Mark Wildhagen’s evolution from junkyard operator to recycler is complete now that he’s sold his scrap business
Mark “Mopey” Wildhagen can sum up his career in a single sentence: “I just became politically correct.”
Explaining the evolution of his 42 years in business, Wildhagen said, “I started out as a junkman, became a scrap dealer and now I am a recycler.”
Wildhagen kept a hand in the junk part of that business until Nov. 9, when he sold Port Recycling to Jorge Chavez. The business, located at 728 Schmitz Dr. in Port Washington, has been renamed Ozaukee Iron and Metal.
Wildhagen, who characterized himself as “a very young 67,” quickly dismisses the suggestion that the sale means he is ready for a rocking chair.
“I have been spending about 80% of my time running Step One Environmental and that isn’t changing,” he said of the chemical reclamation business he launched in 1983.
“What the sale does mean is I will finally have my Saturday mornings free. Let that be fair warning to my golfing buddies.”
Wildhagen graduated from Port Washington High School in 1967. He actually got his first taste of the junk business thanks to his late father, John “Jeep” Wildhagen.
“Dad ran a junk yard on the south side of Milwaukee, and I started helping there in 1974 with my buddy Terry Cottrell from Saukville,” Wildhagen recalled.
“With a considerable push from my dad, we decided to start a scrap business in Ozaukee County. We called it Sunshine Salvage, which eventually became Port Recycling.”
That partnership lasted about a year, until Cottrell chose to go back to working as a roofer.