David Forrester didn’t grow up the in
recycling business, and that’s part of what he attributes
his success to. A corporate consultant for many years, Forrester
was looking for something new – a business he could call
his own. His criteria for his new venture was that it had to
be an environmental business that was logistics based and management
“The more homework I did,” Forrester
said, “the more a couple things became clear.” He
explained that that at the time, most the tire recycling industry
“was dominated by people from one of two backgrounds:
either they were rubber recyclers from way, way back who never
had been involved in whole tire recycling. Or they were trash
people who were more interested in the collection and movement”
of the material than they were in recycling.
Forrester said, “There weren’t
really any manufacturing people involved, and that’s what
my background was, so I thought it was a good opportunity.”
There was new legislation that mandated “rubber
in the road,” offering a new market for scrap rubber,
and then the state of North Carolina offered a grant for a tire-recycling
business. Forrester applied for the grant and began setting
up his business. Later, he realized the grant wasn’t quite
what he had expected, offering matching funds on sales rather
than “front-end money” but he decided to go ahead
anyway. Tires, Inc. opened in 1991.
The business has grown since its inception,
now including two processing plants, one at the original Winston-Salem
location and the second in Calhoun, Georgia. Both Tires, Inc.
locations focus on truck tires only, and receive most of the
tires from other people who are in the collection business.
These are the companies who have contracts with the generators,
and they deliver the tires to Tires, Inc. for processing.
Forrester took over a second tire processing
business, Global Tire in Wildwood, Florida which was in bankruptcy
when Forrester acquired it in February of last year. By November,
it was out of bankruptcy. Global Tire takes in mostly car tires
along with some truck tires, directly from the local county
as well as tire shops and haulers who have contracts with generators.
Forrester said that one of the things he likes
about the business is “feeling like we’re making
a difference environmentally” as tires are removed from
the waste stream. He is also interested in finding “higher
uses for the end products.”
Forrester has been in business, he’s seen significant
growth in the use of rubber as a mulch, often replacing pine
bark and pine straw as a preferred material. He said that the
rubber can be colored to suit the landscape design and “it
lasts practically forever”.
Forrester said rubber is also increasingly
used as artificial turf infill. “Stuff today is four inches
long and is filled halfway up with rubber or rubber and sand,”
he explained, making it as good as or better than natural turf.
He explained that natural turf needs maintenance and can’t
withstand sustained use.
“Artificial turf can be played on 24
hours a day with no maintenance issues,” he said. While
it is initially more expensive, artificial turf saves money
in the long run and allows one field to take the place of several
where there is a lot of use.
Forrester also expects to see a lot of growth
in the use of molded products where recycled rubber is used.
He said that over time, recycled rubber will see more high-end
use, although tire-derived fuel will see a “short-term
Another prediction is that there will be “more
and more competition for the scrap tire,” as more markets
for the rubber increases. While he doesn’t anticipate
the scrap tire market rivaling scrap metal sales, within the
next five years “at least they won’t be paying to
get rid of them,” Forrester said.