By MICHELLE MINSTRELL
Tucked back next to the railroad tracks in rural Berryville, Virginia, is an older warehouse complex which houses a business bustling with the magic of re-use, C2 Management.
On Saturday, September 23, the Leaders in Energy Circular Economy Working Group visited the C2 Management facility for a tour of their impressive operation.
Dealing predominantly with transactions from businesses or governments, C2’s building is bland and unassuming from the outside, although small signs did point us to the right place. An employee on an electric cart met us in the parking area and directed us toward the meeting place. Upon entering the building, the use of the electric cart became clear. C2’s operation has 190,000 square feet in their main warehouse and another 100,000 square feet in a nearby contracted space, plus a few items stored outside that simply don’t fit in the building. Billed as an “Asset Recovery” company, C2 handles just about any goods that a business or government may need to retire: computers, monitors, TVs, electronics, electrical appliances (“anything with a cord”), lab equipment, testing equipment, medical equipment, restaurant equipment, refrigeration units, furnishings, supplies, batteries, lighting, heavy equipment, etc., whole or in part- you name it. Their motto is “We’ll C2 it!” Embodying Circular Economy to the core, the name “C2 Management” stands for “cradle-to-cradle,” endeavoring to put unused/unwanted items right back to their original use somewhere else.
Once inside, we were welcomed by HR Specialist, Mr. James Johnson. C2’s President, Mr. Chris Hansen, started the business back in 1998 with government surplus resale activities. Over the last 20 years, C2 has grown, primarily through word-of-mouth advertising, to employ a staff of 45 personnel sprinkled throughout the warehouse in various tasks. Although it would have been amazing to see the operation in progress, our Saturday tour allowed us to view the whole facility without compromising the work or safety of employees or attendees, as their normal public business hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 3:30pm. Turns out, they also accept drop off of equipment from the public, some with a small fee based on the item(s).
Mr. Tim Reichert, CEO of Energy Sherlock, serves as Executive Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for C2 and provided an overview of C2’s history and operations, acting as tour guide and describing the stages that items go through once they arrive on site.
Mr. Reichert works with representatives of corporations, industry, local and federal government agencies, educational and healthcare campuses, and others to identify assets no longer needed. C2 services are available nation-wide, but they end up doing a lot of business within an hour or so of the Clarke County facility, working with local customers such as DOD, GSA, NIH, Fairfax County Schools, and Loudoun County. Depending on the types of items available, C2 may accept at no charge, purchase, or even revenue-share with the customer when a clear refurbish and resale path can be identified- quite a win-win over having to pay for disposal and just creating e-junk. They start by offering an on-site inspection and free appraisal of the unused assets and are even able to provide the services of uninstalling, packing, and shipping/transport from the customer site to the C2 warehouse, relieving the customer of the hassles associated with removal.
Once items arrive at the C2 facility, the first stop is shipping/receiving, all handled by only three staff, where five tractor-trailer bays receive inbound items and five bays are available for used assets being sent to a buyer or market. In less than a week, these employees triage all the inbound items, deciding whether they might be viable for salvage and resale/reuse, through further testing, or whether they need to be properly recycled instead.
C2 admits it is difficult to recruit for these positions, as there are not many operations like theirs, where almost anything could come through the door for assessment. They rely on general technological knowledge skills and a can-do inquisitive attitude, providing hands-on training to identify potentially valuable items in a shipment.
Next, those items slated for possible reuse are further screened, tested, and researched for confirmation of likely value. Once operability is validated, the items are then cleaned up to a presentable appearance, as many have accumulated dust while awaiting removal from their former home. When they are in their best shape, they head to the photography station, where various pictures are taken of each individual item that will be posted in online auctions, such as through C2’s eBay store (www.ebay.com/str/tryc2). When sold via eBay, C2 ships the individual items to the buyer.
Earlier this year, C2 began experimenting with live weekday online auctions, held monthly at their warehouse. They post items, or lots of items, descriptions, and photos on line via their website, then offer two days of on-site viewing before the online auction begins. Buyers have three days to pick up or arrange removal of their purchase. Sometimes C2 even manages an auction of an asset directly from the customer site, for things which may be cumbersome to remove and ship to C2 and are readily reusable as is, such as large installed equipment like generators. This saves a step, and resources, in interim transportation.
