Illinois Pioneers

Industrial recycling innovator Lou Mervis

7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 19, on WILL-TV
Lou Mervis

Lou Mervis

Lou Mervis, who retired in 2005 as president and CEO of Mervis Industries in Danville, talks about guiding his family's company to become a leader in meeting the manufacturing and recycling needs of various industries. He also reflects on his achievements as a volunteer, from founding the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation to his 17-year service as a member of the Illinois State Board of Education.

Mervis' grandfather, William, was an itinerant peddler in Illinois and Indiana. He'd pick up things that people didn't want and resell them to someone else. He was essentially a recycler, although people didn't call it that back then. "Recycling is not new. This is just a fancy name for the junk business as old timers knew," Mervis said.

His father, Isadore, built the business, and two Mervis' sons now work in the business, which has in recent years bought a number of scrap yards as sons and daughters of owners decide not to go into the scrap business, he said. In addition to recycling industrial metals, the company has developed ways to recycle industrial plastic, pelletizing it and sometimes returning it to the same company.

Watch the full episode: