Spencer Blue named to “Forty under 40”
by Phyllis Shaikun
Special to Community
Spencer Blue, the 34-year-old president and COO of Freedom Metals, believes in the adage “those to whom much has been given, much is expected,” and tries to live his life with that philosophy in mind. Business First honored Blue’s accomplishments with “Forty Under 40” recognition at a dinner held on September 24.
“Work is important,” he declares, “but family is even more important.” The father of four knows it would be hard to do what he is doing in Louisville in New York and is grateful to Louisville for the opportunities he has now. He figures he works more than 65 hours per week, but balances that with family time spent with his wife, Micah, and their children, working out and giving back to the community when his schedule permits.
Blue joined his father Bruce Blue’s business, Freedom Metals, in March 2005 after having worked in credit derivatives in Greenwich, CT, and New York City for four years prior to his return to Kentucky. No stranger to the scrap metal business, the younger Blue worked every summer in the business during high school and college and notes his childhood ambition was to be a “scrapper.”
“My dad worked very hard to keep the company alive and gave his blood, sweat and tears to build Freedom Metals. He was tired and looked to me to bring in fresh ideas and energy, which helped get us where we are today,” Blue said. “I hope to be able to pass that torch on to my own children should they choose to work in the business when they are older.”
When he first joined the company, Blue worked in the cashier’s office, filed reports and performed all types of manual labor in the yard for six months to learn the business from the bottom up. His previous work experience and degree in finance and international business from The George Washington University came in handy when it was time to “computerize” Freedom Metals.
“I kind of pushed us into the technological age when I first came,” he recalls. “We developed spreadsheets, put in an automated cash counter, upgraded to swipe cards for employees to clock-in and created data bases.” He notes there were many big changes instituted that resulted in both successes and failures, but he is grateful his father trusted him to make decisions and learn from his mistakes.
“I don’t feel that I’m anyone special,” he says modestly, “it’s just the position I have found myself in. I never take my good fortune for granted and work very hard. Metal is a volatile commodity industry and it takes a lot of energy to keep up. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to succeed personally and to benefit Louisville’s business community in a positive way.
“My dad built the business and is a great sounding board,” Blue says, “so I should be listening to his advice. He encourages me to network and take opportunities to meet others, help the community and help the business as well. I think all that makes me a better person, a better businessman and a better family person. It also gives me the chance to meet special people in the community and to work to assist those in need.”
Freedom Metals has grown exponentially in the eight-and-one-half years since he joined the company. “It’s awesome for me,” he says, “to know we have developed so many jobs and generated businesses along the way. We started a business in Elizabethtown, another in Winchester and later established Blue Alloys in La Grange.”
Since 2005, sales have increased over 1,000 percent; the employee count went from 30 to over 180; the business has been recognized as a Business First Fast 50 company for the past seven years and has been an INC. 5000 award winner for the last five years. Blue is directly responsible for 70 percent of all sales each month. He also was instrumental in creating a leadership team for the company last year.
Blue is a graduate of Greater Louisville Inc.’s (GLI) Ignite Louisville and Focus Louisville programs, has served on the board of ISRI (Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries) and is currently a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization), Leadership Louisville and LEAD GLI (Leadership, Engagement, Action, Development), a network of leaders committed to supporting GLI strategic initiatives. He spends about eight hours per month working on volunteer projects such as coaching his four-year-old son, Sebastian’s, YMCA soccer and T-ball teams and really enjoys seeing how much the players improve during the season.
Much of his time is spent with his other children as well, 13-year-old Alexis, and Carmela and Ivy (ages two-and-one-half and one-year old respectively), and he lists family and children as his number one passion in life. CrossFit and playing golf round out his top three.
The Blues are members of Congregation Adath Jeshurun. Spencer and Micah have taken Melton classes and a crash Hebrew course and he has been involved with AJ’s Sushi in the Sukkah program. Their younger children are enrolled in The Temple’s preschool program and will be furthering their Jewish education in the coming years.