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Community-minded Valley Recycling, LLC takes stewardship seriously while growing its customer base

For nearly 120 years, the Northampton, Mass., property where Valley Recycling, LLC sits was used for trash collection. Originally a burn landfill, the property has gradually transitioned from a trash collection point into a material recycler. President and Owner Richard Pitts takes pride in transforming the property’s history and mitigating its environmental impact.

“We’ve paved over a lot of the property, which was mostly compacted trash, and now rely on monitoring wells to check on the water quality,” noted Pitts. “We’re the stewards for a landfill that’s been here for more than 100 years. It’s a cool responsibility, and one we take seriously.”

Pitts took over Valley Recycling in 2012 when his parent’s friends, the Duseau family, retired and sold him 51% of the company. He recognized that owning a recycling and material-handling facility would complement his roll-off trucking operation and believed he could grow both businesses together.

“A lot of the larger material waste-handling corporations gobbled up the smaller facilities in the area,” explained Pitts. “Purchasing Valley Recycling guaranteed our trucks would have a local place for disposal, and I could control our roll-off costs. I convinced most of the smaller dumpster haulers to bring their trash to our site instead of the corporate facilities, which put us in a solid position financially to start growing the recycling operation.”

Customers from a 35-mile radius rely on Valley Recycling for their municipal solid waste (MSW), construction demolition, asphalt and brick concrete rubble, as well as leaf and yard waste. The 23-employee operation processes 101,000 tons of material per year — triple the amount from when Pitts first took ownership.  

“This started as a mom and pop business, and we’re pushing that to the next level,” he said. “We do a lot with the big haulers, but we’re also perfectly located for many smaller haulers. Many customers wouldn’t have a place to go if we shut down, because we take almost anything, except hazardous materials.” 

Serving the community is important to Valley Recycling.

“At our residential drop-off area, we have a stand for customers to leave their returnable cans and bottles with the proceeds going to a non-profit cancer fund,” stated Pitts. “We also create a Valley Blend organic material from the leaf and yard waste that area landscapers and homeowners often prefer to use. We’re trying to help our community in as many ways as we can.”

Bulletproof Equipment

To kick sort the large quantity of material that comes through its facility, the firm relies on Komatsu equipment – a PC210LC-11 excavator and WA270-8 wheel loader. Valley Recycling also has a PC210LC-10 excavator that it uses to help manage material during high volume times. All three machines are outfitted with a waste handler package to increase efficiency.

“The WA270 collects all the material on the floor into a location where the PC210s can manually sort the MSW, demolition, scrap metal and mixed cardboard,” explained Pitts. “We prefer Komatsu equipment because our operators can run it 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week with minimal issues in one of the most challenging environments for a machine. There’s no question that the waste handler package on both the wheel loader and excavators adds a ton of value and hours of trouble-free ownership so that our operators can concentrate on moving the product along the recycling process.”

In addition to the waste packages, Pitts added self-lubricating systems to the new excavator and wheel loader.

“Adding a self-lube system is hands down the only way to go because it keeps the machine lubricated the whole time it’s running,” shared Pitts. “I don’t want my operators greasing the machines; I want them working. I’ll never buy a new machine again without one.”

All three Komatsu machines serve as upgraded replacements for a competitive brand of equipment.

“We bought our first PC210 in 2015, and it was as advertised,” stated Pitts. “The one thing I noticed right away compared to other machinery is the efficiency of the cooling system. The waste handler package, auto-reversing fan, diameter of the orifices going through the air charge and the radiators all contribute to keeping the machine cool and improving its operational efficiency.

“After we put about 8,000 hours on the original PC210, we decided to add the Dash 11 model in 2019 and then replaced an older wheel loader with the WA270 in mid-2020,” continued Pitts. “So far, everything has been fantastic. The equipment is bulletproof.”

Today’s operator expects to stay comfortable when running equipment. Both the WA270 and PC210 offer an ergonomic cab that keeps the operator cool and puts the machine’s controls at their fingertips.

“We want our operators to be in a quality machine that keeps them comfortable and safe while working all day,” said Pitts. “With 300 tons coming in per day, we can’t afford to have machines go down. The Komatsu equipment allows us to keep the floor clean and safe and the operators happy.”

Partner from beginning

Adding the right size equipment to its operation was paramount for Valley Recycling. It needed an excavator that could handle the material without taking up too much space, and a wheel loader with the maneuverability to get around the facility with enough power to push any pile on the floor. To find the right machines, Pitts worked closely with C.N. Wood and the sales team.

“C.N. Wood has been a partner from the beginning,” stated Pitts. “After taking over Valley Recycling, we worked with them to finance our first new machine. And, if I have any questions about the equipment, I can reach out to the sales team and get an answer quickly.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted typical business interactions, Pitts was concerned about getting replacement parts for damaged equipment.

“One of our operators had a mishap with the wheel loader to the point where we needed to replace a couple of parts,” recalled Pitts. “I wasn’t sure if I would be able to service the machine due to COVID. When I called the parts and service department, I was still able to get the parts overnighted.

“C.N. Wood took care of me with urgency, which I appreciated,” continued Pitts. “Little details like that are why we choose to partner with them.”

Pitts utilizes Komatsu Care, a complimentary factory-scheduled maintenance program for the first three years or 2,000 hours of a machine’s life.

“There’s no drama with Komatsu Care,” said Pitts. “C.N. Wood tracks when our machines need maintenance and contact us to set up a time to service the equipment when it won’t affect our operation. It’s one less thing I have to worry about.”

Next Generation

Before building his roll-off company and purchasing Valley Recycling, Pitts wanted nothing to do with the trash industry. The opposite could be said for his son, Garret.

“I’m hoping someday I can sit at my office on the beach while my son runs the show,” joked Pitts. “He’s 28 years old and can already do everything around the facility. From operating the equipment to managing the staff, he’s well-versed on the entire process.”

Adding customers and growing the operation remains the short-term focus for Pitts.

“We want to build from our current tonnage per day, and there’s a right way to do it,” he said. “We need to get proper permitting first and make sure our facility can handle the increased amount of material. Once we do that, we’ll look to add 150 to 200 tons per day.

“In order to reach our goal, we want to stay invested in the community,” continued Pitts. “There are quite a few home renovation and DIY projects happening, which creates a lot of waste. We want all of our customers to know that we’re here and this is the place to take their material.”

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