With a full mechanic shop on site, C2 is equipped to overhaul, repair, and refurbish larger items and vehicles as well, such as construction machinery and various heavy equipment, like forklifts, backhoes, gators, firetrucks, etc., which is why some large item are stored outside.
Amazingly, C2 provides management and tracking of the assets to be reclaimed beginning from the original location and continuing through to new owner or recycling. Their custom inventory tracking software is constantly being revised and updated, to detail a unique asset ID number, details about the item model, any original item serial number, previous owner, and subsequent purchaser. In one unique case, the previous owner realized that they needed to recover the items that had been sent to C2 for processing, and through their tracking, C2 was able to retrieve all of them from the new purchasers. In addition, this inventory system allows C2 to recognize how long an item has been in their possession and consider employing additional marketing, price adjustment, or alternate solution.
Occasionally, an asset may not be suitable for reuse and resale, due to damage, inoperability, significant obsolescence, or other factors. If so, their first attempt will be to part-out these items to provide replacement pieces for repair of others’ similar equipment. If repair and reuse prove not to be an option, C2 responsibly recycles the remainder. Assisting them in this function are an onsite bailer for cardboard or plastics and a huge 1,000lb crusher which makes consolidated hay-bale-sized “bricks” out of large metal items, allowing them to ship out significant weight to volume ratio for recycling.
C2 confirmed that their initial markets for recycled materials are domestic, whereas some secondary markets do utilize certain international companies as destination. C2 is a certified R2 Responsible Recycler, in addition to holding ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications and a GSA Schedule contract. When asked if there was anything they do not take, Mr. Reichert had to think hard, and only came up with an answer of “items which were more difficult to handle”, such as an example of the carpeting which was installed in a facility that was being gutted and refurbished, while C2 was removing all other assets, equipment, machinery, and furnishings already. But that doesn’t mean they won’t research and try to find a workable reuse or recycling solution for a hard-to-handle asset.
Lastly, Compliance Manager Megan Shelton escorted us into the secure data wiping and data destruction area, locked and caged from the rest of the warehouse (no photos were allowed here). Three special C2 staff operate a bank of data wiping stations, equipped with cords to connect to various types of machines and capable of securely removing and deleting 100% of the data from up to 96 similar machines simultaneously. If product destruction is desired by the customer, C2 can shred standard hard drives to ¾” and solid state hard drives down to 2mm, processing over 600 drives per hour and destroying any sized product. The customer can access an online certificate of destruction and can even receive a video of their products entering the shredder as further proof. After data removal, like equipment is palletized in lots for resale.
Another unique service C2 provides, and takes great pride in, includes a mobile asset shredding truck/trailer, eliminating the need to transport items to the C2 warehouse. They have two NAID-certified mobile units that can be contracted to arrive on-site and take care of client data destruction and sanitization needs. With this service, detailed certification reports and video recordings are available for the client, once the shred job has been completed.
C2 handles approximately seven million pounds of items per year and boasts an impressive rate of less than 1% needing landfill or waste-to-energy disposal instead of resale, reuse, or recycling, and counts over 200,000 unique buyers of their goods. Sometimes items are made available to non-profit or faith-based organizations and facilities, such as medical equipment, providing a much-needed upgrade to older equipment at a bargain price. C2 Management offers a 30-day warranty on any item purchased from them and touts a less-than 1% return rate on refurbished goods. Next time an organization you are involved with has assets it no longer needs, or is interested in acquiring additional items, consider working with C2 Management to “close the loop” and create your own Circular Economy transaction. Besides generating value and keeping items from being disposed unnecessarily, your transaction may provide waste reduction/reuse credits such as in the LEED rating system or USGBC TRUE Zero Waste certification.
Since forming earlier this year, the Leaders in Energy Circular Economy Working Group has been meeting approximately monthly, usually on the fourth Wednesday of the month; the Saturday tour was a departure from this schedule to accommodate this opportunity. The upcoming meeting schedule is being considered due to impending holidays, so be sure to check the website calendar for more information on the next meetings.
Michelle Minstrell has over 20 years of professional experience in recycling and solid waste management in addition to more than 25 years of community involvement in recycling. Her professional experience spans the U.S. from Washington State to North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland, performing projects for clients in various areas of the country, and surveying waste and recycling operations on visits to other countries such as Canada, Japan, Australia, and Fiji.