Volume 16 | Issue 5 | Year 2013

And we’re not talking “Antiques Roadshow.” A North Carolina-based business transforms waste into a viable, socially responsible enterprise.

The homeowners who now easily cart waste and recycling curbside within a two-wheeled receptacle – where it awaits removal from a municipal contractor – may not realize that the Charlotte, N.C.- based company has made the early morning chore so much easier.

But the company’s presence is as solid as an ice block – even if too many people take its capabilities for granted. And when you’re an industry leader, why should you really care what other people think?

“We have been at the forefront of development of the two-wheeled carts, as they are used – and seen – today,” says Kenn Budlong, the company’s vice president of service. “Products we offer are light in weight and very effective, and they fit very well within an automated waste collection system.”

It’s a truly integrated arrangement. That automated system Budlong mentions (and deployed by Otto clients) is what you witness as a waste disposal truck mechanically manipulates receptacle content into at least two sections: garbage and recyclables. Explains Robert Engle, CEO of Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc.: “With our products, we help separate trash into the most effective waste streams.”

Strategic streaming of debris enhances recycle efforts, he indicates.

Social Responsibility Presents New Opportunity

How did such symbiosis arise? Engle offers a telling observation: “Everybody – both residents and companies – have become more socially responsible about how they want to dispose of their waste.”

The company represents a new-generation solution; landfills are dinosaur footprints. Recycling is the next step forward.

New-version waste treatment is what the company provides, and that impulse carries into the company’s own processes. “Once our products have outlived their [immediate] life cycle, we will reclaim them, grind them up, and place the resulting material back into the production process,” reveals Budlong.

For sure, this business will keep its eye on wherever and however waste is produced, even if it means critically analyzing its own processes – and it will ensure that any detritus will not be left on the metaphorical roadside.

A 21st Century Enterprise

This not only benefits the company – and the Earth – but customers as well. “It means our clients can truthfully advertise that they are environmentally friendly, as carts aren’t landfill debris,” says Budlong.

Rather, it all goes full circle, indicates Engle: “From production to reclamation.”

Full-shop Enterprise

But the company is not just about churning out product: It’s a very service-oriented enterprise. Its dedicated service division, Otto Container Management, LLC provides container management services to include A&D (assembly & distribution), container maintenance, route auditing, as well as a reclaim outlet at the end of the container lifecycle.

“We are a ‘soup to nuts’ full-service provider for our clients,” indicates Budlong. “Container management is a large focus. True, we are a leader when it comes to developing innovative product designs – products that are lightweight, cost less and yet are more effective – but we are also a ‘one stop’ shop, meaning that we go several extra steps. For instance, after a customer purchases our product, we will distribute those carts. We will also help the client manage their fleet. That means that we maintain and service the product we offer. We are one of the few similar companies that can boast that kind of capability.”

So Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc. is both product and service oriented. But its services even extend beyond that two-pronged benefit. Just as the products (and their purposes) are ecologically sound, so is the company.

That’s just one extra step the company takes. “While our extensive capabilities allow the client to focus on what they need to do, we’ll come in and manage elements such as inventory, repairs, replacements, and anything else that proves necessary,” says Engle.

Historical Background

Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of Otto Industries North America, Inc. In turn, it is part of the larger Otto Group that was founded in 1934 and subsequently established manufacturing locations throughout the world.

The originating company was founded in Kreuztal, Germany, and it entered the waste management industry in 1950. A major milestone occurred in 1965, when it introduced injection molded containers to its market. Eventually, it introduced this innovation to the world. Further, the enterprise pioneered the now-prevalent two-wheeled trash cart. Usage is so common and easy, a consumer can do it in his/her bathrobe.

In the ensuing two decades, the company entered the US market (1983) by importing Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc. containers from its plants in Europe and other international manufacturing facilities.

The company opened its first domestic plant in Charlotte in 1988. Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc. opened its second manufacturing plant in Eloy, Ariz. in 2002.

About 11 years later, in early 2013, Otto Environmental Systems North America Inc. announced its intentions to invest more than $7 million into the Charlotte facility over a three-year period. “Investment will go into new machinery, and it will create at least 32 new jobs,” says Diane Harrington, an obviously enthused Otto human resources director.

Engle adds: “This will expand our waste container business, as well as our capacity in the custom molding portion of our business.”


Indeed, Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc. has diversified beyond waste receptacles (in whatever way, shape, or usage) and into the automotive sector. “We’re now recognized as a Tier 1 supplier to that industry,” says Engle.

Adds Budlong: “We’re also a Tier 2 supplier, which means that we provide equipment to Tier 1 suppliers. Further, our diversifying product lines relate golf automotive as well as water retention and drainage industries.”

The portfolio is impressive, as Engle relates: “We also provide specialty products, such as document security containers.”

The containers offer a process that is more effective than trying to incinerate the too-revealing documents in a fireplace. Whatever idea proposed, Otto Environmental Systems North America, Inc. will come up with a more effective container solution. That’s just another part of its one-stop-shop nature.

“Essentially, we are only trying to keep on track with the growth we’ve been enjoying,” says Engle, expressing a conundrum that many other companies could only wish they would experience.

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