Oujournalist’s Blog

The blog of a freelancing journalist in Arizona

Commercial recycling operation helps hotels July 1, 2011

Filed under: green — Candace Hughes @ 5:47 pm

Burgis Envirolutions LLC

A passion about improving the environment is behind a Tempe-based company helping businesses such as hotels save money by recommending equipment to reduce the amount of trash taken to landfills.

“We work in partnership with the trash hauler and/or recycler, making things profitable and efficient for all parties concerned,” said Laura Burgis, principal of the company. Laura and husband Rick Burgis, the founder and chief technology officer, jump-started their idea after Rick was previously involved in a similar business.

Some of their clients include the newest Whole Foods markets in Scottsdale, which purchased a cardboard compactor under their recommendation. Trudye Webb, store team leader at 7111 E. Mayo Blvd., put the unit in service one week before the store opened in February.

“We did this hoping to be more economical as well as having a cleaner method and we partner with Arizona Pulp and Paper for the pick up,” Webb said.

Other organizations using the service include the new Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, which used Envirolutions’ ability to analyze the situation, provide design expertise and install the equipment correctly under a tight schedule in a small space, Laura Burgis said.

“While it’s too soon to see if there is a savings in trash hauling, it’s a long term smart equipment choice due to the durability,” she added.

The Westin Kierland Resort purchased a multi-chamber baler at the recommendation of Envirolutions to efficiently recycle bottles and cans generated by a hotel that previously had been putting these items in the trash, Burgis said. The Wyndham Buttes Resort also is one of the expanding company’s 50 clients.

In addition, the Aramark Lake Powell Resort and Marina relied on the company to suggest a baler and plastic bottle perforator which made the facility into a recycling center.

“With the system they now have a means of recycling the loads of bottles left behind by the visitors to the resort and lake. They collect the zillions of bottles and cans and cardboard from all over the resort and bring them to their recycling facility. In addition the public can bring stuff to their center,” Burgis added.

“I’m surprised by how much fun it is to run my own business. It’s very liberating and quite enjoyable,” said Burgis, who was the chief executive officer of the Pat Tillman Foundation before opening the business in February.

Laura Burgis works about 30 hours weekly while her husband works about 80 hours weekly. “I don’t miss my son’s soccer games and we don’t miss eating dinner together as a family,” emphasized Burgis, who also was assistant dean of Arizona State University’s School of Business.

A hardship is that there are pros and cons to a husband and wife being business partners, Burgis said. Sacrifices include leaving behind a job with a comprehensive benefit package and a big staff for delegating assignments, she added.

They are building their business from cash flow instead of borrowing to reduce stress. “Being fiscally conservative is better,” she said. They have a line of credit but have decided not to use it.

At a time when other businesses are laying off employees, we have seen nothing but a tremendous increase,” said Burgis, adding that they have four full-time and four part-time employees and are now interviewing to add eight to 10 employees by the first quarter of 2009.