Ohio Mulch Cincinnati
Grinding and Growing—
Without The Pain

Dan Weber, production supervisor for Ohio Mulch Cincinnati—a division of Ohio Mulch Columbus—has seen a lot of changes in the mulch industry since the mid-1980s. “We used to buy bark from sawmills, grind it once and we were done. Now, to make hardwood mulch, we take agricultural materials—brush, logs, chips, grass clippings and leaves—and we grind it, screen it, grind it again and compost it. “With the mix of raw materials, today our end product looks the same but is better for the soil and plants.”

As the production process has become more complex, so has the machinery. Where grinders that produced 80 cubic yards an hour once met demand, now the company relies upon grinders that can produce 400 cubic yards an hour—resulting in five-fold growth in annual production over the past three years.

Last spring, Ohio Mulch purchased a Morbark 3800XL Wood Hog that handles 400 cubic yards an hour. A second 3800XL is on order from Columbus Equipment Company.

Ohio Mulch is replacing its existing Morbark 3800 Wood Hogs with the XL model, which has been significantly modified in a way that meets Ohio Mulch's needs. “We take in yard waste, and it comes in so fast that we have to process it quickly. Landscapers, homeowners, municipalities and tree-removal companies all bring us green waste. Green waste that used to go to the dump, we now turn into landscape mulch,” Weber explained.

Morbark's new XL Wood Hog allows Ohio Mulch to process that green waste at two to three times the speed of the previous 3800, which could handle between 150 and 200 cubic yards an hour. Modifications include increased horsepower and steel hooks in the WHD 120 infeed chain. “That, and the redesigned reverse-pivot feed system, turned the 3800XL into a yard-waste-eating monster,” Weber said.

Ohio Mulch started using Morbarks from Columbus Equipment several years ago, and Weber says the machines are a big improvement over the previous grinders he owned. “We found the Morbark to be easier to use. The Morbark computer system also gives you more choice on parameters for grinding.”

The Morbarks are more durable, as well, he said. “The other brand had problems with wear items, and Morbark doesn't have those issues, so there's less downtime.”

To increase production further at its Cincinnati plant, Ohio Mulch has ordered a McCloskey 36x80 stacking conveyor, which will enable the plant to cut costs. “Normally we need two loaders with the 3800XL, one to feed the machine and one to push the pile away from the discharge area. The McCloskey can stack the mulch 33 feet high, allowing just one operator to run the machine for the whole day,” Weber noted. “The high-speed stacking conveyor eliminates the need for the second loader, the extra fuel costs of the second loader, and allows that machine to be productive elsewhere in the production chain—it's a win-win-win scenario.”

Columbus Equipment sales rep Ron Duperow suggested Weber demo the stacker. “Ron works closely with us to see what our needs are and how we can incorporate equipment that makes us more efficient,” Weber said. “Every Columbus Equipment staff member I've dealt with has been very helpful. The parts department is fantastic, and the field service techs are always knowledgeable and helpful. Not only do they repair things, but they help us better understand the equipment if we're having problems.”

Ohio Mulch started as a retail store opened in Columbus in 1984 by Dan's brother, Jim Weber. A year later, Dan moved to Cincinnati and started a similar store. Jim grew his company to 14 branches, and Dan and business partner Mike Zerwick grew theirs to four locations before the two companies joined forces in 2009. The company sells mulch at its own stores, and its production facilities also provide bagged products for major national retailers such as The Home Depot. ”