TUMWATER – To many, he was known simply as Jim Chapman, but to others he was “Jimmy Junk,” the longtime owner of J&J Metals, a metal recycling and salvage yard he ran for 25 years near Henderson Boulevard.
Chapman died in February at 63, and his younger son, Colin, now is in charge of cleaning up the property and making a decision about the future of the business. All options are on the table, Colin said from San Francisco last week. That includes selling the land or selling the business, selling both or starting up the business again, he said.
J&J Metals, at 912 73rd Ave. S.E., closed after Chapman died. Since, family friend Therin Laney has been hired to clean up the property, and Laney hired Jim Campbell of Yelm to help him separate metal, wood, tires and other materials into piles for recycling. An estimated 10 tons of wood and about 1 million pounds of scrap metal are thought to be on the J&J Metals site, Campbell said.
Also left behind on the 9-acre site is a collection of nearly every household item and piece of industrial machinery one could find. The property is home to hubcaps, farm equipment, bicycles, filing cabinets, lawn mowers, car bumpers, light fixtures, bed frames and electric fans.
“It’s a mountain of stuff,” Laney said.
Jim Chapman, a Moses Lake native and decorated Vietnam veteran, bought the existing recycling business in 1984 as a way to indulge his entrepreneurial spirit, Colin said. Before that, he had worked for the electronics manufacturer Tektronix in the Portland area and began to notice the demand for scrap metal.
“It may not have been fully operational when my Dad found it,” Colin said about the business his father bought, but he built it into a “functioning, healthy business.” Among his customers were the Olympia Brewery, Evergreen students and metal sculptors, he said.
Arlene Welter of Lacey remembers Jim when he stopped at The Point Tavern for a beer after work. Welter, who worked at the tavern for 23 years, said he was an honest man who was well-liked.
“He had parts for everything,” she said.
Car enthusiast Rich Lalicker of Olympia calls J&J Metals addicting, a placed filled with old stuff and “Americana.” Last week, Lalicker bought piles of old car parts, filling up his truck with car bumpers from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, he said.
The county will continue to monitor the cleanup, which is expected to take two or three more months, said Gerald Tousley, a solid and hazardous waste supervisor for the county.
In March, the county received a complaint about oil and gasoline being dumped on the site, but that could not be confirmed during an investigation, Tousley said. Colin Chapman has been cooperative, and a contamination check is planned, he said.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403