Friday, 21 November 2014

The Back Room Boys

Enough pontificating for one week. It’s time to introduce ourselves properly. Let’s have a look behind the scenes at eReco and see what all the fuss is about.

Not me.

I am not the star of this show at all. You can read my profile or connect to me on Twitter (@hughbessant) if you want more of me, but I warn you, my personal tweets are more usually Arsenal related, or right now focussed on how anyone who appears on TOWIE can be called a celebrity and how pathetic her performance was. I am also on LinkedIn, as are eReco and we would be delighted if you would connect and follow us.

But what I really want to talk about is the guts of the operation; Dom, Ben and John to name but three. These are the gentlemen who assess all the kit that is booked into our state of the art, fully tracked facility (it’s a warehouse, ok, but we have gadgets).

This is the clever bit.

I have told you about the average scrap value of a printer - £5 or just a little less. Which by the way we can only get when we have a big enough load to make it worthwhile, so we might store plastic and metal for a long time before we can extract any value. I have also told you that extending the lifecycle of any electrical appliance is the best option environmentally – 80% of the environmental damage is done during manufacture, so the longer it lasts after that, the better.

So Dom, Ben and John check each piece of kit, wipe the hard drive obviously, and assess the resale value. This varies. It is a market, so the laws of supply and demand apply. It’s not quite Wolf of Wall Street stuff, but you have to know the players and understand what is selling.

Quite often we get lots of something all at once. If we just dumped that on EBay, for instance, the market value might fall – so we can keep some bits of kit for a long time, dribbling it out into the market to get the best possible price.

The experience to do all of this has been built up over a number of years. Dom is the printer Guru. If they did them on antiques road show he would be perfect for it. Mastermind would be good for him if he could do his pet subject. In testing and preparing kit for resale, having someone with his skills gives us a definite edge.

We have this all worked out. Not only do we check each piece of kit to make sure it is safe to use but we make sure there is no comeback to the original owner. We can even provide warranties to the purchaser sometimes. We can run staff purchase schemes or donate the proceeds to charity. All of this takes time and effort, and John is a West Ham supporter, so life is not always easy for him.

I explain all this to help you understand, dear reader, that when we put your old PC in the back of our van, we do still have quite a lot to do. Quite apart from generating waste transfer notes, asset lists and all the other reports I am still learning about, we get the best out of your cast offs. We are knee deep in processes, we can tell you exactly what happened to any piece of kit we have collected since eReco time began, identifying it by serial number and tracking it all the way through our system until it was either scrapped or resold. 

Believe me, our staff meetings are a barrel of laughs as we go through all this stuff.

Having said that, as a newbie, I am extremely impressed by the team here. The knowledge is truly amazing and the enthusiasm for what we do impressive. I have made a few jokes about our green credentials but we do have them, we just don’t wear them on our sleeves. We hang onto stuff to get it back into the market, rather than junking it. We have a treasure trove of kit, a living time capsule of IT progress.

Some of it doesn’t fetch much, just a tenner here or there. But it gets used again, that is the main thing. That is the myth I am trying to deflate. This stuff is not worth a fortune. We make money out of most of it in bulk, but you have to collect a lot to add up to something worth banking. We get paid by the ton not the unit.

So spare a thought for Dom, Ben and John when you consider what to do with that old printer. They will give it a loving new home if at all possible, or a humane exit.