Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
Years in Business: 10+ years
Product/Service: Grease trap recycling
NCIFund Role: Business loan
Sector: Recycling
Impact: Job creation, water quality, renewable energy


The Opportunity

Shortly after graduating with a degree from the University of Virginia’s economics program, Gehrken recognized an untapped economic opportunity in grease recycling. Gehrken put together a plan to provide companies that pump grease traps in North Carolina’s Research Triangle with an affordable and environmentally responsible way to dispose of their waste.  Unfortunately, transportation costs can make grease trap waste collection inherently unprofitable. As the closest disposal sites were 30 miles away, some local businesses would resort to illegally dumping their waste into sanitary sewers. 

By heating and re-processing used cooking oil, GreaseCycle could give this “yellow grease” a second life by selling it to biodiesel and animal feed manufacturers. Grease trap waste, in turn, could be recycled as boiler fuel or mixed with organics to form compost.

NCIFund provided GreaseCycle with a loan to purchase equipment and construct a grease trap waste processing facility at an industrial site in Raleigh, NC. The processing plant not only expedites the recycling process but gives GreaseCycle and its competitors an affordable alternative to transporting the waste significant distances for disposal.

In 2015, we refinanced and increased GreaseCycle’s original loan to help the company purchase its property and continue to grow.

 

Impact 

Now, instead of being both economically and environmentally problematic, grease trap waste in Central North Carolina is responsibly recycled for renewable energy and compost. What’s more, GreaseCycle has created a systemic improvement in water quality protection for the Neuse River watershed and reduces sewer maintenance costs.

Just as importantly, GreaseCycle is a profitable and growing job creator.  At the time of our investment in 2012, the company had 4 employees who serviced 350 restaurants. Today, the business’ 18 employees service 1700 accounts across a 175-mile service area, from Mebane, NC to Wilmington, NC. GreaseCycle is committed to quality jobs for its team. Starting pay for drivers is $19 per hour, and the company offers a 3.5% 401k company match, health insurance benefits, paid time off, and a $130 per year boot stipend.

GreaseCycle was named to the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the United States and is a true triple bottom line success story: outsized environmental impact, quality employment, and financial success.

 

NCIFund has been a fantastic partner to Greasecycle and an instrumental part of our success story! They took a risk on us when traditional financing was not an option. I remember a bank loan officer telling me, “Sorry, Dylan. But your business is simply unbankable without three years of positive cashflow.” NCIF fills a much-needed gap in the market between angel/seed equity investors and traditional debt financing.
                                     - Dylan Gehrken, President, GreaseCycle

 

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To learn more about GreaseCycle, check out their website.