A. Lakin & Sons
If you’re a Chicago native you’re most likely familiar with the industrial corridor that’s bisected by Cortland Street. You’ve either driven down it and honked at someone trying to get a glimpse of the foundry operation that is Finkl, or you’re the one that is coasting and being honked at. The businesses on and around this street on gritty, old, and perfect. Old brick buildings right next to corrugated steel siding and filled with people that work hard. We’re neighbors to all these businesses, one of which is Lakin and Sons.
Lakin has been around since 1919 and Ken Lakin runs his family’s business of tire recycling. I first met Ken because he’s a leather fan, and he offered me a tour of his facility – I was very interested, and even more so after he told me they run some equipment originally designed for the leather industry. The business itself seems relatively simple (though that is rarely reality) – turn tires into rubber sheets and then punch shapes out of them for reuse in other applications. The parts are used in everything from shock absorption, to snow blowers, to conveyors. Even better, all the scrap is ground up and then sold to power plants that burn the garbage to make electricity. Rubber is extremely energy dense and a good fuel when burned and combined with good air scrubbing technology.