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Suggestions for Startup Manufacturing Businesses

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
Does anyone have any ideas to share on types of businesses and/or products that might prove successful today, given the current economic climate?

In Seattle.....residential construction definitely. My side deal while owning the machine shop was residential rentals. When I sold the machine shop we began upgrading the rentals. Now in retirement my son and I have a 4 employee construction business. It'd be a 10 employee business if we could find more workers (who are willing to work). We start new guys at $20/hr, top guy makes $45/hr. We've had the best luck with Hispanics, they still think this country is the land of opportunity. We just lost a 10 year employee (Mexican) who started his own business.

I don't know what this country would do without immigrants. On a house we're building now the roofers, plumbing & heating, dry wall and painting sub-contractors are all Hispanics. We have history with all of them which is good because it's near to impossible to find subs these days. The electrician is the only non-immigrant on the project.

And, in case you're wondering, we do verify every one we hire is in this country legally.
 

adammil1

Titanium
Joined
Mar 12, 2001
Location
New Haven, CT
Does anyone have any ideas to share on types of businesses and/or products that might prove successful today, given the current economic climate?
Sure I think 3yrs back the Chinese government banned the import and stopped buying all of America's recycled plastics.

What most people don't realize is that most of your municipal recycling plastic was all being sold to China where they would process/reuse it. The Chinese were paying such high prices for the materials and had so much empty return container space on the ships that a domestic industry never really took off or was able to process it.

Now with China out of the picture a lot of that stuff has nowhere to go and is going to landfills from what the various videos I have seen on YouTube.

I think there has to be a large opportunity for someone to repurpose recycled plastic into new product. I gather it's really far too much effort to turn that old Ketchup bottle into a new one so you need a lower grade non food product to create with all that scrap.

Years back I saw plastic railroad ties the things seem to be a great market for all that plastic waste. They never rot and last forever and the railroads are willing to pay a premium for them over wood due to their longevity.

Now if only I had a few million dollars in startup capital and knew what it takes to take municipal scrap plastics and turn them into new products.

Does this qualify for the type of opportunity you're looking for?

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mrplasma

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
That's the right kind of thinking, in my opinion. As you have said, it would take someone with the necessary knowledge and financial resources.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Sure I think 3yrs back the Chinese government banned the import and stopped buying all of America's recycled plastics.

What most people don't realize is that most of your municipal recycling plastic was all being sold to China where they would process/reuse it. The Chinese were paying such high prices for the materials and had so much empty return container space on the ships that a domestic industry never really took off or was able to process it.

Now with China out of the picture a lot of that stuff has nowhere to go and is going to landfills from what the various videos I have seen on YouTube.

I think there has to be a large opportunity for someone to repurpose recycled plastic into new product. I gather it's really far too much effort to turn that old Ketchup bottle into a new one so you need a lower grade non food product to create with all that scrap.

Years back I saw plastic railroad ties the things seem to be a great market for all that plastic waste. They never rot and last forever and the railroads are willing to pay a premium for them over wood due to their longevity.

Now if only I had a few million dollars in startup capital and knew what it takes to take municipal scrap plastics and turn them into new products.

Does this qualify for the type of opportunity you're looking for?

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That's exactly the point of this open source project-

A Big Bang for Plastic Recycling
 

mrplasma

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 25, 2020
I see non technical people rushing in.....and making "bad product".

I agree - It would be tough for someone to suddenly pick up the necessary skills for something like this just because it looks potentially profitable. Whenever a high-tech opportunity appears on the horizon, there are likely some people out there who, by chance, already have the particular skill set necessary to pursue it. They are the ones most likely to succeed with it.
 

adammil1

Titanium
Joined
Mar 12, 2001
Location
New Haven, CT
That's exactly the point of this open source project-

A Big Bang for Plastic Recycling

That's pretty neat and some of that artwork looks great but seems impractical for the real issue at hand. Did you watch the promo video? They want nice clean washed plastic, with paper labels removed. Where are you getting that at any scale?

The real opportunity seems to be figuring out how to take bales by the truck load from the municipal plants and quickly process them into a real product and making lots of it since a product made from recycled junk probably isn't going to fetch that high of a premium.

I wonder how clean and well sorted those bales really are? I always wonder when I toss that ketchup bottle in the bin with a little still inside how and when does it get cleaned prior to reuse? At the sorting plant or at the factory who buys the scrap.

I guess the question is how does a little guy who recognizes a great opportunity figure out how to jump into one and get something working with little knowledge or experience in the industry? Where do you go to learn a whole new industry?


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Mcgyver

Diamond
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Location
Toronto
I guess the question is how does a little guy who recognizes a great opportunity figure out how to jump into one and get something working with little knowledge or experience in the industry?

Mostly, it doesn't happen and the odds of getting financed are about zero - if you have little knowledge or experience in an industry. I spent a bunch of time in corporate finance; very few deals are worth your time running around with (less than 5%) and fewer still ever get financed. So a key success factor is being able to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff - how to pick the winners. One thing a winner has to have is deep domain knowledge. Every industry has aspects that is like crossing a mine field, and without that deep domain knowledge you're not going get across it in one piece.

