The Retrofit Companies Blog

Interview with Darin at Wausau Supplies : HID to T8 to LED

 

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About Darin & his work at Wausau Supply:

I’m currently Central Regional Manager for Wausau Supply, so I have five locations I watch over. I started in 2000 at Wausau Supply and came in as a day shift manager. I progressed to Operations manager, running just this location. After that I started the position they call District Manager, doing what I do now for the Central Region, watching over five locations.

Sounds busy! Are all of your locations in Minnesota?

It’s quite a bit of travel. The locations I oversee are in Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas.

I know you’ve worked with TRC in the past on projects at one of your facilities back in 2009, and again most recently in 2016 on a different lighting project – can you tell me about that?

The first project was in 2009, and that was to address the metal halide bulbs that we had. We saved a ton of money when we switched to T8’s, which was the most current technology at the time. We still have that system in the warehouse. It saved a lot of money and it’s still saving compared to what it would have been if we continued to use metal halide.

Then we were talking to TRC rep, LuAnn, and she was proposing LED lights for us. We decided to give them a try in the space for this most recent 2016 project, and they’re fabulous. The lighting is so much better. You can see all the way to the ground underneath the shelves even. Before the upgrade, the bottom shelf would be dark. With the LED lights we get all the way down there and can see things on the bottom.

How did you originally connect with The Retrofit Companies?

One of your sales people just stopped in. The rebates were really good back then, 2008 or 2007, and she stopped in and said, “Do you mind if I take a look in your warehouse to see what you have for lighting?” And we said yes. So they looked at it and said, “We could really save you a lot of money if you just let us give a proposal to you.” We sat and listened, and ended up rolling out that plan at five or six other locations.

We knew it was kind of dumb to have metal halides, even at that time, when there’s so much better technology out there.

For your most recent LED project, you decided to purchase the Investment Grade Audit reports from TRC. Did you take that plan to any other contractors to get comparison bids?

No, but since we have a pretty good relationship with TRC, every once in a while someone will randomly stop in and want to propose to us. Then I’ll send it on to LuAnn, and say, “LuAnn, shoot some holes in this proposal for me.” She’ll say, “Oh my gosh, they’re not even talking about this!” or “They don’t even know the lighting level.” The competition is just trying to undercut everybody, and a few years down the road you’re probably not going to be too happy with it.

With the investment grade audit you know what to expect. It does cost a little bit more, but then you do know what you’re getting and they ask for your input, too.

The next project we’ve already greenlighted is the exterior lighting. It’s all metal halide and long overdue. Your team looked through it, asked some questions and determined that we needed one more light on a building. So, they’re redesigning it a bit based on our conversation.

So, you’ve seen a difference between The Retrofit Companies and our competitors?

I feel more comfortable that TRC is doing a complete job. We don’t want the cheapest job, we want a complete job – something you’re going to stand behind, that you’re going to do it the way that we want it, and listen to us. We’ve found that to be true with The Retrofit Companies, so I haven’t really needed to competitively shop.

Back in 2009, the TRC rep presented an opportunity to save with your upgrade from metal halide (HID) to T8 fluorescent, and now you have this opportunity to improve again with LED technology. What are your goals for this project?

We’d like to save somewhere in that vicinity again. We’re doing it in small bites because the philosophy at the corporate level is that we’ve got a few locations much worse off (lighting efficiency-wise) than we are here. So, if we can do that LED project somewhere else as a proving ground it will help – for example in our Montana facility which is still all HID.

We’re doing these small bits at our facility, the lockroom and exterior, but maybe another facility will be lucky enough to get their entire warehouse in LED. We’ll be able to do that eventually, it makes sense to within the next few years.

With the recent lockroom project, going to LED lighting, were there any surprising results? You mentioned earlier about the light reaching the bottom of the racks, and that it never had before.

The lighting is even and it’s not harsh at all. It’s subtle, like a daylight feel. We were hoping it wasn’t going to be a drastic change where it wouldn’t give us headaches or like the fluorescents that would sometimes have a harsh glare. Everyone likes the light, it’s nice and even and bright throughout the whole space – not overly bright. Everyone has said they like it, no one has had any complaints. Usually, when you get some kind of a new lighting system someone’s going to think it’s too bright, it gives them a headache, or something, but I haven’t heard any complaints at all.

