Electronics recyclers set return
Electronics recycling experts Bob Houghton and Jill Vaské are re-founding a computer and electronics business in Northern Nevada after a two-year hiatus.
Houghton and Vaské founded Remedtech on Spice Island Drive in Sparks and operated the business for 10 years before it was purchased by Arrow Electronics in 2012. Remedtech focused on refurbishing and reselling used electronics or recycling unusable components.
Houghton and Vaské spent the last two years refining the electronics recycling business model and have founded Sage Sustainable Electronics. The company headquartered at Columbus, Ohio, leased 32,000 square feet of industrial/office space at 655 Spice Island Drive and expects to begin operations in February.
Houghton, the company’s chief executive officer, says Sage Sustainable Electronics will focus on the same clientele as Remedtech — corporate clients in Nevada and California who often have large quantities of outdated electronics and computers that need to be recycled if they can’t be repurposed.
Sage, though, will be a “second-generation” recycling business, Houghton says. The founders have developed new technologies and techniques for accepting and servicing surplus electronics.
“The developments with Sage are focused on finding more way to use used electronics so more can be repurposed and fewer are headed into the recycling bin,” Houghton says. “We think that will be highly advantageous to the environment and also very valuable to our corporate customers.”
The biggest investment in the new company has been creating extensive data systems to quickly process equipment delivered to the Spice Island Drive warehouse. The company will use its proprietary “Sage Blue Book” to look up up electronics values, and the IT system will generate a work order for a technician to optimize the value of a given piece of electronics equipment.
“The biggest challenge with a truckload of electronics is figuring out what’s there, what works and how to make it as valuable as possible,” Houghton says. “We are going to reuse more, recycle less and sell for higher prices than in past; that is a direct benefit for our customers.”
The final leg of the table, Houghton adds, is in data destruction. Much of the equipment taken into the new warehouse still will contain client data on hard drives and other forms of memory. A major component of Sage Sustainable Electronic’s automation is recognizing where data is stored and destroying it in a verifiable way.
Sage already has begun hiring and expects to employ as many as 50 people when running at full capacity. Houghton expects many former Remedtech employees will seek employment with Sage.
Sage Sustainable Electronics opened its Columbus facility today and expects to open a third facility in Baltimore in March, with additional recycling facilities rolling out every six months beginning in July. Houghton, Veské and co-owner Wendy Neu are financing the business.
Sage expects to regain customers from its former business and leverage prior contacts in the electronics recycling industry to increase its customer base.
“We will win business by producing superior results,” Hougton says. “We think the technology we have invested in — the Sage Blue Book and automation — will make us more efficient and effect in recovering value and securing data. We will win just based on the numbers.”
Tiffiany Howard, a UNLV professor and recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation senior research fellow, is the lead author of the study aimed at identifying ways banks can help support and invest in Black entrepreneurs.