Adam Weitsman, entrepreneur and owner of Owego-N.Y.-based Upstate Shredding, is deep in the “metaverse,” the virtual 3D world that is interactive, immersive, and collaborative. In November he became a cryptocurrency miner. “I saw [crypto mining] as a 22nd century continuation of the scrap business,” he explains. “As time goes on, I want to keep the scrap business relevant. It’s still not a very high-tech industry, so I wanted to diversify into something different.”
Next to his yard in Owego, Weitsman and partners set up 1,500 computers in a 170,000-square-foot building formerly used by circuit board manufacturer Asteelflash. The computers work around the clock to generate digital currencies—Bitcoin, Litecoin, Kadena, and Nervos—that are exchanged independently of banks or governments.
Housed in pods that can hold about 250 stacked computers each, the equipment can be easily placed on trucks and moved in case of a disaster such as a flood or a long-term power outage, Weitsman says. He is buying 100% renewable energy for the five-person operation, which now uses 10 megawatts of power every hour—about the same as 10,000 homes. Weitsman is installing solar panels at his recycling facilities and on the ground to address environmental concerns and reduce power costs.
“It’s a very tough business because it’s speculative,” he notes. “There will be a lot of regulations and rules coming down the pipeline. In the end we’ll have about $100 million in this, so it’s a pretty big investment.”
Plans call for the crypto mine to ramp up to 2,500 computers, then 15,000—all churning constantly to solve complex mathematical and computational problems to secure and verify cryptocurrency ledgers housed in blockchain ledgers. It’s essentially being paid in cryptocurrency for auditing the books. Crypto mining doesn’t use a lot of data, but it requires massive processing power.
The big computer operation is not the only new venture for Weitsman. He, marketing agency executive Jeff Knauss, and author and public speaker Arel Moodie just launched the upstate New York business networking and social club Profound. They received 110 applications by the end of the first day for 100 available memberships. Dues range from $16,200 to $54,000 a year for admission to regularly scheduled events, including member-only invitations to golf tournaments, poker nights, and small dinners.
“My success has enabled me to meet a lot of influential people,” Weitsman says. “This is another way to help people get over their fears of failure and meet people who will help them take their careers to the next level. Networking is just so important.” He says recyclers are among those who have applied to join the club.
Weitsman is not involved in Profound’s membership selection process. He plans to donate his share of any profits from the business to Boys and Girls Clubs in Owego, Binghamton, and Syracuse, N.Y. Weitsman, a resident of Skaneateles, N.Y., is partners in restaurant projects there including Clover’s Café, named after his daughter whose favorite restaurant was until recently located in the building.
To get a sense of Weitsman’s networking ability, you have only to look at his Instagram account. Recently using Adam Weitsman’s phone, former President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump said hello to Clover Weitsman from their jet. Running a company with 16 locations stretching west from Albany. N.Y., to the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, Weitsman has been named an Instagram influencer, and is doling out $1 million in charities in upstate New York, keeping a promise he made in August when Boeheim’s Army (a basketball team named after legendary Syracuse University men’s Coach Jim Boeheim) won The Basketball Tournament, an annual winner-take-all, single-elimination contest.
As many as 200 charities in the 315 and 607 area codes are benefiting from the Boeheim’s Army win, and Weitsman encourages other recyclers to get involved in their communities. “Look at your churches, your synagogues, the schools: $1,000 could really make a difference. Or a food pantry that needs a new refrigerator, or a food kitchen where the stove is about to go on the fritz. There’s a lot of ways companies can make a difference where it’s not a huge amount of money but, you play a part in your community,” he says.
Upstate Shredding is investing in a $12 million to $15 million upgrade of its 17-acre Owego shredder facility to meet Environmental Protection Agency rules for emissions of volatile organic compounds. The company brought in 250 semi-tractor trailers to meet its goal of zero inventories at yards. “We’ve invested in the past year and a half something like $25 million into trucking,” Weitsman says. “You know, I never wanted to be in the trucking business, but it’s a necessary evil [because of] what the transportation situation is like out there.”
The company is hiring, but Weitsman says the labor shortage that affects all recyclers is still an issue. “We’re running lean, not necessarily by choice, but we’re succeeding,” he says. He’s looking for similar success in the new crypto mining venture. “I want to really diversify,” he says. [The recycling industry] is cyclical; that’s the nature of this business. People are really looking at things like the metaverse, this virtual world.”
Featured image courtesy of Upstate Shredding. Caption: Adam Weitsman at his Owego, N.N., yard. Body images 1 and 2 both courtesy of Adam Weitsman. Body image 1 caption: This building will shelter the computers in a crypto mine owned by Adam Weitsman. Body image 2 caption: “Been waiting for this day for a long time,” Weitsman posted on LinkedIn when his crypto mine started operations in November.