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Hi-Tec Recycling, Richmond

Urban Mining & Finding New Use for Old Tech

The company, which was established in 2003, collects e-waste products, including computers and monitors, televisions, radios, cell phones, microwave ovens, fax machines, cables and cords. The collection is free and the service area includes much of Northern California and as far south as Bakersfield.

The company got its start after gaining experience with Phone Fund, a fund-raising organization that collects used cell phones and either refurbishes or recycles the equipment.

Owner Jerry Shelfer was a former professional musician from Alabama who played guitar for more than 25 years. He would be the first to admit that he didn’t have much of a business background when he started his recycling business. “We just kind of grew organically,” he said. He sought help from the Contra Costa SBDC to get advice on potential expansion to a new location, negotiation strategies and budgeting analysis.

Jerry met with Contra Costa SBDC Business Advisor Randall Shores to discuss the topics of location, negotiation and budget analysis. Additionally, the advisor guided him on personnel issues and internal accounting numbers.

Hi-Tec Recycling has been on an upward trajectory since it began in 2003, the sales growth rate was 10 to 15 percent annually. For 2010 the sales growth rate hit 40 percent. The company obtained a facility in Richmond that is two times larger than the old plant, but with the same monthly rent. In addition to Jerry and Michelle, the firm has two full-time employees and one part-time employee.

Jerry calls himself an ‘urban miner.’ “I consider myself to be in the ‘green business’ and that part of the economy is growing. I want to be part of a business that’s good for the community.”

“(My SBDC business advisor) had sage advice and I used him as a sounding board on running my business. His guidance and expertise were very helpful.”

Hi-Tec Recycling
Jerry & Michelle Shelfer
Richmond, California