BEFORE:

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AFTER:

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In your job, I’m sure you worked with many different contractors on various types of projects, and you’ve now worked with TRC at least twice on projects over the years – is there anything you can say about your experience with TRC, how it might have changed, or how it might be different from your experience with other contractors?

This latest project was all good, the install was very quick. They were attentive to what we were doing because they had to work around us, and did a great job keeping everything neat and organized. For example, the used fixtures were out of the way, not in our way, and your electrician did a favor for me. I asked him if he could take a couple of the old T8’s he was taking out and put a cord on there for us so we could use them as shop lights in our tool cage where we had some terrible lights. He said, “No problem,” and threw on two cords so we could also have new lights in that tool cage. I thought that was pretty cool, he didn’t even think about it at all, it was no problem.

Are there any other aspects of the installation or bid process that stood out to you?

This project was only an 8 light switch over, so it was a small project. The electrician came in at 8 a.m. and he was done by 3. All cleaned up and had our pallet of old fixtures ready to recycle, and they had someone from TRC come out and pick them up. At least I think they did, I have to check…

Well, if they haven’t yet, let us know and we’ll have someone come out for you!

Sure thing!

Have you been able to take advantage of utility rebates with your projects? Did TRC help with that?

Every project we’ve done has had rebates involved. The first one (2009 warehouse project) was pretty huge, about 30-40,000 dollar rebate and it really helped out. This last one, was a smaller project so a smaller amount, but the upcoming exterior project anticipates a fair amount of rebate. I probably wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a rebate. We would probably wait because rebates seem to cycle in and out every few months so it would be dumb not to use a rebate.

How about sensors? What has been your experience with sensors on your lighting systems?

They have sensors on them now, they’re all sensored. That is something that should always be sold with a project. It saves us TONS of money because most of these companies (warehouses) aren’t flying around in all those aisles all night long. The sensors save us a lot. We had metal halides burning the whole time the warehouse was open, and now with sensors on the fixtures those lights might stay off 3 or 4 hours at a time. Consider all the hours saved in a year and that’s a lot of money.

Last question, do you have any advice for other companies that are just beginning to research energy-efficient lighting projects, or just starting out with hiring contractors for energy-efficient lighting project?

I would say, let them show you the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Let them show you the proposal, show you what the project could save you if you switched over to new fixtures, the breakdown of how quickly it will payback. If the payback is within five to seven years it should be a no-brainer to anybody, whether you’re putting in carpeting or lighting. It would definitely be well worth an hour of your time, especially if you have metal halide lighting. What you’re going to save is going to be phenomenal. You’re going to be a hero within your company for doing it. =

Did this interview help you get some insight on what it's like to work with The Retrofit Companies? You can read more customer stories here, or go ahead and get our guide to help you ask the right questions when choosing a partner for your next lighting project!

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

read more case studies on TRC blog

Interview with Trent Lowe: Allied Parking LED Retrofit

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Recently, we shared a new case study about an LED retrofit project recently completed at Allied Parking's Gateway ramp located downtown Minneapolis. This facility is unique because the first floor is a layover terminal for MTC buses. Keep reading to find out why Trent felt that working with TRC was different than working with other contractors.

Hi, Trent! Can you give us an introduction? Who are you, how are you affiliated with Allied Parking?

I’m Trent Lowe, Area Manager for Allied Parking. We have four parking ramps downtown Minneapolis. I’m in charge of all day-to-day operations, and running business for those four properties. The job includes lots of different duties from overseeing capital improvement, to customer service, to budgeting planning.

I have been with Allied for 2 years, with these properties for six years.

 

Today we’re talking about the LED parking lot lighting at Gateway ramp, is this the first lighting project you’ve done?

This is the first project we’ve done with TRC.

