AUGUST 2008

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Intercon Solutions
Brian Brundage • 708-756-9838
Brian Brundage

Brian Brundage, CEO of Intercon Solutions, didn’t plan on getting involved in recycling. “My family has always been in the automotive recycling industry,” he said, and he didn’t think he’d follow in those footsteps.

However, with Intercon, he saw a need for what he called a proper electronics recycler, “without a negative impact on the environment.” He explained that while other electronics recyclers were claiming that none of the material was landfilled in the United States, that wasn’t enough for him. “We don’t landfill anywhere,” he said.

What Brundage saw in the industry was a trend for electronics recyclers to salvage parts and resell working electronics. “That’s not true end-of-life recycling,” he said. “We recycle for raw base metals.”

Intercon demanufactures the electronics they recycle, and all of the work is done by hand. Brundage said that’s the only way to make sure it’s done correctly. “To us, it’s not about the amount of work; it’s about doing the job right.” Most of the material that Intercon receives is from manufacturers, and the second largest source is government entities.

Brundage noted that while some electronics recyclers offer their services for free, Intercon charges a small fee. “But it’s the last time you have to worry about that component,” he said. “Customers know that it’s done 100 percent right.”

Brundage said, “We do processing for the DOD [Department of Defense],” a particularly sensitive customer when it comes to data security. The hard drives that Intercon processes are completely dismantled, ensuring that the data can’t be retrieved. “That’s why the demanufacturing is so critical. When it leaves here, it’s aluminum for smelting. We make sure they [the customers] don’t have to worry,” he said. As far as the aluminum from those drives, “It’s going to be lawn furniture next year,” Brundage said.

It’s not all about assurances, though. Intercon has the data to back up its claims. The company is in the process of becoming ISO 9001 certified. “It’s pretty expensive to do that,” Brundage said, but he feels that the certification is important. “We have a third party come in and audit the whole process,” he said.

Intercon has about 55 employees, 35 of whom work on demanufacturing, which is a big change from the two employees that were on staff when Brundage bought the company in 2000.

In the electronics industry, one big change Brundage has seen is in the states’ regulations for electronics recycling. Many states have their own regulations, while others are still unregulated. Brundage foresees that there will be federal regulations soon, because the state laws are so inconsistent. “It will be interesting to see what happens in two to five years,” he said. “There needs to be blanket regulations.” Along with making laws the same throughout the country, he said that, “it will help to fund some of the proper recycling that we do.”

Brundage is expecting to see a surge in the volume of electronics recycling soon because of the upcoming change from analog to digital broadcasting. But along with growth comes challenges, including finding good quality people, putting systems in place, and managing growth. Brundage is getting ready for those challenges. He expects to see his business grow by 200 percent over the next two years, but, “as much as we’re growing, we can still handle new business,” he said.

The company growth, Brundage said, “is like expanding your family.” The new jobs “provide for employees and their families.”

Along with government and business changes, Brundage said that he has noticed a change in the public attitude towards recycling. He said, “All of a sudden, green is cool. People respect what we do.”

Even without public acknowledgement, Brundage said he enjoys the fact that his company is making a positive impact on the environment and he’s particularly proud of Intercon’s zero-landfill tolerance policy. “What we’re doing is really making a difference,” he said.

Even better, Brundage’s seven-year-old son is “into recycling.” Brundage said that his son tells people, “My dad is in recycling – he’s helping to save the earth.” That’s about as cool as any dad can be. And by the time this article is published, Brundage expects that his second son, another future recycling fan, will be born.