BioCycle September 2018
Randy Kreider and his father, Clyde Kreider, purchased a mulch business in Washington Boro, Pennsylvania (near Lancaster) in 1999. “It was a small bark mulch operation run by just the owner and his wife,” recalls Randy Kreider. “We came at this pretty new. I had been working in a tobacco stripping room; we used to raise a lot of tobacco, but that industry obviously got pretty hard. The previous owner of the mulch business, who we knew, was ready to retire and interested in selling his business. So we ended up buying it from him.”
As new owners of Kreider Mulch, Kreider and his father spent their first few years wrapping their heads around what was needed to keep the operation running. With no prior experience, every challenge was a new one that required overcoming the typical learning curve. But when it came time to make changes, their decisions have yielded solid long-term benefits. “About 10 years ago, we started taking tipping fees for green waste,” he explains. “That was a significant change because it dramatically increased the amount of material we had for mulching while adding revenue. And it allowed us to move beyond making only a bark mulch.”
The next step was adding a topsoil operation, which provided a complementary second product to sell alongside the mulch. “We then began a coloring operation so we could sell dyed mulches, which are now in high demand,” Kreider adds.
Cost Of Operations
About ten years ago, Kreider began evaluating the operational costs of their equipment in order to further increase efficiency of the business. All of the brush and green waste grinding had been performed in tub grinders. While effective at reduction, the tub grinders were not the most efficient pieces of equipment. “I can’t provide exact figures, but I work directly in the yard all spring, and saw firsthand how much time we were spending changing tips, the amount of fuel consumption, and the throughput,” he explains. “We wanted to find a better option.”
Kreider Mulch purchased a Doppstadt AK 630 horizontal high-speed grinder, with a free-swinging hammermill design in 2009. “The fuel efficiency is certainly a difference maker, but the swinging mill has to be the biggest advantage,” Kreider notes. “If any contamination or metal gets in, the grinder doesn’t self destruct. The solid mill can get really jammed up and take you down for a day easily. And comparatively, the wear time on the swinging hammermill tips is much longer than the fixed mill, so we’re changing tips much less frequently.”
The company uses a Doppstadt SM 720SA trommel to both screen product and colorize mulch. “When we purchased the trommel three years ago, we got two drums — one for sizing and the other a solid drum for our dye runs,” he adds. “Two employees can swap out those drums in 15 minutes, where before on our previous trommel, we would have to stop and wrap the drum in plastic to color, and that would take more than an hour. After a color run, it would be another two hours of time to remove that plastic and clean everything up. The time savings has been dramatic.”
The most recent equipment addition at Kreider Mulch is a Doppstadt DW 3060 slow-speed shredder. After outsourcing the grinding of larger logs and brush, Kreider rented the slow-speed shredder a few times before purchasing it to bring that process in house. “With the slow speed in our yard full time, we run everything through it that comes in, regardless of size,” he explains. “Before anything goes into a grinder, it first passes through the shredder. It allows us to be more efficient and responsive when grinding.”
Niki Vala is the Marketing Coordinator for Ecoverse.