This parking ramp is a little different than a typical parking ramp. The first floor is actually a bus layover facility. It’s part of Metro Transit, the governmental organization in Minneapolis that oversees busing or public transportation. When the bus drivers have time in between routes, they will park in this area, and the floors above this ground level are a standard parking ramp. The project we did with The Retrofit Companies addressed all of the lighting in that Metro Transit bus layover facility.

They were old lights, probably original to the ramp- about thirty years old. A few years ago we retrofitted the lighting in the top floors of the ramp to fluorescent T8. These lamps in the busing area were still high pressure sodium lamps, so it was on the radar for many years. We wanted to upgrade, but never did. We finally met up with Justin from The Retrofit Companies late summer 2015, and started talking about doing the LED project because of the prices of LED’s coming down. And the process went from there.

 

How did you connect with TRC?

Justin had worked with Ann, an associate who works with other Allied property locations. Ann put us in touch.

 

That’s great, we love word of mouth! Can you tell me about working with other vendors versus TRC? Was it different in any way?

I would definitely say the relationship with TRC was a consultant-type relationship. Justin was very helpful. Straightforward, and I trusted that he wasn’t just trying to sell me whatever product was going to give him the best profitability. He took the time to make sure we were comfortable, and that we were getting the best product for our purpose. That was great

The other big thing that I really thank him for was he helped us get connected with the city of Minneapolis initiative which had just started. Because of that we were able to take part in the pilot program for some cost reimbursement for the project, on top of the Xcel Energy rebate. I was not aware of that program from the city, and we would not have gotten it, if it weren’t for Justin and The Retrofit Companies. It was really cool that they helped us with that opportunity to offset more of the costs.

 

Before the project your parking garage lighting was HID or high pressure sodium… did you have specific goals for this project? What were you expecting as the outcome?

Our only goals were to get something more efficient and to improve lighting in the area because the lighting was very poor and also very inefficient compared to today’s standards. We had seen, especially over the last couple of years, that pricing on LED’s has dropped to make that sort of project more viable. We were definitely excited about the LED technology and that was the direction we were going, but we didn’t have any specific product or goal in mind other than improving efficiency and improving quality of light.

 

Any surprising results?

We’re surprised that it’s looking better than we were anticipating it would. Otherwise, no surprises really. We’re very impressed with how much it brightened up the facility. It’s a night and day difference, as you can probably see from the photos. It was even better than we expected, but other than that it was exactly what we were expecting.

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How was the installation experience? How were the TRC crews that put the new system in place for you?

They were great, I mean, they did the project much quicker than everyone was telling me. They said it would take over a week, and TRC crews were actually out of there in four full work days. The whole time they were working the bus area was still open; there were still buses going in and out of there. TRC had no issues working around them or staying out of their way. No one was calling to say, “Hey these guys are in the way,” or “This is a problem,” or anything like that. It went very smoothly. The install was effortless, better than expected as far as time line and issues.

 

Did other vendors approach you with this same project in mind? Tell me about your experience with other vendors on similar projects.

In 2010 or 2011 we retrofitted our facilities to T8 fluorescent, and we had good experiences with other contractors. We did have several people approach us - it seems like lots of lighting companies are always coming in wanting to do projects – so, we did have several bidders with different options for this bus garage project that The Retrofit Companies just completed.

 

What aspects of the TRC project or bid process made it stand out?

Definitely the personal attention and the feeling from Justin that he was more of a consultant role and was really trying to help us rather than just sell us the products. It was very helpful and established some trust. Also, that he was able to come up with the program from City of Minneapolis. That was huge. A lot of these other firms can get us similar products and the pricing is similar, but TRC did the homework and got us the extra cost sharing program funds that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about. That was very helpful, as well.

 

Last question: Do you have advice for other companies that are considering a lighting project?

Talk to TRC. (ha-ha)

 

We’ll take that! But what about advice for people who are just starting their research on energy-efficient lighting projects and contractors or partners to do the work?

The people you’re working with and the working relationship that you have is very important. That can make the project. Obviously, there can be hurdles that are unforeseen and things can go wrong, but the quality of the people that are addressing those issues with you, your partners or contractors in that project, are what’s going to make a project ultimately successful or not - regardless of the variables you can plan for. Make sure you’re working with quality people that you can count on.

