26 Jun Old Computers find new uses
Madison, Wis. – Have any old PCs sitting in your basement collecting dust? Give Cascade a call. Cascade Asset Management, LLC is an environmentally-friendly Madison-based computer and electronic equipment refurbishing, demanufacturing, and recycling business that provides a means for disposing of unwanted electronic equipment. Its name describes its business – cascading equipment to the equipment’s next best use. The company serves primarily businesses, but also works with institutions, manufacturers, charities, and individuals from Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
Neil Peters-Michaud, co-founder and CEO of Cascade, became aware of the problem of computer disposal as an Environmental Studies major at the UW-Madison. “I got experience in this field because I used to manage a surplus disposition program called the Swap Shop. My job was to get rid of excess equipment such as computers. They were getting more computers than they could get rid of so they ended up throwing away a lot of stuff. I knew that there was something better to do with this equipment,” he said.
Peters-Michaud left his job there to pursue an MBA in Business and founded Cascade a short time later. The company has grown since its formation four years ago to currently employ 21 people. “We’ve grown tremendously – we are successful in the business sense, but proud that we’re doing the right thing for the environment also. We keep a lot of equipment out of landfills and donate it to community centers,” he said.
Although Cascade is thriving, it faces the challenges associated with a new company in a relatively new industry. “The biggest challenge we face is continuously educating people. Most people don’t know that our service exists and they don’t know where to go with old computers,” Peters-Michaud said.
Cascade tests, troubleshoots, repairs, and rebuilds computer equipment and erases hard drives prior to distributing them. Items with market value are restored for reuse through resale or donation, while obsolete and damaged equipment is responsibly destroyed through recycling. Half the revenue from refurbished equipment is shared with its customers through a quarterly rebate.
If businesses choose to donate their used computer equipment, Cascade will take care of all administrative work required to identify, verify, and service charities seeking donations. It will remove materials from a desktop or a dock, de-install equipment from a network, or unplug it from a wall.
Most of the equipment received by Cascade is disassembled for recycling. It collects whole units from businesses in our local community and haul them to their disassembly facility where computer technicians break apart computer equipment and separate it into circuit boards, copper wiring, cathode ray tubes, aluminum, and plastics. When equipment is destroyed through recycling, Cascade issues its customers a Certificate of Destruction to prove that it was processed according to the standards required by the EPA and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Some of its current customers are American Family Insurance, Covance Labs, Madison Development Corporation, St Francis Hospital, and Quad Graphics, Inc.
Jamie Lyn Hofmeister is a freelance technology writer and regular contributor to the Wisconsin Technology Network. She can be reached at email@example.com.