By Alicia Cunningham | Oct 24, 2016
North Salt Lake, Utah
North Salt Lake, Utah
Industry: Industrial & Equipment, Contract Manufacturing
Product: Heavy equipment
Over six years ago, Brad Swenson and his partners saw a worldwide need to safely dispose of waste tires. As entrepreneurs, they were determined to find a way to address it.
“We fill a niche of solving the problem of waste tires,” Swenson says. “We do that by providing equipment which can shred down the tire and produce a valuable byproduct. We saw an opportunity to build a business on the model of creating value for the world. Creating something for the benefit of society is what drives us as a business.”
Eighty percent of Eco Green Equipment’s sales are outside of the United States, which correlates with the location and dilemma of waste tires.
“Developing countries have a bigger tire problem,” Swenson says. “They need to address it, but they have not had a way to do anything with it. That’s led to mosquito infestations and tire fires which can burn for years.”
When Swenson and his partners started the business, they decided they could not find customers the traditional way: going to a trade show, setting up a booth, and hoping for the best. They needed to reach international customers directly – and cheaply.
“We decided with our limited budget and size that we would only use online marketing to advertise our niche product,” Swenson says. Showing off their machines directly to customers is also unrealistic considering that each machine is 20 to 30 tons each. “We manufacture really big, heavy equipment,” Swenson says. In addition, each machine can be customized. “We customize machines for specific solutions. We have some parts that are standardized. We stock those and then build to order. Standardizing some pieces allows us to deliver our product to our customers much faster.”
Customization also allows Eco Green Equipment to manufacture a product that meets the end need of their customer. “The majority of our customers are private parties. We help them produce a valuable product that they can turn around and sell, depending on what they can produce and what is needed around them,” Swenson says.
While Eco Green Equipment started manufacturing in China, they have returned the manufacturing process back to Utah since 2012. “Our manufacturing story is the reverse of many others. We started in China but brought our manufacturing back to the United States. We discovered that we were able to manufacture everything here in Utah for a competitive price point. Manufacturing locally allows us to speed up our lead times and increase the quality of our product. Our overall customer experience and satisfaction went way up when we starting manufacturing in Utah.”
Individual components come from all over the world. Hydraulics are obtained in Europe, frames come from Asia, control panels and core technology come from Columbia. “We are a global operation. We serve customers globally and source globally. But everything is put together here in Utah. This is where we design and assemble everything,” Swenson says.
Challenges: New kid on the block. “We are one of the newest companies to disrupt this market,” says Swenson. “Our competitors have been around for 40 years. Breaking into a new market with highly engineered products – our customers want a tracking record of experience, usually five years. Finally we are at year six! It’s been a challenge.”
Opportunity: Expanding. “We are trying to expand by increasing our knowledge of what can be done with the rubber. What does the market need? We spend a lot of time and effort to educate ourselves about the end market so we can offer a turnkey solution. Shredded tires can be utilized as an alternative fuel, mixed into concretes to create earthquake resistant materials, produced into a thermal plastic, used in construction for speedbumps or on playgrounds for safety mats. Shredded tires are also used in the equestrian world to create more padding and reduce injuries to horses or as mats for cows to help keep them comfortable and increase milk supply. Once we understand who our customers can sell to, we provide the equipment and engineering. Our customers just have to push the start button,” Swenson says.
Need: Talent. “We need employees that are motivated and are taking on ownership. We want them to take pride in their work. When you can find these employees, it makes a huge difference.”