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Back in the mid to late 70’s, Scott Lowell was your average college student. One of the classes he was taking at the time was Statistics 101. On his way to this particular class, he would pass a room designated for computers only. In those days, the computer industry was just entering its humble beginnings and in order to communicate to computers, one would feed them punch-tab cards to deliver information. This process has since been modernized to what we now refer to as hard-drives on present day computers.

Scott noticed that the used key punch cards were being saved and placed back into the original boxes they came in. He got to talking with someone in the room who explained that a service comes in, buys the punch cards back and takes them away. He further learned that paper mills use the old key punch cards by recycling them into other paper products. He also found out that there were companies in the Chicago area that were also interested in buying them back. Scott discovered the name of such a company, called them up and asked them to explain the process. He was told that they would pay roughly .10 cents per pound or $200 per ton for the tab cards, but that he would have to find a way to bring the cards to their plant. Scott still jokes about the first pick up he ever made, saying that he loaded 10 cases of computer tab cards in the trunk of his old car.

Scott soon realized that this could be a very good business prospect. He noticed that every Sunday when he opened up the job section of the paper, he would see between 300 and 400 want ads seeking computer analysts. Either the ads would say “Data Processing Managers” or “Computer Analysts” Wanted. Who better to have used computer cards than the companies searching for employees for their computers? Scott wanted to capitalize on the opportunity, but first he needed to do four things: develop a name for his company, open a checking account, get a truck to pick up the scrap computer cards, and hire an answering service to field his phone calls. He figured with all the want ads in the Sunday Papers, the opportunities were endless.

Perhaps Scott’s biggest business feat to this day was obtaining the financing needed to purchase his first step van for pick-ups. Scott persuaded his grandmother to loan him $1,000 – which he paid back at $50 a month. At that time, Scott’s mother, had a small dress shop located on Devon Avenue in Chicago. It was called “Marcells Custom Tailoring”. Scott explains that his mother always answered the phone the same way, “Marcells”. Marcells was the only word she ever said. Not “Marcells Custom tailoring”, just “Marcells”. His mom said that she could take all of his phone calls and it would sound professional enough that nobody would ever know that he didn’t have the means to afford an office. So therein the name “ Marcells Paper” was adopted. Scott also jokes that he used his caddie money from the golf course to open up his first checking account. Bingo! All four things were now completed. Now Scott was a viable one-truck operation and was calling on all sorts of institutions from his stack of newspaper want ads, in search of used computer cards. He offered them .7 cents per round or $140 per ton to buy them back.

On off school days, holidays and such, Scott’s 12-year younger brother Jeff got involved, helping him out on the truck. Scott’s mother continued to answer his phone calls at her dress shop. Scott had business cards made up with the address and phone number of the dress shop. So when his mother answered the phones by saying “Marcells”, whether the caller was a customer of the dress shop or Scott’s recycling company, they had come to the right place!





Marcells Paper return address


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