Dan Collins has built a national waste-management business right in the middle of downtown Akron — without a bit of mess, smell or even truck traffic.He and his team of software engineers help to move and document industrial waste that requires special handling at landfills across the U.S.Collins, who spent more than 20 years managing landfills and waste services, started Akron-based Wastebits in 2013. He saw a need on the part of industrial waste generators, their service providers and landfills around the country to connect with each other and to share the documentation required for "special" waste, which is generated by industry and can include anything from asbestos to plastic scrap or sludge.So Collins found some software engineers and a little help from folks in similar industries — including Rob Heiser, CEO of the Akron-based data firm Segmint — and designed an online tool to generate, track and manage all of the documentation needed to manage special waste."We're the guy who sits in the middle of the entire transaction," Collins said.The service is part and partly a suite of business documentation software.If a waste generator or service provider needs to find a place to handle a specific type of waste, the system shows them which landfills or other service providers will take it. You can't just show up at a landfill with a truckload of industrial sludge or old plastic resins, Collins explained. You have to take certain types of waste to specific landfills equipped and approved to handle it safely. With a keyword search, Wastebits can show users a list of landfills that can handle their needs.But what Wastebits does that might be even more important is generate the documentation necessary to take the waste to the landfill. Every time a generator produces special waste, a "profile" of that waste must be created and retained by the landfill so that it knows what it has taken in. That paperwork can be mountainous, and it must be shared and co-managed among several parties as generators, brokers, haulers and landfills all work together, Collins said.He seems to be on to something. Collins won't say what the company's revenues are, but he points to the top of his computer screen while giving a demonstration of his product.It read 40,479."That's how many subscribers we have right now," Collins explained.The system's facility locator is currently getting more than a million hits per month, he added.Each subscriber pays between $50 and $250 a month to use the service, depending upon their subscription, Collins said.Not bad market penetration for three years of work, and Collins said the number is still growing quickly. He's had to constantly staff up to maintain and expand his product and now employs 28 people. Eighteen of them work at Wastebit's downtown headquarters. The rest work remotely."I'm constantly looking for software developers," Collins said. "We're trying to hire as we speak."Customers apparently like what they've seen in Wastebits so far."It works great for things like remediation projects where you have multiple pieces of information you have to manage," said Bruce Schmucker, vice president of engineering and environmental affairs for Clark Ford Landfill in Jeffersonville, Ind.Schmucker, who until recently worked for small, independent landfills and waste haulers, said Wastbit's documentation system provides a level of sophistication that most small companies don't have on their own."It provides a system that allows these smaller companies to manage their special waste information, with their clients, and provides a repository for everything to be stored and managed … It's a slick system," Schmucker said.Mike Templin, a special waste accounts manager for Fort Worth, Texas-based Waste Connections, said he also relies on Wastebits' documentation system."Once the waste generator submits the profile, all notifications are electronic and they go to me, my assistant at the landfill that manages paperwork, my engineering group that does the profiles — and it's all automated," Templin said."I can tell you there's not another system that's currently in use that has the functionality of Wastebit's or is as user-friendly," Templin said, swearing to have no stake in the company or Collins personally, with a laugh.Such reactions likely mean more growth for Collins, whose challenge now might be finding enough technical help to keep up. He said being downtown makes that a bit easier, as most of his workers are young and enjoy the amenities of the city's center. His offices are in the city-owned Hamlin Building, on Water Street and a stone's through from the Towpath Trail, Akron's canal locks and the Canal Park baseball stadium."We get plenty of opportunities to move out of state. But I love Northeast Ohio, and our team is committed to supporting downtown Akron," Collins said.

Source: SunDown RunDown Canton alum Wastebits featured in Crain's Business URL: