|Bruce Giordano, general manager of Bennett Construction, Fruitland, Md., says the company’s new C&D processing facility, which opened in January 2012, has been successful. (Photo by Janet Huhn)|
Bennett Construction has been demolishing buildings and excavating areas around Maryland’s eastern shore for more than half a century. Throughout the years, the company has continued to evolve and expand into related businesses.
In 1982, Bennett Construction acquired its first roll-off trucks for use on its projects. The company then entered the hauling business as other companies began requesting their hauling services. This eventually led to the purchase of another roll-off company in 2001. The way in which Bennett Construction began its recycling business was somewhat of an accident according to General Manager Bruce Giordano.
Of course the company already had the loads of material from its demolition, excavating and hauling business. Then as Giordano describes it, “One day we had the kooky idea of ‘let’s bring the loads here, dump them out, and put them on a trailer and ship them.’”
After finding success separating and shipping material, the company was informed by a state official that since what it was doing was essentially processing material, it needed to get permitted as a C&D processing facility. Bennett began the permitting process in 2005, but since its construction business was booming at that time and taking up a lot of the company’s focus, Giordano says, Bennett didn’t push full steam ahead with its plans for a C&D processing facility until about two years ago. Then he says, the process began to move quickly.
BENNETT CONSTRUCTION AT A GLANCE:
Principals: David Bennett, president; Bill Bennett, vice president; Bruce Giordano, general manager
No. of Employees: 33 total; 18 at Bennett C&D Processing Facility
Equipment: General Kinematics 24-foot Syncro-Coil Vibratory Finger-Screen with a 5-by-128-foot pick belt conveyor with 14 chutes; a 3-foot-by-27-foot fines belt running beneath a 48-inch wide self-cleaning electromagnet; a Cat M318C raised cab excavator; a Cat 242B skid-steer; a Rotochopper EC-256; a Marathon/Nexgen Gemini 3560 horizontal, closed-door conveyor-fed baler
Capacity: estimated 10,000 tons/year
Materials accepted: wood, metal, block/masonry, vinyl siding, plastics, paper, OCC
In 2008, Bennett began its first front-end route, which Giordano says has now tripled in size. And Bennett C&D Processing Facility officially opened its doors in January 2012. Giordano says business is off to a promising start.
“We are a small operation, but currently the only permitted C&D processing facility on Maryland’s eastern shore,” Giordano says.
Debris from Bennett’s jobs and material from other haulers unload inside of the 15,000-square-foot enclosed facility.
“All incoming loads are under the watch of cameras from the time they enter the property until they leave to help alleviate any issues of contamination and accidents,” Giordano explains. “Drivers can remain in their truck the whole time they are on the property because we have an automated ticket delivery system and floor personnel to open and close all truck containers.”
A lot of the material processed at the facility comes from the demolition and earthwork side of Bennett’s own business and it’s front-end routes for OCC (old corrugated containers). The company says it also continues to attract outside haulers.
Giordano estimates currently 70 percent of the material processed for recycling comes from Bennett and 30 percent is from outside haulers. He anticipates that as the business reaches peak operation, there will be a 60/40 split where 40 percent of the incoming material will come from Bennett.
Material that enters the facility is loaded onto a vibratory fingerscreen and moves up an incline belt to a 7-station picking line.
“Our recyclables are then hand sorted by 14 employees, and those materials are deposited into bunkers below,” says Giordano. Material 2 inches and smaller that falls through the vibrating screen is first run under a cross-belt magnet before exiting the building into an enclosed area where it is deposited into a truck and used as alternative daily cover at a local landfill. Giordano estimates Bennett is diverting between 70-80 percent of its incoming material from the landfill. He estimates Bennett will divert 10,000 tons from the landfill and into recycling markets in its first year of operation.
Finding qualified, hard-working and dependable employees is one of the biggest challenges any employer faces. When Fruitland, Md.-based Bennett Construction started receiving applications for its new C&D recycling facility, it received nearly 250 applications. Out of all those applications there was one hand-written resume from a man named Bruce Shriever who was in the prerelease program at Eastern Correctional Institute, Westover, Md.
Bennett Construction General Manager Bruce Giordano recalls, “His qualifications were impeccable and we actually felt him to be more qualified than what we were looking for, so we laid it aside.”
After rounds of what Giordano describes as “less than promising interviews,” he says, “We felt it would be wise to give him [Shriever] a chance and see where it led.”
Giordano says after meeting Shriever, the company decided he would make a good floor spotter. But Shriever continued to stand out.
“He took ownership of the operation and now supervises the facility along with the workers,” Giordano reports.
Shriever has also recommended several other people from the program. Giordano says, “Not one of them has been a disappointment. They are extremely happy to be working and earn every dime they make while here.”
Giordano emphasizes that employees hired from the prerelease program are compensated at the same level of pay as any other employee.
“If we can play a part in helping people get back on their feet by giving them the opportunity to work and provide for their families as well as retain dignity and self-respect, then hopefully they will carry that with them when they are released and either move on in life or choose to settle here and work,” Giordano says.
Locally, Giordano says there are strong recycling markets for OCC, paper, metals, wood waste, concrete and brick/masonry. Most recently it has been able to find a market for vinyl siding and is developing relationships to move its drywall, carpet, e-scrap, plastic and asphalt shingles into secondary markets.
Building business relationships is something Giordano says he takes seriously. “I think it is important to create a wealth of contacts and always be honest in all your business dealings and know when it’s best to walk away from a bad deal.”
Giordano wants to see the recycling facility grow, but doesn’t want to get to far ahead of himself.
“Growth is always good, but I believe it should be controlled,” he says. “We need to ensure that this facility gets the rhythm it needs to stand on its own first, but I do enjoy looking at the long term.”
In looking at the long term, Giordano says Bennett is working on entering the residential route business. “I think it is a distinct possibility that one day we may be able to open a solid MRF (material recovery facility) and hopefully combine the two operations.”
In His Blood
Bruce Giordano began his career with Fruitland, Md.-based Bennett Construction more than 20 years ago. He graduated college with an architectural degree but says he discovered his love of garbage the first time he pulled a can of trash into a roll-off truck.
“From there, I just couldn’t wait to get into the commercial and front-end collection and then move into waste processing,” he says.
Giordano, who now serves as general manager for Bennett Construction and its new C&D processing facility, says he believes his passion for the waste and recycling industry is in his blood. He says he recently learned that both his great-grandfather and father were listed in an old Newark, N.J. census as rag peddlers and junk dealers.
Giordano admits it is not always easy to make it in the waste and recycling business. “You must be willing to take on all the obstacles that will be thrown at you head-on when working to make your way in this industry,” he advises.
The author is managing editor of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.