March 2006

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Daniel SchragerEnvironmental Services of Iowa
Doug & Marty Rolfes
Adel, Iowa • 712-580-6649

Brothers Doug and Marty Rolfes are celebrating the fourth year of their ownership of Environmental Services of Iowa, and “you wouldn’t even recognize it,” Doug said. “Today it’s not even the same company, size-wise and what we do.”

Indeed, the company has recently expanded into recycling electronics, including televisions, VCRs, computers and telephones. They’ve increased the number of employees and added more trucks and equipment, including an Aljon 400 mobile baler. “We do some custom baling,” Doug said. They’re also fully permitted and licensed for appliance de-manufacturing.

The expansion into electronics may prompt more business expansion as the brothers consider adding another truck to service the electronics as well as a dedicated facility for that scrap. But that’s still in the future.

In the meantime, their main focus is on landfills, transfer stations and municipalities, as the baler travels through northern Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota, as well as Iowa. Much of the resulting scrap goes to local shredders for further processing.

The brothers weren’t born into the scrap business, and it wasn’t a lifelong burning desire, but “something intrigued me about it,” Doug said when he described buying the business. Then he added, “I’ve personally been a fan of recycling.”

Doug and Marty split the business responsibilities. Doug said, “I do a lot of the new business. I like talking to people, getting new business. It’s always different; it’s not the same old thing every day.” A CPA by trade, Doug also does the accounting and payroll work.

Marty is in charge of the day-to-day operations as well as interaction with current customers. “Our focus has been customer service,” he said. “We don’t leave until the owner is happy.” As relative newcomers in the industry, some new customers are skeptical at first, but, “once they’ve had us in once, they always have us back,” Marty said.

He noted that besides growing the electronics side of the business, they may be looking at non-metallic recyclables, like tires, to better service their existing customers.

Marty’s background is in information systems, but he said, “I always had a bug to own my own business,” although the scrap business may not have been the bug in question. “If somebody would have told me ten years ago that I’d be in the scrap business…,” he said, “you never know what will happen.”

Marty noted that one of the biggest surprises has been dealing with the industry regulations. He expected that it would be the most difficult aspect of the business, “but it hasn’t been the uphill battle we thought it would be,” he said.

“All we want to do is the right thing,” Marty said of the many rules for recycling. “If you can tell us what the right thing is, we don’t have a problem doing it.”

He summed up the company’s philosophy: “We’re family owned and operated – this isn’t a hobby for us, this is how we put food on the table. We treat our customers the way we would want to be treated.”

As far as the future, Marty said, “There seems to be a lot of opportunity in front of us.”



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