 

Really good advice! Thanks for your time, Trent. Do you have anything to add?

Just to say that we had a very positive experience on the whole project. It went great and it was a pleasure for us.

 

Thanks again!

 

Did this interview help you get some insight on what it's like to work with The Retrofit Companies? You can read more customer stories here, or go ahead and get our guide to help you ask the right questions when choosing a partner for your next lighting project!

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor



Corporations Step Up to Support Community Ewaste Recycling Collections

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In northern Minnesota, a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, is the town of Warroad. This unassuming small town is home to Marvin Windows and Doors, the world’s largest manufacturer of made-to-order wood window and door products. While the town has a population just under two thousand people, the business employs more than 5,200 people at their ten nationwide locations. The company has been recognized widely for its ethical and responsible practices and was named The Most Ethical Large Company in America in 2014. At the core of their values you find environmental stewardship activities ranging from conservation, sustainability programs, and recycling efforts.

Given its rural location and the fact that it is a community anchor, there is something distinctive about the location of the headquarters and their sense of community in the workplace. As I learned about the company, this fact shone through and continued to when I interviewed Wayne Pearson. Wayne is a Waste Management Supervisor, and we met to talk about a program that was founded at Marvin Windows and Doors to help alleviate a recycling issue he noticed as a result of the town’s somewhat remote location and lack of recycling outlets. The company has a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and Pearson was in a unique position to address this lack-of-recycling problem in a way that perhaps others may not have been able to do. He understood the importance of recycling, and naturally he felt the same importance applied to individuals, as well. He explains, “Up here, we’re so far away from any recycling markets, and the employees needed these services. We did not have the avenues to recycle electronics and glass like more populated areas.” He suggested the company hold a recycling event specifically for employees, sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The company is proactive. It’s very evident with programs like this. They supported the idea and the financial aspects of it, too. They are the ones that get this. Their support to the employees is tremendous.”

The first ewaste recycling collection event was held in 2012 with great success. Just over 23,000 pounds of electronics were recycled; all of these items brought to the collection by employees at the headquarters location! In 2013 the event peaked at 25,477 pounds of electronics, plus another 10,552 pounds of appliances. By 2014, Pearson was seeing the amount of waste drop: roughly 18,000 pounds of electronics and 4,000 pounds of appliances were recycled at that event. In 2015, another drop to 15,573 pounds of electronics, but with the most recent event in October 2016, something surprising happened – the collection event generated just over 19,000 pounds of electronics. “I’m not sure what to say on the 2016 results, I’m a little bit disappointed. I’d rather have it continue to decline! Word is getting out there more, and I know there are a certain amount of new people taking advantage of the program,” Pearson said.

Wayne and I talked a bit about the growth and future of the program, and the support offered by Marvin Windows and Doors. “The first two years, when we started the electronics recycling program, there was no charge to anyone to do this because the commodity markets for recycling were great. We had an appliance recycling event, too. The markets were so good that there was no cost to the company. Now the last three years, the markets have declined and we have lost some of our recycling avenues,” he says, referring to another program in the county that recycled glass, but ended up leaving the market and leaving residents with no glass recycling option. Parenthetically, Marvin Windows and Doors now offers a glass recycling program to its employees since the county doesn’t offer that type of recycling program anymore.

“The local transfer station will take [electronic] items, but they charge $5 a piece for them. We’re offering these services to the employees now. During the collection event we say, ‘Yes! Bring your items to recycle, there’s no charge!’ We also have internal support for these activities and it’s a pretty amazing thing for the company to do. Marvin Windows and Doors is progressive, and I want to support that by doing the best thing I can do for the company.”

The two-day event is held once a year, and employees are invited to bring their electronic waste in to be collected by Pearson and his team. I asked him about the effort it takes to organize an event like this, and Wayne said, “It’s outside of the facilities’ normal activities, so we take two days for the collection. There is a lot of work and preparation for it, and then during the collection we’re actually kept pretty busy. We don’t staff it full time, but we try to make it so that someone is there if people bring heavier items.” At the end of the event, waste is shipped to The Retrofit Companies’ location in Little Canada, MN to be sorted and delivered for recycling.

