Ever think about what your favorite restaurant does with the oil they use to cook your French fries when they’re done using it? I didn’t think so. But three young entrepreneurs in the Chester County hamlet of Modena, Pa., have; they've thought long and hard in fact. So much so that they’ve built a thriving business, Waste Oil Recyclers, which collects and recycles used cooking oil.
Not only have they achieved commercial success, growing to approximately $8 million in revenues, 25 employees and more than 2,600 customers in four states, but they have created a model for environmental and social responsibility that most companies could only hope to achieve. Through the years they’ve stayed true to their roots, as the company traces its origins to the founders’ converting their cars to run on environmentally benign vegetable oil in place of hydrocarbon-‐generating gasoline. From these humble beginnings has grown their core business of turning cooking oil into biofuel for resale to a biodiesel manufacturer in western Pennsylvania. Among their clients are many local colleges and universities including West Chester University, major sports venues such as Lincoln Financial Field, Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park, Atlantic City casinos, and hundreds of restaurants, including Waste Oil Recycler’s oldest customer, the Whip Tavern in Coatesville.
Spend five minutes with Jim, Brendan and Rob and you’ll be struck by their unwavering commitment to a “green” approach to doing business, not just figuratively but literally. At their rambling, modest headquarters on the site of a former iron foundry outside Coatesville, they formed a property management business, MoGreena Foundry, to encourage other small, green-‐focused companies to set up shop there as well. Not only do they use the waste oil to power their eight service trucks and heat the plant in winter, they also use some of the waste generated from their process, along with potting soil generated from one of their tenants, Organic Mechanics, to help grow a wide variety of vegetables on site. As part of the MoGreena Garden Project, each Tuesday in growing season, employees help tend the garden from 4 p.m. until sunset as part of a partnership with the Chester County Food Bank, the Coatesville Youth Initiative and other locals businesses “to feed and educate our community about growing food and healthy eating.”
The founders are not sparing in their praise of Chester County SCORE’s role in the company’s development, crediting counselor Tom Thomas for being there for them in good times and bad. “From the beginning in 2006, Tom gave us hope and inspired confidence, and his guidance kept us on track,” said Jim Bricker, President. He noted that Thomas reviewed their business model and helped them fine-‐tune their business plan and strategic goals. They continue to work with Tom, meeting with him upon any major milestone to “gain some perspective.”
So the next time you eat at your favorite restaurant or take in a Phillies or Eagles game, just remember that all that leftover cooking oil will ultimately be recycled into biofuel, thanks to a certain company in tiny Modena, Pa., that has become yet another Chester County SCORE success story.