Electronics recycler named state's fastest-growing private business [La Crosse Tribune, Wis.]
(La Crosse Tribune (WI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 08--At his workbench in the tech room, Rolly Aponte has a stopwatch running as he unscrews the cover on a desktop computer, yanks the hard drive, strips out an extra memory card and plugs it in to a monitor.
Aponte, the tech manager for Dynamic Recycling in La Crosse, is testing the machine for basic functionality (BIOS in the technical jargon). He's testing himself for speed -- less than 60 seconds per machine.
Nothing goes to waste at Dynamic Recycling. Not even time.
A custom-built server running day and night wipes hard drives clean to Department of Defense standards, ensuring no sensitive data escape. (The company takes security seriously; employees are subject to background checks and soon will have to pass through metal detectors.)
Still-usable machines are stripped of identifying information, tested and repackaged for resale. Some are shipped off to wholesalers, while niche items -- such as gaming systems or vintage audio equipment -- are sold direct to consumer's through Internet sites like eBay.
Often the parts in a used computer are worth more than the whole, said CEO Miles Harter.
"We try and scavenge everything from everything."
Harter, whose family operates Harter's Quick Clean-up, grew up in the waste management industry. He founded Dynamic in 2007 after realizing he could do a better job processing electronics than any of the companies he looked at.
Dynamic has expanded rapidly, outgrowing a succession of locations and becoming the fastest-growing private business in the state last year, according to Inc. magazine, which ranked it second in the nation among environmental service companies.
Reported revenue of $7.1 million in 2011 accounted for better than 3,500 percent growth compared to 2008.
In June, the company launched a second location in Nashville, Tenn., and plan to enter additional markets if successful there. After less than three years, the current 42,000-square-foot facility on Enterprise Drive and another 20,000-square-foot warehouse across the street are bursting at the seams.
Company President Curt Greeno expects they will need to upgrade within the next 18 months.
Dynamic has three divisions -- asset management, end-of-life recycling and scrap -- that allow the company to maximize efficiency and give its customers the best value. Because of its access to markets, Dynamic also buys scrap -- about 16 million pounds per year -- from competitors.
Clients -- from corporations to school districts -- contract with Dynamic to process their old equipment as they upgrade. Dynamic also processes truckloads of consumer electronics picked up from collection points throughout the Midwest.
There's plenty of material out there, Greeno said. "It's getting it out of the garages and closets."
The company looks first for potential re-use, which has less environmental impact than recycling -- and better profit margins. It makes more sense to put a computer processor into another machine than ship it to Asia where smelters extract the precious metals, Harter said.
In the tech room, functional computers are sorted into categories -- from working tested machines that can be resold to those with salvageable parts.
Those at the bottom of the scale go to the end-of-life line, where eight workers tear them apart and sort the contents. Circuit boards -- with their precious metals -- go in one bin, power supplies in another. Unusable hard drives are diverted to a shredder for data security. Aluminum frames and plastic covers are bundled for recycling as well.
Each worker is expected to process 3,500 pounds a day -- the equivalent of about 150 desktop computers.
New laws banning household electronics from landfills and incinerators -- such as Wisconsin's Act 50, which took effect in 2010 -- require manufacturers who sell electronics in Wisconsin to subsidize recycling by contracting with companies like Dynamic to meet their weight quotas.
Those contracts account for about 40 percent of the company's revenue; the rest comes from the commodities themselves. In the 12 months ending in June, Dynamic recycled more than 4.5 million pounds of electronics covered by the E-Cycle program, according to Department of Natural Resources records.
Continuous improvements in technology and an insatiable consumer appetite for the newest gadgets have helped provide a steady stream of material for Dynamic to process.
Greeno said: "It's a throwaway culture."
(c)2013 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.)
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