Over the span of just ten days, over the course of 5 years, in a town with less than 1,800 residents, one company was able to collect more than 115,000 pounds of waste electronics and appliances as a service to its employees. This waste was diverted from improper disposal or landfilling, and was responsibly recycled. The community collection model has been a staggering success for the worker community at Marvin Windows and Doors.

So, what do employees who take advantage of the recycling collection think of it and would Pearson recommend this for other organizations? In short, resounding positivity. He says, “Yes, it’s a morale booster and a service. It’s well worth the effort to get this type of program going. I’ve been working with Jake [TRC Environmental Sales Director] for two years on this, and it is awesome working together. Planning this out, the support of our company, the many individuals coming together to communicate these efforts. It’s a huge opportunity for Marvin Windows and Doors employees to clean out basements, garages, and storage areas for no charge. The employees are grateful and appreciative that this is a possibility. This is something a company can do that is beneficial to employees. It is a big effort, but well worth it.” •

 

Looking for additional information to plan community recycling collection programs? Read this:

How to plan your community recycling day

Why Invest in a Lighting Study? (VIdeo Interview)

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Sweet Harvest facility manager, Brian Pleschcourt talks about his experience with an aging and inefficient lighting system, and tells us how the Lighting Redesign Study process worked for his facility.  Read the interview now.

Why did Sweet Harvest decide to replace the lighting in your facility? What were the issues you faced and what were some of your company's goals for the lighting project?

"We knew it was time to replace the lighting in the facility because we had a lot of older existing fixtures with lamp failures and also with ballast issues. We had a general yellowish tint to the building. We wanted to improve the lighting and the quality of lighting for our employees' productivity and safety. Also, to support our green initiatives toward saving energy."


What solutions were evident in the study that you may not have been able to realize without that first planning step of an Investment Grade Audit?

"We saw with the motion sensors and controls on the lighting that we could save more energy. Sweet Harvest foods has a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and we take that very seriously. We were able to take out the length of the project - as far as payback - a little longer knowing we were making good decisions, environmentally sound decisions. [These were] decisions that would save us money in the long run."

In your opinion, what were the benefits of the lighting study process?

"One of the benefits to the lighting study was that we were able to look at new technologies in the existing building. That [part of the study] allowed us to reduce the amount of fixtures in the layout, lighting exactly to what our needs were going to be. There's no guess work. Everything is calculated and engineered."

 

Watch the video! 

 

If you're thinking it's time to invest in a lighting study, get our free e-book today & learn more:

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The Surprising Impact of Lighting Redesign

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Before their lighting redesign and retrofit, this arena building was underlit and had major shadows.

Rick A Shay Ranch is a horse lover’s sanctuary nestled at the end of a wooded drive in Chisago City, Minnesota. Owner operator Pam Foshay started her ranch nearly 20 years ago, and describes her history with horses as spanning several decades including a notable list of credentials. On the ranch Pam offers lessons, boarding, and training in a range of styles from basic handling and trail riding to dressage and games. The training is physical and mental for all involved. From her description, most of her clients are children and young adults with whom she loves to share her vast experience and cites that best parts of her job are the long relationships she is able to have with riders. She says some of them started with her when they were under ten years old. She has watched them grow, volunteer, and develop their dedication to the hard work of caring for the animals into impressive points of interest when applying for colleges and jobs. Many of them are now in their 20’s and still spend time at Rick A Shay Ranch.

Pam’s primary arena was constructed in the late 1990’s, and at the time, the lights installed were previously used. Some of the primary issues with the old lighting, aside from being inefficient and expensive to operate, included cones of light and many shadows within the arena area. She knew it was time for an upgrade, so she began working with The Retrofit Companies to have a new lighting system designed and installed.

