A Golden Valley business is celebrating a major milestone. Six years after opening, nonprofit electronics recycler Tech Dump has processed 20 million pounds of electronics.
While Tech Dump keeps old cell phones and computers out of the landfill, recycling is not the company's only purpose. It also provides jobs to people who face barriers to employment.
"We truly take junk and turn it into jobs," said Amanda LaGrange, CEO of Tech Dump.
Back in 2011, LaGrange would not have believed it was possible for Tech Dump to be in the position it is today.
"The fact that we were able to do what we did back then seems incredible," said LaGrange.
From their original Golden Valley warehouse, Tech Dump grew from a company of three people that recycled a small volume of old electronics for parts and materials in 2011 into a company of 54 people today that have processed a total of 20 million pounds of electronics either refurbishing them or recycling the gadgets.
Tech Dump now has multiple locations. It even spun off a retail brand, Tech Discounts, which sells refurbished electronics, such as laptops and computers, that often come from businesses after an equipment upgrade.
"We went from kind of a tiny organization that primarily worked with consumers, grandmas down the street, aunts and uncles, to now one of the largest electronic recyclers in the state," said LaGrange.
The growth of the company is directly connected to the growth of its people.
"It's nice to have a place that would give me a chance," said Tom Becicka, a Tech Dump employee.
The 52-year-old Becicka wipes hard drives clean of old data at Tech Dump while he rebuilds his own life. He's now nearly six years clean from drug addiction. Becicka said he feels a deep sense of gratitude to his employer.
"They gave me a job when I had a 15-year gap in my work history," said Becicka.
Hiring those who face barriers to employment is the mission of Tech Dump, and it celebrates when employees leave for better jobs.
"Our whole purpose is to provide an individual with the confidence and the work reference that they need to be successful outside of our organization," said LaGrange.
Becicka has four solid years of employment here, and he knows he will soon be ready to move on.
"I've got something positive to say about my life," said Becicka.
For Tech Dump, that's the most important milestone of all. Since 2011, Tech Dump has provided more than 320,000 hours of job training.
"The biggest success for us will always be the employees that we've had the honor of working with," said LaGrange.
Alexandra Renslo firstname.lastname@example.org
November 6, 2017