Dynamic Recycling, the La Crosse, Wis.-based electronics recycling firm founded by Miles Harter, CEO, and Curt Greeno, president, in 2007, has lived up to its name. The company, which employs 48 people at its La Crosse location, has been named the No. 1 company in Wisconsin and the No. 2 environmental services company nationwide by Inc. and 79th fastest growing company overall in the 2012 Inc. 5000, which ranks private companies according to percentage of revenue growth when comparing 2008 to 2011. Dynamic reported 2011 revenue of $7.1 million compared with 2008 revenue of $194,715, or 3,530 percent growth.
Despite the acknowledgement from Inc., Harter says he is most proud of Dynamic Recycling’s culture and its people. “We have really good people and processes,” he says. “We are an upbeat, optimistic organization. We try to create a fun environment and to treat our team members well. Happy people are motivated people.”
Greeno says, “We have a very strong company culture,” adding that taking care of its team members is an area of pride for Dynamic Recycling. “When you have good people, everything takes care of itself.”
In addition to providing a range of benefits from health and dental care to 401(k) plans to paid holidays and vacations, Dynamic Recycling emphasizes team building activities, like monthly company meals, Harter says, as well as continuing education and training, adding that the company invests triple the industry average in this area.
Harter was first exposed to a strong company culture through his family’s trash hauling companies, La Crosse-based Harter’s Quick Clean-Up and Harter’s Fox Valley Disposal, Wittenberg, Wis.
His experience trying to find electronics recyclers to partner with through his family’s businesses is what led Harter to establish Dynamic Recycling.
A Focused Approach
Harter says he began calling electronics recyclers in the mid 2000s to look for processors who could handle the electronics his family’s companies were considering collecting. However, he says, the electronics recyclers he contacted often were unresponsive and their prices were high.
After attending an electronics recycling conference, Harter says he decided to get into the industry himself, adding that he felt he could fill a niche by providing great service at an affordable price while maintaining higher standards for recycling. “We felt a lot of people did one or two of three well but not very many did all three really well,” he says. Harter adds that these areas continue to drive the business.
Dynamic Recycling began by providing end-of-life recycling services for electronics, adding a remarketing division in September 2009, Harter says, and a scrap purchasing division in June 2010.
The company seeks to provide accountable electronics recycling and reuse at an affordable rate through vertical integration, he says, adding that responsive service also is a primary goal. “We chose to do all of the divisions in house so we are able to provide greater accountability for our customers’ material all the while providing them with the best return,” Harter says.
Conservative Yet Aggressive
In 2012, Dynamic Recycling processed 17 million pounds of electronics, focusing on disassembly rather than on shredding, though Greeno says Dynamic may add shredding capacity in the future.
Greeno says he feels some electronics recycling companies jumped into shredding before they should have, as the volume of material they were handling was insufficient to support such an investment. Dynamic Recycling sought to avoid that by investing in people rather than technology.
“We have a conservative yet aggressive approach,” he says of the company’s leadership, adding that the executive team takes its time when making business decisions.
Electronics recycler Dynamic Recycling, La Crosse, Wis., has been certified to the R2 (Responsible Recycling Practices), ISO 14001 environmental management and National Association for Information Destruction’s standards for plant-based computer hard drive sanitization, including on-site and plant-based physical hard drive and nonpaper media destruction.
The culture at Dynamic Recycling is based on continual improvement, President Curt Greeno says, adding that the company seeks out 1 percent improvement daily. Dynamic Recycling’s industry certifications help to ensure that, he says.
Patrick Ferry, a sales executive with Dynamic Recycling, says both the R2 and e-Stewards certifications add value to the industry. “We specifically chose R2 certification because it was independently developed from multiple stakeholders and, after consulting with our top customers, we felt this was the best certification when we chose to move forward with one at that point and time,” he says.
Ferry adds that Dynamic Recycling will seek OHSAS 18001 certification for occupational health and safety in the next 12 months in accordance with R2’s revised standard.
“We are nearly debt free and we are trying to keep it that way,” Greeno says.
Therefore, before adding shredding capacity, the company wants to ensure it has a sufficient volume of electronics coming in to justify the purchase.