Almost all back-able innovations come from some guy who's been in a industry for decades and has some great new idea. Its never an imagined great idea in some field from a guy who knows little to nothing about the area. Those guys don't know enough to know why it isn't a good idea, and secondly, they have no credibility in the space so no one will believe their claim its a great idea

Where do you go to learn a whole new industry?

Lets say I'm wrong and you've got the best idea ever, and its outside of your field. You either commit, quit your job, start working in that industry etc, or you seek out and get deep domain knowledge on your team - someone from the industry. Not just "from", but has lots of credibility and hopefully a bit of star power - when they talk, others listen. Same old same old....if you can't build it, buy it.


** one my accounting profs'....."everyone in the country has great ideas and is a brilliant strategist, but its execution that counts". If you got the best idea ever, figure it out! Do what it ever it takes. Easy? hell no, that's why so few break through.

*** I regularly sell roll off containers to waste firms hauling from the recycling centre to the land fill. There's certainly an endless supply of plastic and no one seems to be doing anything with it now.....so yeah, big opportunity. Ask and answer why, then come up with workable alternative. (The cynical part of me (most of me) thinks the recycling industry is the "politician's making people feel good about themselves" industry. If you really want us to ease up on the planet and end up with us having a better lifestyle to boot, promote policies that will slow, then stop and reverse population growth, especially in high consumption nations)
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
That's pretty neat and some of that artwork looks great but seems impractical for the real issue at hand. Did you watch the promo video? They want nice clean washed plastic, with paper labels removed. Where are you getting that at any scale?

The real opportunity seems to be figuring out how to take bales by the truck load from the municipal plants and quickly process them into a real product and making lots of it since a product made from recycled junk probably isn't going to fetch that high of a premium.

I wonder how clean and well sorted those bales really are? I always wonder when I toss that ketchup bottle in the bin with a little still inside how and when does it get cleaned prior to reuse? At the sorting plant or at the factory who buys the scrap.

I guess the question is how does a little guy who recognizes a great opportunity figure out how to jump into one and get something working with little knowledge or experience in the industry? Where do you go to learn a whole new industry?


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I heard of a place down near Pizzaborg doing just that, IIRC now gone.

The person explaining it went down there, and wanted some simple parts made, he was not a
"Plastics person" by any means, nor even a machinist. But he described what he saw pretty good.

Small operation, melted most anything, extruded into fence posts.
Very DIY, not very efficient.

I saw a sample, it was horrible from a molding standpoint.
Segregation in the center, hollows, air bubbles, etc.
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
Over the years working in prototyping and product development I've come to believe the old saying "ideas are a dime a dozen".
 

adamm

Cast Iron
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Location
Kingston, ON
I wonder how clean and well sorted those bales really are? I always wonder when I toss that ketchup bottle in the bin with a little still inside how and when does it get cleaned prior to reuse? At the sorting plant or at the factory who buys the scrap.

I suspect that no-one does much if any label/debris removal, and that is why most plastics are going to the land fill now that China won't take them.

With metals recycling, there is an efficient way to separate the junk from the metal. Once the metal melts, anything stuck to it has burnt off, and the ash is now floating on top.

With plastics, the melt temp is in a range that common stuff stuck to plastic (paper, glue, food, etc) doesn't melt or burn. I don't think there is a good way to separate stuff stuck to plastic. I suspect most of the plastic actually recycled is hand-sort, where anything that looks dirty is tossed. The rest is probably ground, washed with soap, and then separated in a water bath for sink/float separation of debris.

I'm curious how Coke goes about getting their supply of plastic for their "post-consumer" plastic bottles.
 

adammil1

Titanium
Joined
Mar 12, 2001
Location
New Haven, CT
I'm curious how Coke goes about getting their supply of plastic for their "post-consumer" plastic bottles.

I bet it comes from the machines in the supermarkets in the bottle deposit states like here in Connecticut. There at least you know the plastic going into the bottle plastic was bottle plastic to begin with. I wonder how they handle the different colors like green vs brown, vs clear plastic.

It is the stuff that I left out at the curb that I really wonder about that I know is getting landfilled all over the place. The tomato sauce jar with a few teaspoons of tomato sauce still in it, same thing for the ketchup container, the mayo container. Add to that that there may be 3 types of other plastics mixed in there. I wonder if it can all be melted together into some sort of product that has a wider tolerance in the material properties. As I mentioned before I am pretty sure they make railroad ties out of municipal waste as well as Trex and some of the other composite plastics that are out there...

If I had more free time I would be tempted to try to play around with some of the stuff and see what can be done with it on a small scale.

I see one company that advertises in Live Steam magazine (ride on model trains) who makes plastic ties for model trains. Seems like that would be part of the trick to starting such a company. Find a less demanding smaller scale market (AKA hobbyists) to figure things out and buildout your processes. Learn what you are doing there before you try to play in the big leagues with the likes of trying to supply ties to the likes of Union Pacific. Other thoughts maybe find other products like flower pots or some other small stuff that you could really refine a process on prior to scaling way up.
 








 
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