Secure Eco Shred
Steve Kalapos, President
Detroit, Michigan • 248-746-3636
Rainier Wood Recyclers was incorporated
in 1986 and since then has become one of the nation’s
largest wood recyclers, with an estimated production
of 280,000 tons in 2006. And all that with about 40
Their core business is grinding land clearing debris
and clean urban wood waste, which includes pallets,
crates, and construction waste. They also focus heavily
on finding productive uses for the chips.
Tony Bennett, company president, said
that Rainier “knows how to find markets for our
product. For example, last year we started making playground
chips for a company out of Pennsylvania. That’s
one of our more value-added uses.”
The market for the chips varies by
season as well as industry demand, but averages 30 to
45 percent landscape products, 30 to 45 percent industrial
fuel, and 20 to 35 percent for pulp to make cardboard.
Bennett said that Rainier tries to
stay on the cutting edge as far as new markets and this
year they started supplying chips to Boise Cascade for
feedstock which is used to produce cardboard. He explained
that this market is “much higher up the value
chain than using chips for something like daily cover
at a landfill.”
Another partnership with Boise Cascade
was the production of a “wood chunk” product
to be used in siding manufacture. Rainer had to develop
a process that would result in chips of a very specific
size, made entirely from urban wood waste, with no particleboard.
Bennett added, “I’m not
sure if it’s cutting edge, but folks are always
interested that one of our clients is Emerald Downs,
the horseracing track in our area.” The track
uses Rainier’s chips “in the horse arenas
and in the hot walker areas.” The wood chips are
long-lasting, produce little dust, and are easily maintained.
Besides buying from public entities
including the City of Seattle and Washington State Department
of Transportation, they also buy from private companies
such as Waste Management and real estate developers.
As a service to the community, Rainier
accepts small drop-off loads of wood waste from homeowners.
After Christmas each year, they work with local Boy
Scouts on a Christmas tree recycling benefit, and are
ready and willing to work with any government agencies
on wood recycling projects.
In 2003, after a huge local windstorm,
Rainier gained local fame when they opened all of their
facilities for free drop-off of wood storm debris. When
local news stations carried the story, Rainier got nearly
7,000 cubic yards of wood in a single day.
Rainier has three processing sites
in Washington state, which includes one indoor facility
in Auburn. That facility, formerly a concrete pipe factory,
is now a “wood processing factory” designed
for manufacturing the wood chunks for Boise Cascade.
Along with the permanent sites, Rainier
has six mobile grinders for onsite work at client locations.
Bennett said, “We can chip on a customer’s
construction site with mobile equipment or source wood
to bring into our indoor processing facility.”
When asked what he enjoyed most of
the business, Bennett said, “Like most recyclers,
we get a kick out of finding uses for things people
used to throw away.” As for the personal component,
he added, “We’re a family business, so working
with great folks makes it fun – and frankly is
one of the keys to minimal staff turnover.”
Bennett said that his biggest challenge
is managing the business’s growth. The company
is always looking at new ventures. “Like any successful
business we must strategically select opportunities
that compliment our core business, understand where
the economy is headed, and be ready to meet market needs.”