Consultants from The Retrofit Companies designed a system where interior and exterior metal halide and incandescent fixtures were replaced with new LED fixtures. Inside, the 17 existing metal halide fixtures that used over 450 watts each were replaced with 12 new LED fixtures that consume only 102 watts per fixture. With the system redesign five fixtures were removed, and lighting performance is improved. Photometric studies prior to installation allow us to see projected outcomes and determine if a fixture will perform in the manner expected. On the exterior of the building, new LED fixtures with dusk-to-dawn sensors now light the side of the building and the doorways automatically as needed, making early chores easier for her and late departures safer for her clients.

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After the project was completed, inside was almost as bright at the outside!

We asked Pam about the other improvements she and her riders have experienced since the project was completed, and were surprised by some of her answers. She told us that people comment on the improved look and that the better lighting is important to the young riders as they learn new skills. Regarding the performance of the system she says, “It’s two times brighter, and no glare. We turn them on, and zing, they’re on!” She noted that it’s nice and bright, and during the winter it’s always a sunny day inside. “It’s inviting, let’s put it that way.” We know that improved lighting does have an impact on people, and has been proven to increase productivity so we asked about the horses. One of the most interesting aspects of the project we think, was Pam’s answer to this inquiry. She says the horses can see better in the new light. They are able to better use all of the arena space since shadows are reduced and they’re more relaxed; in turn this relaxes the riders for a more enjoyable learning experience.

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Pam’s new lighting system is anticipated to reduce her annual lighting costs by an astonishing 84%. The LED retrofit qualified for a utility rebate of $4,100, and offers a simple payback of one year and nine months. These remarkable results aren’t exclusive to large projects, or giant warehouse spaces, even smaller businesses can see dramatic improvements with lighting redesign and upgrade projects.

Curious about lighting redesign and project planning? Get our ebook!

Why invest in a lighting study?

 

Interview: Chemical Waste Clean Up in Schools

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Today we talk to Dan Swanson, Building and Grounds Supervisor at Hermantown Schools about his recent first experience with The Retrofit Companies’ environmental services division. Dan is very near his retirement and working to tie up loose ends before he leaves his facility to the new supervisor. One of his looming jobs was to safely and responsibly take care of special wastes that had accumulated over the years. He chose to hire TRC for the first time ever to handle this chemical waste clean up project, and was willing to take some time to share the story with us. Let’s see what he has to say!

 

How did you hear about TRC? 

Your rep contacted me by e-mail. The timing was right, we needed the service, so I got in touch with them.

 

What made you decide to work with us? And what services did TRC provide for you?

We had a fair amount of hazardous waste build-up. There were a lot of things to take care of: paint, cleaning solutions, lights, etc. Our local waste company required us to inventory all the waste prior to disposal, but with TRC, they came and did all that.

 

Was TRC staff experienced & knowledgeable; were we able to provide a meaningful partnership and make your chemical clean up successful?

They did a great job. We had a short time line and everything just worked out. Our district is building new schools, and I’m set to retire shortly. It was important to take care of the waste before the new guy takes over.

 

How responsive was your TRC Sales Rep to your questions or concerns?

They are very responsive. Our clean-up project was taken care of in just a couple weeks from the first time I called.

 

Tell us about scheduling your cleanup – Were we able to fit your ideal schedule?

I had a small window of time and TRC was very helpful in meeting that time requirement. It took the stress away.

 

Tell us about your perception of value for the hazardous waste recycling service provided. Was it a good value compared to any other vendors that also provided quotes for the same project?
TRC was competitively priced, and we were happy with the quality of their service.

 

What advice would you give to other schools that wish clean out their chemical wastes?

Hire someone like TRC to handle it from start to finish. It was a big process, and your guys made it so much easier.

 

Would you recommend us to your colleagues? If yes, what was the greatest benefit you received by working with us?
Yes.  It takes a lot of pressure off of you by having a qualified company handle it in a proper way.

 

Thanks for the interview, Dan! We're happy to hear that your experience was a good one. It really does sound like managing hazardous waste was made simpler by working with TRC.

When you are ready to clean up the hazardous and chemical waste in your facility, learn how to choose a reputable hazardous waste vendor or get our inventory kit for free!

