Turning Opportunities into Success
Baltimore Recycling Center
Based in Maryland’s capital city, Baltimore Recycling Center LLC (BRC) deals with disposing and recycling debris produced by the construction and demolition (C&D) industry in Baltimore County and surrounding areas. The company’s main location is a twelve-acre recycling and transfer operation at Edison Highway in Baltimore County. A second four-acre location, from which it operates its transportation division and main clerical office, will soon be nearby after a scheduled move.
BRC owner and founder Jack Haden is celebrating forty years in and around the waste management industry this year. In 1979, he founded J&J Trash Removal for residential trash hauling in Baltimore County. J&J evolved into a front-end and rollout business, while he also built and sold several other companies.
He purchased the facility for what would become BRC in 2008. It was already in operation as a recycling and transfer station, but one that he describes as being “small and unsophisticated,” and “in need of significant improvements.”
Haden sold his company Rolloff Express in 2011, which allowed him to focus on building BRC to make it viable and profitable. Due to a non-compete clause in the hauling industry, after selling Rolloff Express, he had to focus on building up the plant and its upgrading equipment, investing over four million dollars in improvements for the site.
It now offers a range of services through three divisions. First, a transfer and recycling facility sorts, separates, recycles, and disposes of material. Then, a concrete crushing plant, adjacent to the first facility, takes loads from construction sites and crushes them to make recycled concrete materials that go back to construction sites. Finally, a transportation division provides containers for construction and demolition jobs. These haul debris from recycling operations to landfills or finished products to designated markets.
During this time, many local landfills disbanded their own lead recycling efforts, which resulted in BRC being used for lead recycling much more. A huge burst of activity followed in January 2016 when Haden re-entered the transportation business, and by the end of the first year, revenue for the company was doubled as a result of its small business acquisitions and purchasing twenty roll-off trucks and six tractor-trailers with all-new equipment.
Securing a hauling division has helped the center stand out significantly, and Haden believes that another component of its success is that the business goes beyond what others do, sometimes achieving what they cannot. He says that the center provides monthly reports for customers who desire them and that the improvements made to the facility in the last several years have made it much more convenient and welcoming to customers, who “don’t need to go ten to fifteen miles away to a landfill,” anymore.
The company’s hauling division caters to the on-call, open-top, roll-off business. In Baltimore today, there are not many bigger private companies that serve the construction and demolition market. Haden says that there are customers with the hauling division that do million-dollar business annually with the company and receive round-the-clock service from his employees. “BRC specializes in personalized, on-call business,” he notes. “Not many other companies do that on the scale that BRC does.”
The state of Maryland has a recycling mandate of twenty-five percent, and all counties must report their recycling averages to the, so the company will cooperate with the counties and handle the reporting for them. The center has become “an integral part of Baltimore city and county’s solid waste management,” as it handles over 150,000 tons of recycling a year with an average of 500 tons a day, making it “an important player for waste in the city.” Its efforts have earned many awards, and several local counties have recognized its recycling work.
BRC is a member of many associations within the construction and demolition community, including the National Demolition Association, which aids in research and development and lobbies on behalf of the industry. He says that the associations the company deals with help the center to stay up-to-date on industry goings-on nationwide.
Haden says that, when it comes to the running of the company, there are two significant and ongoing challenges with which it must deal. The first has to do with regulations, as several permits and agencies are constantly increasing and changing rules, which, in turn, affects how the facility is run and what equipment is being used. For example, a new regulation was added five years ago decreeing that businesses, within Baltimore city limits, that had sites over five acres were to reduce stormwater run-off by twenty percent, leading to BRC having to spend money and time to add impervious areas to capture water.
The company has “experience and talent and size, and in this day and age, it’ll take more than that,” to take advantage of the current market scope. He says that more large companies are taking over smaller operators due to difficulties like these regulations but simply do not give the personal service that independent companies like BRC can provide.
The second issue has to do with the collapse of recycling markets. The company does not deal with traditional single-stream markets like residential recycling projects, so the company is greatly affected by the failure on such areas as the metal market. Metal recycling has gone from yielding $300 per ton of metal to $100 per ton, meaning a loss in revenue. However, a silver lining in this is that job sites, and contractors are not as eager to recycle metals because of the perceived lack of worth, meaning that BRC can take advantage of a gap in the market.
Additional difficulties, he says, are that the company is physically stymied on the hauling side of the business because of the size of the transportation site, and the trucking industry is facing challenges of workforce demand and greater regulations. Nevertheless, its independent status and unique approach to hauling will allow it to do more business in the sector.
The Baltimore Recycling Center has made great strides since its official inception this decade, and it certainly has no plans of stopping soon. “Now that we have significantly improved all of our site infrastructure, we are designing now an entire new recycling line in the facility,” Jack Haden states.
Part of this new line will be upgrading dated equipment, such as adding a B-line to its existing A-line front-end shredder to mechanically separate smaller materials. This upgrade is major and will likely cost upwards of two million dollars.
BRC has also purchased a new property, which is under renovations with a move-in date set for May 2019. This new location will allow for greater efficiency so the company can buy more trucks and expand. A tremendous amount of opportunity lies in the future of the Baltimore Recycling Center, and the company is determined to use this to its full advantage very soon.