Demanufacturing provides additional benefits beyond capital expenditure savings. Patrick Ferry, a sales executive with Dynamic Recycling, says, “We are looking to disassemble everything as far down as possible to create as much value from material that may have negative value coming in. From there, we send it to lead smelters, precious metal smelters, foundries, wire choppers and plastic granulators for further processing.”
The company operates disassembly lines for CRT (cathode ray tube) devices, CRT tube separation and processing, LCD dismantling and processing, computer processing and component harvesting and miscellaneous electronic separation and processing.
Dynamic Recycling’s scrap purchasing division specializes in batteries, high-grade circuit boards, low-grade circuit boards, memory, processors, cell phones, computers, laptops, plastics and wire from electronics, AC adaptors, power supplies, disc drives, copper yokes and other electronic scrap, Harter says.
Ferry says roughly 5 to 10 percent of the material that Dynamic Recycling receives is reused. “We have always supported reuse but have developed better processes through the years to capture more of the product that can be reused,” he adds.
Dynamic Recycling tests, refurbishes and remarkets reusable and excess inventory, which includes whole electronics and components. “Some areas we specialize in are buying memory, processors, hard drives, laptops and cell phones from other electronics recyclers and scrap yards,” Harter says.
The company also refurbishes electronics from large businesses, educational institutions and government agencies.
Data wiping plays a critical role in preparing assets for the reuse market. Dynamic Recycling recently added AAA certification from the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) to its list of industry certifications. (See “Continual Improvement,” page 42.) The company is certified under NAID for plant-based computer hard drive sanitization, including on-site and plant-based physical hard drive and nonpaper media destruction.
Ferry adds, “We purge all hard drives to Department of Defense 5220.22-M with a three-pass wipe or shred them in house and are sure that all electronics and media containing sensitive information that come through our doors are destroyed.”
Most of the company’s clients are comfortable with data sanitization as opposed to the destruction of hard drives containing sensitive data, he adds. “Once clients learn more about our processes, procedures, hardware and software, they become even less concerned,” he says of any trepidation that clients may have regarding data sanitization.
Despite Dynamic Recycling’s growth, Harter says he sees a number of challenges facing the electronics recycling industry, including a lack of reuse standards, export issues and dwindling markets for CRT glass.
Harter says he believes that certifications such as Responsible Recycling Practices (R2), e-Stewards and NAID hard drive destruction and sanitization standards are helping to address some of these issues as well as to level the playing field for electronics recyclers.
While Harter says Dynamic Recycling supports legislation that would help to keep obsolete electronics in the U.S. for processing, he says the company has its concerns with the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act, which was proposed in the last session of Congress and is expected to be reintroduced in the current session. (See the Recycling Today story, “Trash or Treasure,” page 60.)
Primarily, Dynamic is worried that the proposed legislation could restrict trade of nonhazardous recyclable commodities. “We’re in full support of it as long as it doesn’t affect the free trade of scrap metals,” he adds.
Regarding markets, Greeno says conditions in certain areas of the business are difficult. With the slower economy and the government sequester, businesses and government agencies are on slower refresh cycles than prior to the recession.
Dynamic Recycling also is researching options for its leaded and unleaded CRT glass. “Regarding end markets,” Ferry says, “they are continuously evolving, and so are we to meet those challenges. The biggest issue we see facing our industry and our company in the future is certified companies landfilling leaded and unleaded glass with no beneficial reuse in mind.”
In an effort to compete with national firms, Dynamic Recycling recently rolled out a national solution for large corporate clients. Harter says this will give the company a coast-to-coast footprint. Dynamic Recycling also will be adding a location this summer in Nashville, Tenn., to serve clients in the Southeast. Greeno says the new location will include all three divisions its La Crosse location houses, though its growth will be measured. The company will start with six employees in Nashville, with Greeno saying Dynamic expects to have 10 to 20 team members by the second quarter of 2014.
Additionally, Dynamic Recycling continues to diversify its service offerings and its client base, he says.
Harter says he expects Dynamic Recycling to continue to grow by doing what it has traditionally done well. “We will continue to concentrate on the things that have made us successful to this point, such as innovation, service, bettering our people and improving our processes,” he says.
The author is managing editor of Recycling Today and can be contacted via email at email@example.com.