Hazardous Waste inventory help

INTERVIEW: Planning your community recycing event with TRC

UPDATED MARCH 2017

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Today, we are interviewing Chris from City of Maplewood. He has worked with TRC to organize community recycling collection events for the past several collection seasons. The last event was successful for them, so we asked if he was willing to talk a bit about their experience. We're happy to say that he was and said we could share the conversation here. Hopefully, this insight will help other communities with how they can start a community recycling collection. Keep reading to learn about how their successful event came together!

Tell us about selecting the date/time for the event.
There really is no rhyme or reason for our date. That was a day that the Aldrich Arena was available and it also worked for the majority of the vendors that we talked with.


How did you select the site for the event to be held? What logistics and accessibility concerns did you have to take into consideration?
The Aldrich Arena is a great site to run a cleanup event. It has a lot of available space for the vendor staging and has the ability to handle long vehicle lines safely if it gets busy.


Did City of Maplewood absorb any recycling costs on behalf of the residents?
The city normally covers around 50-60% of the costs for disposal.


Why did you select to work with TRC? 
We have worked with TRC for the past few events and their staff has been very helpful and professional in during the events. The city also went out for pricing and TRC has the most competitive pricing.

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ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY CITY OF MAPLEWOOD: Cars line up at the site, and drive through to drop off their appliances, computers, and other recyclable wastes. Generally, residents stay inside their vehicles while workers unload. (left) TRC workers and event volunteers unload vehicles, and sort items to be loaded onto recycling trucks. (right) 

Was TRC staff experienced & knowledgeable? Were we able to provide a meaningful partnership and make your event successful?
The staff was great to work with. The only issue was that our event was so well attended that the trucks filled up and the driver had to swing back and make a few trips to get everything from the site to their warehouse after the event. Even with the craziness of the event their staff was still able to handle the extreme workload placed on them!

Was there any community volunteer involvement to help offset labor costs at the event and promote community involvement, or did you have any volunteers at the event to help unload and manage traffic?
The city partnered with Ramsey County Sentence to Serve for volunteers and has staff from both Tennis sanitation (the events vendor) and some folks from the City’s Public works crews. 


At the time of the event (or after) did you receive any resident feedback on the event? 
People loved the event! The lines stayed moving and the weather was wonderful. The last few years it has rained or snowed during the event so people just seemed generally happy to enjoy the nice day.


How does the city promote these events to its residents?
We use newsletters, Twitter, Facebook, and our website.

appliance-recycling-and-collection.jpgAppliances are loaded onto trucks to be shipped and recycled at a TRC end-facility. (left) Palletized CPU's and televisions in a cubic yard box are prepared for shipping while on site before loading into trucks. (right)


What advice would you give to other communities that wish to plan their first, or improve their existing recycling collection events?
Plan, promote, repeat! Also, talk with the vendors to make sure that everything will be in place and that everyone understands what is expected at the event from staff and vendors.

Outside of these events, how does your city help promote responsible waste disposal? How can people get rid of these items if they don’t come to a collection event?
We receive many calls from residents and we always work to direct them to responsible methods of disposal. The Ramsey County A to Z disposal guide is a very helpful, too, for residents.

How can people get in touch with City of Maplewood or find more information about your community events?
Our website at www.maplewoodmn.gov has all the information, people can also follow us on twitter @MaplewoodMN.


Thanks again to City of Maplewood for choosing TRC as a partner & to Chris for the interview. If your community is thinking about planning an event, start by reading "How to Plan Your Own Community Recycling Day" right here on the blog.

How to plan your community recycling day

 

 

Interview: Safely Managing Hazardous Waste in Schools

Safely managing hazardous waste in schools

photo source

For as long as students have been in schools, the methods and tools of teaching have evolved and changed. Today we're sharing a short interview with a small school district that came up against a confusing, and potentially dangerous set of chemicals in their science labs that needed to go. The chemicals had eclipsed their classroom usefulness, and while they had been sitting idly on a shelf for some time the threat of their presence was real. The story is not unique, but not many clients we've worked with are willing to share. We're lucky to have this insight from a small district in South Dakota and hope it helps you.

