SBC Recycling
Michael Hatfield, President
Centerburg, Ohio  •  740-893-3567

07/2005

“If it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be here,” said Michael Hatfield, president of SBC Recycling in Ohio. It sounds like something the Oscar winners say to pay homage to family members who have put up with an actor’s eccentricities. Hatfield is talking about a more hands-on experience.SBC Recycling

In 1992, Michael’s father, Lynn, and mother, Betty, started a business that chopped newspaper for use as dairy bedding. Lynn handled the sales side of things, while Michael knew about scrap, “and at a time when most kids are out playing, my 12-year-old brother was feeding a downstroke baler,” Michael said.

Incorporation meant that the company needed officers, and it was casually decided that Lynn would be CEO, Betty would be treasurer, Michael would be president, and brothers Randy and Ryan would be vice presidents. “Up until a few years ago,” Michael said, “boardroom decisions were made at our parents’ kitchen table.”

The titles remain today, but Lynn and Betty are less active in the company. Randy is the executive vice president in charge of the southern region, working out of the Atlanta office, while Ryan is the executive vice president in charge of operations.

It wasn’t long before the business began to change. “Because we were just soliciting newspaper, we ended up taking other grades of paper.” Michael explained. Businesses wanted one company to take all of the paper, so SBC had to adjust to that need, taking in office paper and cardboard along with newspaper.

“In 1995, everything changed,” Michael said. The scrap market for newspaper skyrocketed, making it difficult to buy the newspaper at a price the farmers were willing to pay for the bedding. “We either had to go out of business, or become a recycling company.”

Through all of the changes, it was a family matter. “We laughed together, we cried together and we scratched our heads together,” Michael said.

In Ohio, there were plenty of paper mills and paper recyclers, so the next growth step required adding a new product: plastic. Then, three years ago, the company decided that growth meant expanding to other areas, by way of acquisitions, marketing agreements and sales offices. Today, SBC is working in Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago. In addition, 30 – 40% of their product is sold for export to China, Canada, Mexico, India and Saudi Arabia, and perhaps soon to Europe.

While the company used to be a bale-and-ship operation, they are progressing into more processing. They’ve also instituted a loose-poly route with a packer truck. This truck picks up loose poly from companies which don’t generate enough material to justify a baler. Material that used to be landfilled is now recycled and the truck picks up a full load of material on its route.

As for working this closely with family, Michael said, “It either fails miserably or it works wonderfully.” With SBC, the concept is working, and it even extends to employees. SBC’s office manger, general manager, and sales manager went to high school with Michael, and among the other employees are three sets of husbands and wives and two sets of brothers, and both Michael’s and Ryan’s wives work in the business.

“I may be the president.” Michael said, “but it is a family business.” And although his parents’ role has decreased over the years, he gives them credit for all of their work and support, “Without them helping us, we never would have made it.”


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