Productive Equipment Helps Recycler Thrive

Story by Mike Larson, Editor | September 28, 2010

Reliable Recycling, Oneida (Green Bay), WI, is a metal recycler serving northeastern Wisconsin and central Upper Michigan.

In addition to its headquarters recycling operation in Oneida, just west of Green Bay, the company has a branch in Gladstone, MI, and a brand new facility in Marinette, WI, just opened in January.

Together, the three locations recycle iron, steel, stainless steel, brass, bronze, copper, aluminum, and lead from the general public, commercial, industrial, marine, and construction/demolition customers.

Its service area runs from Lake Michigan on the east to central Wisconsin in the west, and from Sheboygan in the south to the northern shore of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

All of the scrap that comes into Reliable Recycling is sorted to separate the various types of metal in the load.

After sorting, metal that can be reused as-is is sent directly to foundries to be melted and made into new products.

Metal that needs to be processed further in order to be useful as raw material in a foundry is sent to companies that specialize in more extensive processing.

Material-Handling Equipment Key

Material-handling equipment plays a key role in all three of Reliable's locations.

Manager of the new Marinette yard, Robert Goddard, says, "The heart of our work is sorting and moving recyclable metal. To do that efficiently we rely on big, purpose-built material-handling cranes, supported by wheel loaders and skid-steer loaders."

The material-handling cranes are used to load and unload trucks, and to sort metal.

The wheel loaders are equipped with forks to handle larger pieces like crushed automobiles, or with buckets to push piles of scrap or handle smaller parts like turnings from metalworking plants.

And skid-steer loaders equipped with grapple buckets handle small materials like aluminum cans.

The company's material-handling system also includes scrap-collection boxes and the trucks to handle them, as well as tractor-trailer rigs that carry the sorted metal off to foundries or other processors.

Business Grew From One Truck

Mark Wilson and his wife Robin founded Reliable Recycling in 1995 as a scrap-hauling company with just one truck.

Over the past 14 years, the company has grown into a thriving business with a fleet of equipment that includes 13 trucks, 500 rolloff and lugger boxes, 10 large material-handling cranes, and eight wheel loaders of various kinds.

Says President Mark Wilson, "When I was growing up, I worked in the recycling yard where my dad worked. After graduating from college, I became marketing manager for another recycling company. So I understood the business. After some thought, Robin and I decided we wanted to run our own operation. We started with one truck, in which I hauled scrap for recycling companies," he says.

Switch To Specialized Equipment Boosts Productivity

Before long, the young company invested in a small, towable loader crane to handle scrap, then moved up to a ditch machine with about 20 feet of reach.

While serviceable, neither of those machines provided the productivity the company needed, says Wilson.

As the business grew, Reliable began purchasing purpose-built material-handling cranes and has never looked back.

Says Wilson, "Purpose-built material handling cranes designed specifically for this kind of work are vital to maximum productivity. They have the reach, capacity, speed and control to let a skilled operator load, unload and sort quickly and safely."

Another feature that Wilson says Reliable orders on all of its material-handling cranes is a cab that is comfortable, quiet, and can be raised to a height of 20 feet so operators can see down into trucks for loading or unloading.

Says Wilson, "A comfortable cab that can be moved to give the best look at the work area helps an operator work more quickly and stay productive all day."

Reliable also orders all of its material-handling cranes with generator sets and plugs for magnet operation. And most have magnets with a stem so they can be quickly picked up and used without taking the grapple off the crane boom.

Each wheel loader has a quick-attachment system and its own bucket and forks. That lets the operator switch quickly between bucket and forks as work requirements change.

Keeps Fleet New, Turns To Dealers For Maintenance

Nearly all of the wheel loaders, material-handling cranes, and trucks in Reliable's fleet are less than two years old.

Says Wilson, "Keeping fresh iron in the fleet maximizes reliability and keeps us up to date with the newest safety and productivity features. It also helps us attract the best operators. It is also easier on customers' vehicles because the operator can load and unload quickly with precision."

"I believe in hiring the best people and giving them the tools to do their jobs as safely and efficiently as possible," he says.

Other than daily checking and lubricating, Reliable leaves maintenance to the dealers who sold it the equipment. "The dealer maintenance technicians have the tools and training to properly maintain the machine," says Wilson. "And a well-maintained machine is more productive, more reliable and holds higher resale value."

New Yard In Marinette

In January of 2009, Reliable Recycling opened its newest yard. Located on 12 acres along Hwy. 180, the new yard was established to more conveniently serve the substantial number of customers located in the area.

General manager of the Marinette facility, Rob Goddard, said, "We wanted to be more convenient for the many customers who were driving the 120-mile round trip to our Oneida yard, as well as potential customers in the area."

The Marinette yard is nearly all paved in concrete to help keep customers' vehicles cleaner, facilitate handling and sorting of metals, and to control water runoff.

Says Goddard, "The pavement is designed to funnel runoff water to one of three drains, all of which have sediment filters."

The facility also includes a 100-foot by 200-foot main building that houses offices as well as a warehouse for sorting and storing aluminum cans. It is also used to house the material-handling equipment overnight during winter.

Reliable Recycling's philosophy of hiring the best people, equipping them with the tools they need to do the job right, and taking care of customers appears to be working. Wilson reports that the company has grown 100 percent each of the last four years.