Kurtz Bros., Inc: Making The Good Earth Better … Efficiently, Responsibly And Profitably


Where others see trash, Kurtz Bros., Inc. looks for ways to turn the waste into a useable product and income stream. The Cleveland-based company recycles yard waste and other byproducts into landscaping products. While this emphasis on sustainability sounds very 21st Century, the company has been Making The Good Earth Better (the company’s tagline) since 1948.

Reusing material does present certain problems. Metal—sometimes pieces weighing 70 pounds—can end up in a pile of waste to be processed for mulch. That’s one reason Kurtz Bros. switched to a Komptech Crambo mobile grinder to perform the primary grind on all raw yard waste, logs, pallets and municipal green waste, said Marion Black, head of grinding operations for the Central Ohio Division in Columbus. Before acquiring the Crambo in July 2012, Kurtz was running the waste through a high-speed grinder for the first pass, and metal inflicted significant damage on those machines.

On the other hand, “the Crambo can be compared to a tank,” Black said. The high-torque, low-speed Crambo has an automatic stop that limits damage if metal is accidentally mixed in with the waste. It’s more durable and can handle large logs without a problem as well, meaning less sorting of waste. Before purchasing the machine from Columbus Equipment Company, Kurtz Bros. first demoed it. “We threw everything we could find through it,” Black said. “The Crambo proved itself up to the challenge.”

The machine grinds about 250 cubic yards of waste an hour, roughly two-thirds of a high-speed machine’s rate, but the trade-off is worth it, Black said. “It’s saving wear and tear on our big grinders. Additionally, it uses less fuel—burning 40 to 50% less fuel an hour on the first grind compared to the high-speed grinders.”

Other benefits include ease of maintenance, with easy access to the conveyor when the operator needs to unplug the machine. Kurtz Bros frequently takes the mobile machine off site, and it can be up and running in 30 minutes. “It doesn’t take much training to run the machine. It practically runs itself,” Black said.

At Kurtz Bros. Northern Ohio Division in Cleveland, another piece of Columbus Equipment Company equipment has improved mulch-production efficiency. The company has been using a Morbark 3800XL grinder since December for the first and second grind on the Amerimulch product line. Amerimulch is a colored mulch made from wood waste and pallets, according to Matt Malone, equipment manager for the Northern Ohio Division, which produces more than 150,000 cubic yards of Amerimulch annually.

The Morbark, which grinds 400-plus yards an hour, replaced two smaller grinders. “Those units were slower and not as versatile. The 3800XL allows us to grind first- or second-grind material. It has improved efficiency as a whole due to its ability to grind all our products.” Malone said “We are producing at a higher rate than we used to and the Morbark allows us to plan better rather than being pigeonholed into using a specific grinder for certain waste.”

Metal in the material being recycled is a concern here, too, because it includes some sorted C&D materials. The Morbark’s torque limiter helps protect the machine against damage from metal, Malone noted.

A McCloskey Trommel unit purchased from Columbus Equipment has also improved efficiency for the division. The 621 model, used to screen yard waste and soil, has a bigger drum than the unit it replaced so it has sped up production.

Both Black and Malone have been happy with the support provided by Columbus Equipment’s Environmental Division. “Bob Stewart was point man on the Morbark purchase, and he did a great job working with us,” Malone said. “He was very accessible and helped our guys to understand the machine.”

Ron Duperow and Tim Smith have been very helpful,” Black added. “They really work to get parts to us when we need them,” so the process, and success, at Kurtz Bros. can grind on.