Starting a recycling revolution
There’s an expression that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. For Jon Wybar, it’s been a gritty truth for the past 14 years. Watching tons of construction waste headed for the landfill would bring a sigh of relief from contractors anxious to get their jobsites cleaned up, but for him it sparked an environmentally-friendly business idea.
Jon’s company – Revolution Recovery – was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after providing his own common-sense answer to a simple question: What if one of the most common building materials was kept out of sanitary landfills and converted into cash?
From bootstrap beginnings that evolved from bare-handed sorting in 2004 to compact equipment in 2006, to heavy equipment by 2011, the recycling venture expanded with additional locations in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and New Castle, Delaware. The enterprise recycles a wide assortment of construction and renovation debris with a staff of more than 100 employees and a fleet of 26 Doosan® wheel loaders and crawler excavators. The company continues to thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace with versatile machine investments.
“We want to lead in recycling,” Jon says. “We see major problems for the planet, and we want to be on the cutting edge solving this problem. I would like to think we grew based on survival of the fittest, hard work and business savvy.”
Tackling diverse materials
Over the years, Revolution Recovery has gradually mechanized its operation. Jon and New Castle Plant Manager Nick Grovola discovered that strong and durable equipment would allow for expanded core capabilities to handle construction waste materials in a challenging environment.
“It’s not the heaviest material like you would find in mines, but it’s still abrasive,” Nick says. “There are lots of tight turns and hazards.”
To accommodate the variety and volume of material, both the Philadelphia and New Castle locations rely on four Doosan wheel loaders and five Doosan crawler excavators – each equipped with grapple attachments and buckets – working up to 10 hours a day. The excavators are responsible for extracting bulky objects such as plastic sheets and tarps, loading trailers, pre-sorting, and crushing larger material to fit on the sorting screen.
“They’re crunching, munching and smashing,” Nick says.
Diverting waste from sanitary landfills is more than a noble environmental cause; it’s a profitable mission statement for the company that handles more than 1,000 tons of material daily.
“At a vast majority of American construction sites, all of that material goes right to the landfill,” Jon says.
With the company’s unique focus, roughly 50 percent of the material is recycled, 25 percent is screenings or fines, and 25 percent goes to a sanitary landfill.
Waste not, want not
Revolution Recovery’s interactive aspect to their business model provides maximum recycling and repurposing of materials that can include wood, pallets, drywall cutoffs, metals, concrete, brick, asphalt, cardboard and plastic. Customers can rent roll-off containers from the company that, once filled, Revolution Recovery delivers to the recycling site for sorting and recycling processes.
Jon points out that planning for machine versatility is key when processing diverse resources.
“The machines are pretty powerful, and we’re able to load and dig if we need to,” Jon says. “I actually just rented a hydraulic breaker attachment for one of the excavators to break concrete.”
Key machine features provide comfort and convenience to the company’s operators.
“The air conditioning is nice, and the new ones have a very nice display screen for your gauges and backup cameras,” Nick says.
Operators use the company’s wheel loaders to transport material; feed the fine screens; and load wood chips, crushed concrete and material to be baled.
“Most of the materials we can bale – like the cardboard, the plastic, the vinyl – and we can sell them,” says Nick, who oversees the day-to-day operations. “The non-ferrous metals we actually grade on site, and a lot of those get baled as well. We crush the concrete and then sell the material.”
Shingles also get crushed and sold. Wood gets turned into mulch or a bedding product. The drywall segments are transformed into soil amendment.
Finding the sweet spot
Recycling construction materials in an operation that transitioned from human to machine not long ago means selecting equipment that offers high performance in a smaller footprint and a dealership team to help with maintenance. Jon and Nick purchased the Doosan wheel loaders and excavators from their local heavy equipment dealer, Best Line Equipment. Their first purchase of a DL200 in 2008 and the dealership support that came with it, starting with Sales Specialist Armand Cencetti, started to chip away at the company owner’s preference for a competitive excavator.
“We decided to give Best Line Equipment a shot,” Jon says. “And that’s how they won the first bid, but then their performance from that loader is how they won the second loader – not in a sales meeting, but in the performance of the machine.”
Jon has found that the combination of 18-ton DX180LC-3 excavators and the 271-horsepower DL300-5 wheel loaders form a sweet spot for power, size and cost of ownership. Nick agrees.
“A lot of our material is indoors, so we can’t have an overly huge machine because of height restrictions, but the DX180LC-3 excavators seem like they’re pretty strong compared across the market to other equipment manufacturers,” Nick says.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve needed bigger equipment. The DL300 is a good size for us, because it’s big enough to handle our material, but not so big that it can’t functionally move around.”
Jon and Nick have a hands-on approach to daily maintenance backed up with dealership support.
“The operators do the daily greasing, and our mechanics on site will do the services and small repair, like hose replacements and filters,” Nick says. “But for bigger repairs, Best Line Equipment does all of that for us.”
Revolution Recovery’s uptime is further sustained with a solid warranty team.
“Downtime with equipment can be extremely detrimental to the whole operation, and frustrating and stressful to the team,” Jon says. “We know that Best Line Equipment and Doosan will stand behind their machines and their warranty. And we know that they’ll bring the service to keep us moving and get the job done.”