Value of Visiting Vendors

December 4, 2023

Did you know that NRRA does Vendor Site Visits for the benefit of our members and vendors?

Vendor site visits are important for a number of reasons. First, we have a responsibility to vet our vendors to make sure they are recycling our members' material using environmentally sound practices. This vetting happens both when we bring on a new vendor and also periodically throughout our working relationship. Second, there is nothing better than visiting a vendor at their place of business and getting a tour to better understand and appreciate the complexity of their operations so we can help our members work better with our vendors! Lastly, meeting in person allows us to build relationships with our vendors and talk through how we can work together more and better, including talking through any issues that have arisen. 

This fall, we had the chance to visit four of our vendors: Cota's Propane, All Metals, New England Baling Wire, and Interstate Refrigerant Recovery, Inc (IRRI).

At Cota's Propane, our Member Services Manager, Brian Patnoe, and Executive Director, Reagan Bissonnette, visited their three different properties with Tim Cota and learned about how he started the business through the encouragement of a friend in 2011. Today Cota's has 15 employees. The company's primary business is delivering propane for heating homes, grills, and forklifts.

In recent years, they started recycling propane tanks when first approached by Chittenden, VT. Tim walked us through the process for handling NRRA member tanks. Tanks that are in bad shape are drained, devalved, and recycled as scrap metal. Tanks that can be reused are drained, cleaned, and spray painted. Then the tanks get new Cota's labels, new valves, are filled with propane, and resold.

Tanks are drained by hooking them up to tubes upside down to drain. After our tour, we met with additional staff to discuss logistics, ways members could improve the safety and organization of their tanks, and saw the wall map they use to map out NRRA routes. It was a great visit!

At All Metals, we met with Rob Towns. We learned about this family business and how Rob's father used to haul waste to Ohio by truck.

While scrap metal is their primary business, they also operate a full-service transfer station. We saw the bunker where NRRA's glass is consolidated. The recent floods in VT sent four of their waterproof cans floating down the river, which amazingly, they were able to recover!

At New England Baling Wire, we met with Dave Hamburger and Kathy LaMont. They provided some good info for us to look further into regarding baling wire. Charmingly, they both have large cork-boards in their offices with many years of NRRA conference badges on them!

At IRRI, we met with Tim Maloof and Rachel Harwood. First of all, Rachel is delightful and has an impressively pink office!

When the tanks come in that the techs have filled with refrigerant, Rachel takes a sample of each to see if they are pure or have been mixed with other freon types. She then evacuates the tanks and sends the freon through a machine that takes out any oil or contaminants.

Tim handles special jobs, like figuring out how to creatively extract freon from various commercial products. For example, he has a machine that simultaneously punches a hole into smaller canisters and creates a vacuum.

The key takeaway from all four site visits was the care our vendors have for our municipal members and their eagerness to continue to improve upon their services. We appreciate the opportunity to meet with them all and deepen our working relationships.