“Sam Proler came from a distinguished family of recyclers. He was passionate about recycling, the environment, and his family,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “He made countless contributions that had significant impacts on the recycling industry. Early on in his career, he helped change the image of the industry by eliminating the word ‘junk’ from the name of the family business. However, Sam Proler, along with his brothers, will always be remembered for developing the automobile shredder which forever reshaped our industry. Whenever anyone sets foot in a scrapyard, they just have to take a quick look around to see the Proler legacy. ISRI is honored to present Sam Proler with the Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Sam was born into a recycling family. His family owned The City Junk Company in Houston. Growing up, he learned the business from his father while riding along on a horse-drawn junk wagon after school and on the weekends. During the Great Depression Sam was forced to quit school after the 8th grade and begin working in the family business. Within four years, he was running the company. At the age of 18, he recognized that scrap was not junk, and changed the company’s name to Proler Steel to better reflect the value of scrap. Over the next four decades, Sam and his brothers Izzie, Hymie, and Jackie, built Proler Steel into a publicly traded, international company. Proler retired from Proler Steel Corp in 1969, however he continued his involvement with the industry offering new ideas. Proler passed away in February 2018 at the age of 101.
It was in 1956, that Proler brothers together developed an idea that would forever change the recycling industry … The Prolerizer. This groundbreaking machine was capable of recycling whole automobiles, a process that increased efficiency and quality in recycling. The Prolerizer also had a positive influence on the environment, an issue very close to Proler. During this era, many cars were discarded in fields, woods, and even highways. Proler worked with President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Ladybird on a national beatification project to recycle more cars through the Prolerizer.
The award was presented to Mr. Proler posthumously during ISRI’s annual convention and exposition in Las Vegas.