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COUNTY RECYCLING: Collection contract delivers jobs, revenue for county

March 8, 2013

Heather Burns (front) and Phyllis Bueker sort plastic, paper and cans at Whitley Environmental Thursday afternoon. Post & Mail photo / Nicole Ott

COLUMBIA CITY — Recycling is good for the planet, but it is also good for the economy.

When the Whitley County Solid Waste Management District was in search of a new contract for recycling collection, Dwayne Knott, of Columbia City, saw it as an opportunity to build a business.

“At the time, research showed cardboard was bringing in $110,000,” Knott said. “I saw that as a business opportunity.”

Knott formed Whitley Environmental and brought on his long-time friend, Steve Smith, of South Whitley, as a partner.

Promoting the new business to the solid waste district’s board was an up-hill challenge, but Knott had some unlikely supporters in his corner.

Kenneth Himes, from Himco Waste-Away Service, Inc. in Elkhart, had offered the board a competing bid for the county’s recycling service contract.

In the end, Himes’ rates were high and knocked the company out of the running. However, that didn’t stop Himes from showing up at one of the board meetings to lobby on behalf of Knott.

“When he showed up I was a bit nervous,” Knott said. “But he told the board that they should believe in us. He told them that his grandfather had started his company out of nothing and if it wasn’t for people believing in him back then, they wouldn’t have a business to speak of.”

Himes assured the board that if Knott and Smith were not able to acquire the trucks needed to pick up the recyclables, Himco had a fleet they could loan the pair until they could purchase their own.

“I was shocked.” said Knott. “You don’t see that kind of thing in business today.”

The board did approve the contract with Whitley Environmental and Solid Waste Management District Director Jorell Tucker said it was the opportunity to keep the business within the county that was a bonus for Knott and Smith.

To read the rest of this story, see the March 8 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.

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