Serving solid waste and recycling markets, Ace Equipment Co. has created its own space in the industry.
Nearing 20 years in business, Ace Equipment Co. has built a line of problem-solving products to handle solid waste and recycling material.
Launched in 1997, the Antigo, Wisconsin, company has added one piece of equipment at a time, responding to clients’ needs and anticipating them, company President Eric Fuller says.
“Our R&D separates us from everyone else,” he says. “Our equipment is always evolving. We’re not afraid to take on challenges that other people won’t. That’s our strong suit: We tailor to customers’ needs.”
That means when a customer who jars pickles needed stainless steel equipment, Ace Equipment got to work and created a variation of their product line – just for that customer.
“It happens every day,” Fuller says. “The Mayo Clinic wanted special compactors to fit their needs at the hospital. We said absolutely. The focus of our business is that everyone is a little different and odd. We’ve learned how to turn that into a profit – the one-offs – when other people can’t.”
A Full Complement
In its years in the business, Ace Equipment Co. has grown to manufacture a full line of equipment to handle waste: trash compactors, apartment compactors, self-contained compactors, front-load compactors and vertical balers.
The company’s team works from a 65,000- square-foot shop, constantly developing new products and taking pride in each product, Fuller says. The company he founded now employs around 30 people – and each one is encouraged to think of new ways to improve the product line.
“All of our employees are involved in that R&D,” he says. “You have to listen to the employee when he’s building a product.
“They may have an idea they’ve seen before or something may occur to them that just makes sense,” Fuller adds. “You incorporate that to make a better product. They’re the ones building it.”
This on-the-floor innovation happens regularly, Fuller says.
One example is a latch for the company’s selfcontained baler – a simple concept but one no one else had incorporated.
“We took our baler latch and incorporated that on our self-contained for a latch, developed by a guy in the shop,” Fuller says. “We were the only ones doing it out there. The customers love it. It was so unique and different. No one had ever thought of it.”
An open approach – and a willingness to experiment – make for a better end-result: an innovative work environment and better products for clients.
“I think at the end of the day you do things that are fun, that means looking at different types of product and taking on the challenges,” Fuller says.
In addition to strong customer service and responsiveness, clients in a variety of industries – from residential complexes to healthcare facilities – now look to the company for its broad line of products.
The company’s vertical baler line of equipment includes the 6030 vertical baler, the 7230 vertical baler and the 7244 vertical baler. Its stationary compactor line encompasses an A.5 stationary compactor, an apartment compactor, a 2-cubic-yard A2 stationary compactor, a 3- cubic-yard A3 stationary compactor and a 4- cubic-yard A4 stationary compactor.
For Ace’s front-load compactor line, the company sells the 6 Pak, but the equipment also comes in 5- and 4-cubic-yard versions. Ace’s self-contained compactors are the E30 and the E34 models. The company also will build selfcontained compactors to meet all sizes – from 10 to 36 cubic yards.
An Evolving Market
Certainly, over the past two decades, demand for recycling equipment has risen – though dollar values on recyclable items vary, such as cardboard, which now brings $30 a bale, a dive from the $90-per-bale tag Fuller has seen in the past.
Though prices have fallen on those, Fuller says he anticipates an upswing down the road.
“Recycling has gotten stronger and stronger, though this year the market price for all recyclables was down,” he says. “We have built all different types of balers to meet the customers’ needs. (Recycling has) come on much stronger within the last 12 to 15 years, but everything is cyclical and right now it’s in a downturn.”
In the meantime, the company’s other product lines and innovations are helping clients save time and money.
The company’s apartment compactors make for more efficient disposal of garbage.
“Everyone drops it down a chute,” Fuller says. “It gets compacted and hauled away or packed into a semi. Where the compactors come in is you could have a container picked up four times. When you buy a compactor it’s a four to one ratio – so you save three trips.”
On the horizon, Fuller sees more demand for equipment that can handle organics.
“Some areas are going to manufacturer separation, which provides an opportunity for a different type of compactor,” he says. “As it gets stronger and more legislation in different states, there will be more need for a self-contained product that contains all liquids for produce and vegetables.”
And the need for out-of-the-box products happens to fit perfectly in Ace’s wheelhouse.