Foundry, are utilitarian in nature with a design focused on making the manufacturing process as efficient and as productive as possible.  Despite their bland vernacular architecture, culturally these are places that have had a significant influence on the neighborhoods surrounding them.

Main Metal's reuse of this site is significant.  Across the nation, most early 20th-century industrial sites become permanent locations of blight and abandonment for nearby aging communities, whose residents they once employed.  Just in our own urban core, we have major sites of industrial abandonment still awaiting a savior such as the Jax Brewing Company, the Shipyards, Ford Assembly Plant, and Farris & Company Slaughterhouse.

However, Main Metal's conversion of this site into a sustainable industrial use, preserves history, creates new jobs for local residents, brings life to what was once an eyesore, adds to the city's tax base, and provides a use that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and keeps Jacksonville's streets clean and landfills low.

Main Metal location map

Main Metal Recycling is located at 1352 West Beaver Street. Learn more about Main Metal and the products they recycle

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at

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