Ray Wilkinson Iron & Metal, Inc.

Ray Wilkinson“Above the Ground Miners”

Aluminum, every kind of motor, iron, appliances, copper – the list goes on and on for these “above the ground miners.”

“They used to call this type of business a junkyard. My grandfather Sheffield took tires and cow bones,” an enthusiastic Ray Wilkinson, owner, said. “Today, recycling is a big part of everybody’s life, trying to keep the environment clean. We recycle, make new things, and clean up the area.”

Sheffield started the business in Laredo 80 years ago. Next, Ray’s father, Westbrook Chula, entered the family business after serving during WWII. Joining the firm, Ray and his two brothers made it a third-generation company. Starting their own yards – Ray in McAllen, Gary in Laredo and Jim in Brownsville – the brothers brought their sons into the fourth-generation business. When sons Bradley and Stuart joined the firm, Ray was ecstatic.

Ray’s yard began in 1987.

“It’s time for you to get your own yard.” Westbrook Chula gently nudged his son out on his own.

“I went to every chamber from Brownsville to Rio Grande City,” Ray told his story. “I fell in love with McAllen. They were more professional. They did things right and this was where I wanted to live.”

“Wife Rosie was a big part of the business then. She was the president of the Chamber Ambassadors, leading them for about five or six years. I was known as “Rosie’s husband” for a while,” he laughed contentedly.

With 15 employees, the company moves tons of metal weekly.

“We separate metals for the mills, making bales of 1,000 to 3,000 pounds to send. I buy 40,000 pounds [32 cans make a pound] of aluminum cans a week from the upper Valley and I’m not the only one who buys them!”

Ray believes his success is because of his father’s motto, an easy task for this people lover.

“Make a person walk out smiling!”

“I love this business! It’s in our blood,” he looked back to his screen full of various camera shots of the yard.

“We all work as a team. That’s what matters,” said Manager, AC. “Everyone comes in happy. Everyone leaves happy.”