Waste Container Firm Grows With Partnership

March 24, 2008
| By Pete Daly |
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BYRON CENTER — Robert Grooters would like to see his new Grooters Green Group create new jobs in Greater Grand Rapids. It already has helped one small business do just that.

Sky-Tec, a manufacturing company on South Division near 76th Street, was incorporated in late 2005, and in March 2006, it began manufacturing steel bins for hauling companies that pick up trash and recycled materials. The steel bins range in size from one cubic yard to 96 cubic yards; the smaller ones are fitted with a hinged lid and can be mechanically lifted and dumped into a truck for transport to a landfill or recycling center. Most commercial and industrial businesses and construction sites have one or more such containers left at their sites by the waste hauling company that services it.

When Grooters Green Group started operations last fall, Grooters said he could only find one source of suitable bins — and it was out-of-state. Then Jeannie ten Haaf, general manager of Grooters Green Group waste pickup service, heard about Sky-Tec, which was right in the neighborhood.

Now, said Sky-Tec owner Eric Schuyler, "I build their cans for them exclusively."

This spring, Sky-Tec will be moving to a new plant at the Grooters property on 76th Street and U.S. 131, where Grooters Green Group has also started a recycling facility.

"The trash industry is just booming," said Schuyler. "Everybody talks about trash. Trash is everywhere. Only it's growing because everyone wants to recycle now."

"Everybody who moves trash in West Michigan, I build for," he said, adding there are "probably 43" companies he supplies metal containers to throughout the western half of the Lower Peninsula, from Kalamazoo to Mount Pleasant.

Schuyler, 34, is a graduate of Caledonia High School. He said his father was involved in metal manufacturing, including the King Can Corp. in Grand Rapids. But Schuyler opted at first for a career in law enforcement and was a police officer for about six years in Saugatuck. He said he decided he needed something more in his life, so he left police work to start a business. The metal manufacturing in his family background led to the start of Sky-Tec.

2007 was his first full year of production, with revenue of about $500,000 on sales of more than 2,000 containers. He has four employees working with him now but expects to hire three or four more people later this year.

"I want to start to diversify," said Schuyler, "but my main emphasis is building my cans. I can offer a lot more than just one thing."

His containers are built to order of 12-gauge hot-rolled steel. They hold thousands of pounds of material and get a lot of rough use in the lifting and dumping process but "last a long time. They're steel."

Another company for which Sky-Tec has built collection bins is PaperGator, according to Schuyler. It is a West Michigan recycling company that helps schools and other nonprofit organizations raise money by recycling waste paper.

Grooters is happy to have found a bin manufacturer for Grooters Green Group right in the Grand Rapids area, saving the company from the additional cost of purchasing bins in another state — and providing jobs for people in West Michigan.

Grooters said his long connections with industrial development provide Grooters Green Group with valuable contacts. The firm is actively looking for more companies to work with and listening to any ideas regarding recycling.

"We need their help — companies and industry in general," said Grooters. "We need their heart and soul in this."

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