When it comes to “finding a need and filling it,” Martin Animal Bedding of Goshen, IN has done just that. By diverting post-manufacturing wood waste materials generated by Elkhart County RV and mobile home manufacturers from local landfills, Martin Animal Bedding turns the wood waste into highly desirable animal bedding material for hundreds of dairy and livestock producers in northwestern Indiana. More importantly, owner Kevin Martin, found a way to improve productivity when he recently acquired a Morbark 1600 electric tub grinder. It not only turns the wood waste into clean, premium animal bedding in one pass, but also does the job without the emissions and fuel costs associated with similar diesel-powered units.
Kevin recalls how he became aware of the possibility of using an electric grinder in place of a diesel-powered unit, when Jesse Garber of Columbus Equipment Company began calling on him about two years ago. Kevin was considering a relocation plan for his existing operation, because he was outgrowing his current facilities. Providence moved up his timetable however when a fire destroyed the facility in October 2013. It was at that time that Martin worked with Garber and design engineers at Morbark to develop a model 1600 electric tub grinder. He wanted one that would work effectively in the new building layout.
“We designed a building that will hold about two weeks of storage for our ground material,” says Kevin. “If at all possible, our customers need a dry product, so we keep the bedding material protected from the weather once it is ground. We can store up to about eight weeks of product, but that includes this building and five or six outside storage facilities that we have located around the area at customer’s farms or places where others can obtain the bulk material.”
Garber notes that the layout of the new operation also took into consideration several factors as a part of the design and approval process. He said that Martin wanted to make sure that their new location would consider things like water runoff, dust control and noise. He adds that they also wanted to provide for future expansion by making a facility that could take in the raw material and grind it all in a 24-hour period. In this way, there would be no build up of wood waste outside the building. This helps keep the arriving wood material dry, both for grinding and for end-user needs with regard to animal health. Moldy, damp bedding material is undesirable in the livestock industry.
Kevin says the design of this building evolved from the layout of the previous building. It has improvements to help make this structure more efficient and as safe as possible. He says he still has a few changes to make on the building to bring it up to where he would like to see it.
“The storage area of the building is 100 feet by 150 feet and the front section is 80 feet by 50 feet,” he says. “I didn’t want to make the incoming storage corner too large because when the wood is in that form, it’s worthless. So, our goal is to keep the wood in finished product form and to make sure the incoming wood gets ground every day.”
Electric tub is perfect for the job
Martin says that he and Garber came up with the Morbark 1600 electric tub grinder as the ideal grinder after looking at several models. He had seen electric units of horizontal design, but Martin prefers the tub grinder because of the way it handles his specific infeed material. With the power that the tub grinder generates, material is ground to the desired size in one pass. That makes Martin’s operation more profitable and efficient.
“With the proper horse power and the right screen combination, we can get the job done in one grinding,” says Kevin. “This 1600 is outfitted with two, 500 HP electric motors to power the mill and a 200 HP electric motor to power the hydraulics. That gives us a 1200 HP equivalent to a diesel-powered unit.”
“What I like about this electric grinder is how it is safer in these working conditions, and is less likely to be a fire hazard as a diesel-powered unit might be,” he adds. “One thing I have noticed is that my electric bill and equipment payment today, are less than my fuel bill was using the other grinder.”
Martin says he decided to have the grinder mounted on wheels rather than have it configured in a stationary design as most electric grinder applications. “After reading a cover feature in WHEN about an electric-powered horizontal grinder in Pennsylvania, I called the people and discussed what I was planning to do here, and they were very helpful in giving me ideas on how to do the job successfully. We clean around the machine three times per week.”
Originally, when Kevin Martin started his business, he served the customers that remained from his father Carl’s wood recycling business after Carl experienced a downturn in sales when the company that supplied him raw materials diverted their waste wood to the wood pellet industry. Kevin had worked with Carl, but had branched out on his own while returning to the family dairy operation.
Kevin returned to the wood recycling business in the fall of 2007 however, when local farmers asked Kevin to reconsider selling bedding material because a reliable source for quality animal bedding was no longer available. Between Kevin and Carl, there was still a sound customer base, so Kevin purchased a used grinder with the help of his cousin and started the business back up.
It didn’t take long for Kevin to find that he needed a reliable wood supply to meet his customer needs. Finally, he connected with Ken Himes, of the Waste-Away Group, owner of HIMCO and Recycling Works. Himes came to Kevin looking for an outlet for wood waste that was no longer going to the wood pellet manufacturer. Himes needed a place to recycle the wood and wanted to keep it out of local landfills.
Together they worked out a plan for Kevin to acquire two tub grinders to accommodate the wood waste that HIMCO and Recycling Works hauled. Kevin says he operated with that equipment until a fire in October 2013 that destroyed the newer unit, leaving the older tub grinder to use as a spare. The rest is history.
“Today, we have several of our family members involved in the business,” says Kevin. “My sons Weston, Jamin, Kendrick and Tristan all help around the operation, and my daughter Alyssa helps with the paperwork. My father, Carl, is still active and does some hauling for us as well.”
Martin says his business is built on trust. Over the years, he has worked with local livestock producers who have contracted to stockpile and house finished material on their farming operations in structures that keep the bedding material dry. Since many of the end-user customers are from the local Amish community, they will often pick up directly from these satellite facilities.
Columbus Equipment Company serves Indiana with excellence
For recyclers throughout Indiana, Jesse Garber is the face of Columbus Equipment Company (CEC). Jesse, himself a former landscaping and recycling business owner, says that because of his own personal experience, he is better able to serve his customers. That is because he knows what equipment can best suit their needs.
He says that when it comes to grinding and chipping equipment, Morbark equipment is unequalled in the industry based on his experience. “I’ve used some of the other brands available in today’s market,” says Jesse. “I believe that Morbark is the best equipment on the market.”
“This electric Morbark 1600 Tub Grinder is the largest unit of its kind that Morbark makes,” says Jesse. “Martin Animal Bedding took delivery on this unit in March of 2014. We went from an order for the equipment to taking delivery in about three months, once Kevin had his permitting in place for this building.”
Jesse says it is a pleasure doing business with customers like Kevin Martin because Columbus Equipment Company can service their equipment after the sale. Operating from 10 locations in Ohio, three of which (Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati) are on the western side of the state to serve Indiana and with 40 service trucks at the tech team’s disposal, Columbus Equipment Company is able to offer the kind of customer sales and service that recyclers need. Jesse says he came on board as Indiana’s Environmental Division Sales for Columbus Equipment Company in 2013 after selling his own business in 2010. Together, they are excited about the future of environmental equipment sales, especially Morbark sales. For more information on Columbus Equipment Company, visit their website at www.columbusequipment.com. Morbark information is available at www.morbark.com.