by Bob Grawey
While many businesses have suffered through a lengthy and tough recession, one Rogers company has expanded twice and is poised for even bigger growth.
Enviro-Chem, a recycling-based business, has been around since the early 1980s, starting out in Hamel.
In 1984 the Meyer family moved the operations to its present headquarters on Industrial Boulevard in Rogers.
It has been during the current recession, though, that Enviro-Chem has experienced more growth than any time in its 30-year history.
Last November the company expanded operations to a Hassan site. Another expansion occurred there last June for a combined 19,000 square feet to accommodate a growing recycling business.
“There is no metal we do not recycle,” Enviro-Chem president and general manager Todd Meyer says.
The Hassan locations handle non-ferrous metals such as aluminum, copper, stainless steel, brass, bronze and steel.
A second Rogers location processes electronics, harvesting circuit boards which are shredded and sent to smelting companies in Canada and Europe.
It is a major portion of Enviro-Chem’s business and a segment that is on the brink of significant growth.
Meyer says the company just landed a large contract with a Hong Kong company that will yield 40,000 pounds of circuit board recycling every week. It could mean the possibility of yet another expansion, Meyer concedes.
As with all its locations, Enviro-Chem is open to the public and accepts all electronics at any location. Monitors are accepted free of charge, but there is a 25-cent-per-pound fee for all other electronics including televisions.
“It costs a little bit, but at least you know it’s being taken care of,” Meyer says, “and not dumped somewhere.”
Perhaps the biggest gain, though, has been in precious metals. Handled at the Industrial Boulevard location, the company began buying gold and other precious metals from the public a year ago.
“We were doing good before,” Meyer says, “but with the market going as high as it has from the bad economy, people are selling off their sterling and gold that they do not use.”
Return customers are a big reason for the increase in business. That is due to a couple of major factors, he adds.
According to Meyer, Enviro-Chem pays top prices for precious metals; twice the amount paid out by places like television’s the Gold Guys.
“I looked into what these people were paying, and the mail-in companies, too,” Meyer says, “and found they were only paying 10 or 11 percent on the value. Some others were paying 40 to 50 percent of what it was worth. John Ewoldt of the Star Tribune checked us out last year unknown to us (June 5, 2010, Star Tribune) and found out we pay the highest gold prices in the Twin Cities.”
Meyer says his company pays 85 percent on the value of gold.
But people are also treated well, the company president insists.
“I had one customer who told me I was paying her too much,” Meyer says. “I told her, No, this is white gold, not silver.’ Sure, I could have paid her two bucks for that piece of jewelry, but it was worth $300 and that’s what I paid her.”
That kind of service combined with top prices apparently mean something to customers. Meyer says a big share of his precious metals business comes from repeat customers that come from all over the state, and even from as far away as Wisconsin and Iowa.
Customer service is a mainstay of Enviro-Chem, according to Meyer.
“If we take a few more minutes with someone who just wants to talk or has questions, it’s going to build a good, stable customer relationship,” Meyer explains. “We want to treat people well because we value people.”
Anyone can check on current prices for precious and non-ferrous metals by calling 763-428-4002 or 1-800-999-1294.
Locations are as follows:
•Precious metals are paid out at 21821 Industrial Blvd. in Rogers.
•Non-ferrous metals are handled at 11915 Brockton Lane in Hassan.
•Electronics are accepted at both locations, but call first for drop-off instructions when large quantities are involved.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at all locations except for the Industrial Boulevard location which opens at 9 a.m. On Fridays Enviro-Chem closes at 3:30 p.m.