If you're not interested in the interview, skip right ahead to get the Hazardous Waste Inventory Kit now and you'll receive:

  • A two page users guide to accurately inventory waste 

  • MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) Quick Facts

  • 3 ways to Find MSDS Sheets you need


Roxanne is the Business Manager for a small school district in South Dakota. Her job includes a wide range of responsibilities, which is something many of us are familiar with these days. Many times in our jobs, we are asked to make decisions, buy products, or hire vendors outside our personal scopes of expertise. Roxanne tells us more about their chemical waste disposal project, and how she found and decided to work with TRC. We also interview one of the TRC service techs about safely managing hazardous waste.

 

TRC: What was the nature of your project? Why did you hire TRC?

Roxanne: We had several old chemicals that needed disposal. Our school liability insurance carrier had instructed us (after an inspection) that the old chemicals would pose a liability issue to the school if anything should happen, like an explosion or fire. During the project, your tech discovered a chemical TRC could not dispose of. It was a very old chemical used in making bombs. [Editor: TRC does not handle explosive, radioactive, or bio-hazardous wastes.] The tech instructed us on who to contact and how it would be taken care of. We contacted the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, bomb squad and they set up a date to come down and dispose of the chemical.

 

TRC: How did you hear about us and what made you select TRC as a vendor for your project?

Roxanne: I spoke with your representative at a South Dakota Association of School Business Officials conference in Pierre, South Dakota. When we realized the need for this project TRC was the only vendor I had for this type of service.

 

TRC: Did you feel that TRC did a good job with project management, your budget, and helping you understand the process changes when the unexpected chemicals were found?

Roxanne: We are 100% satisfied with the service provided by TRC. We have received all the necessary documentation needed to show our liability insurance company that the volatile chemicals were removed from the school and disposed of correctly. The project was completed on time. We were quoted a price and were billed for the exact quoted amount.

 

TRC: What is the primary benefit you have experienced by using TRC as your service provider? 

Roxanne: After the TRC disposal visit, we are confident that the remaining chemicals we have are safe for the school environment.  We were contacted several times before the visit (to set up the date and time of visit) and several times after the disposal date (to check on our satisfaction and to check on the remaining chemical that was to be disposed of by the bomb squad of Sioux Falls).

 

TRC: Thanks, Roxanne. We really appreciate you sharing your story with us! 

 

That sounds like a pretty serious set of chemicals that Roxanne was dealing with, so we decided to talk directly to the TRC tech, Nick. He took care of the lab packing on site for this hazardous waste recycling project. 

 

TRC: What was the chemical that you found in the school? And why were you unaware of it before you came to do the lab pack?

Nick: They had solid benzoyl peroxide. We usually see organic peroxides in solution instead of as a solid.


TRC: How often do you find chemicals like this, are they really common? Where are they likely to be hiding out?

Nick: Organic peroxides are fairly common, but the vast majority of them are not explosive when they are initially purchased. More often when we come across explosive peroxides, they are materials that have been kept well past their expiration date and have become explosive over time. Cream hardeners for automotive body repair, ethyl ether, tetrahydrofuran, and picric acid are a few of the most commonly found items.


TRC: What is the best first step you would recommend to anyone trying to safely manage hazardous wastes or get a clean-up in motion?

Nick: For ongoing waste management it is important to be aware of what you have in your facility. Keeping a live inventory of chemicals and their expiration dates will help to ensure that chemicals are disposed of in a timely manner once they are no longer usable. Also, labeling of secondary containers is very important. Disposal of unknown chemicals is always a scary proposition, and for the most part it can easily be avoided by simply labeling containers. Finally, if you already have a large stockpile of chemicals that you no longer need, act quickly. Unfortunately, proper disposal of chemical wastes rarely gets cheaper over time and the risk of spills, reactions, and complications grows the longer you sit on them.

TRC: Thanks, Nick! 

 Are you dealing with a unique waste situation, or curious what it will take to clean up at your facility. Contact TRC today to talk to one of our environmental services specialists.

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

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