Catastrophic Events Among Daily Grind

by Diana Barnum
A thunderstorm and a tornado that traveled for 2.5 miles downed several hundred trees and destroyed buildings in a 100-mile wide path in Huron County, Ohio in 2000. The end result was massive devastation and a waste-handling dilemma.
Ever wonder how that waste is effectively handled in such catastrophic events? For a full-service landscape company like Barnes Nursery, Inc., not only is recycling yard waste among their daily grind, so is cleaning up after catastrophic events.
"We go in and help with trees," said Leslie Morgan, sales and marketing for Barnes Organic Marketing Division. "We have a lot of personnel and equipment to collect and haul trees to authorized locations and then process them. We’re fortunate."
What is the first thing a company should do after the event? "Absolutely make sure that there is an agreement," advised Morgan. "How do you get paid? Emergency management? It doesn’t happen over night like you think it would."
There are a lot of meetings, explanations and options. And many groups of contractors get involved. After the 2000 tornado, it took about three days to process and to get approval to begin what turned into about a two-week cleanup project.
The project team then set up schedules. Barnes’ crews coordinated routes – where pick up would occur and how often. Not everyone had accumulated debris at the curbs at the coordinated time. Nor did everyone have debris sorted. So crews worked in shifts similar to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Many residents placed calls directly to Barnes Nursery for help. But crews could only pick up at curbs, not on properties.
What’s it like when the job is completed? "It’s a monumental task that we’ve completed – a WOW!" shared Morgan. "You could see the before and after. It’s a good feeling. You definitely see your hard work."
Operations With 200 employees on staff, Barnes Nursery processes 10,000 tons per year or 30,000-40,000 cubic yards of incoming yard waste. And they can handle more. Composting/recycling is only one of Barnes’ eight divisions. It boasts 15 acres, all windrow style. The other seven divisions include landscape design – the hub of their business which includes landscape maintenance, tree service, liquid lawn care, retail garden and horticultural spray – for residential and commercial applications.
But Barnes Nursery never expected their operations to be on the scope that they are now. Their full-service landscape operations lead them into organic recycling back in the early 1990’s when Ohio yard waste was no longer allowed in landfills. They first developed a site plan, then purchased a Fecon horizontal feed grinder and later a John Deere KW straddle-style windrow turner. As volume increased, they upgraded their equipment.
Today’s lineup includes a Fecon BA 6000 Wood Hog. With a 40" x 62" feed opening to process tough material like tree trunks, this 75,000 lb. Hog reduces debris to controlled sizes through a wide range of particle sizing screens. The BA 6000 boasts a 62" hammermill with easily changed, reversible cutting tools, slanted sidewalls (of the large feed hopper) for easy feeding and a 55" wide primary discharge conveyor that can be elevated to a height of 18’.
Barnes Nursery contracts their BA Hog with grapple bucket out to municipalities and other landscapers. But bidding is getting to be competitive.
"New players in the business are not aware of costs and are charging significantly less," said Morgan. "They don’t realize the cost of repairs, parts and maintenance for their equipment." Key to Success Morgan shared a key to successful contract grinding. Networking. They network with organizations like the Ohio Compost Association, U.S. Compost Council and Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association.
"It’s a business built on relationships. People won’t truck materials more than about 20 miles," said Morgan.
Several clients discussed the relationships that they have built up with Barnes Nursery.
"We’ve been using Barnes Nursery for a few years," said Allen Boes, supervisor of streets and sanitation with the City of Sandusky. "They come in once a year, walk the pile and give a quote. Then they grind it and haul it away. They do a great job." Greenleaf Landscapes, Inc. of Marietta rents the services of Barnes Nursery to grind up their compost and churn it into windrow tunnels so that they can mix it in with their topsoil for their landscape crews. Service lasts for about one week a year. Barnes has serviced them for several years, including two visits during the year of the 2000 tornado.
"The bulk of our waste is old shrubbery, trees and limbs," said Dave Fleming, landscape manager of Greenleaf. "Barnes Nursery is self-contained. They don’t leave until they’re done. If they break down, they fix it onsite and move on. Their people are trained and carry extra parts to service their equipment in the field." Networking relationships are not all waste handling-related either. In conjunction with the Huron Parks and Recreation Department, Barnes Nursery sponsors Boppin’ on the Basin with Coca-Cola, offering free concerts during the summer.
"They’re good people. They sponsor a lot of Parks and Recs events like the 4th of July fireworks and concerts," said Municipal Boat Basin Facility Manager Doug Steinwart.
Barnes Nursery also operates two nursery and garden centers, one in Huron and the other in Port Clinton. They sell 25% wholesale and staff four full-time landscape designers for commercial and landscape projects. So there is a significant in-house need for their mulches, soil and compost.
For more information about networking and handling catastrophes as well as the daily grind, contact Barnes Nursery Inc. at 3511 Cleveland Rd W, Huron, OH 44839. Call: (800) 421-8722.