Phoenix Industries LLC
- Written by: Camila Osorno
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Phoenix Industries LLC (PI) is an environmental solutions company and worldwide leader for innovations in waste tire recycling processes and new technologies for asphalt rubber paving. The company was originally founded in 1988 as Phoenix Environmental Services. Roughly five years ago, PI transitioned to focus solely on tire recycling and asphalt rubber plants. “I came on when the company switched over. I have about 18 years of experience from owning a company in Texas that built asphalt plants and asphalt-rubber blending plants. What makes PI an exciting company is that we are pretty much the only company out there who can go into an area and put someone into the business of tire recycling, setting up the entire operation from whole tire recycling to a finished paving product. We go full circle,” asserts Kelly Sockwell, principal and director of operations at PI. The company’s primary focus is on the design, fabrication, delivery and installation of recycling facilities that address many of the growing waste problems our planet is enduring.
PI is headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev. From there, PI builds and distributes its own line of asphalt recycling equipment and operates the only tire recycling facility in the state. “We operate a tire recycling plant here in Las Vegas, which was one of the last states to stop disposing of tires in the landfills simply because it had no recycling facility,” explains Sockwell. “Eventually, a local state senator got the appropriate legislation passed for us to finally be able to open shop here and prevent an enormous amount of tires from being disposed of.” The plant recycles about 1.5 million car and truck tires per year, separating the rubber from steel and fiber, which are also recycled.
Expertise Rounding the Globe
Though the company is based out of Las Vegas, it has provided customers with its requisite equipment and expertise spanning the globe. “We have equipment operating in Poland, Russia, Sweden, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Czech Republic and many more,” says Sockwell. “We will sell them the equipment and systems they need and then oversee the installation and do the necessary training. Every time we introduce this technology into a new market, it’s a very monumental thing,” continues Sockwell. In the case of our operating tire recycling plant in Vegas, the company uses much of the recycled rubber for the pelletizing plant. This produces two new proprietary asphalt products, PelletPAVE and PelletPATCH. Both are designed to perform as well, or better than, traditional asphalt rubber paving products. In addition, these products have the ability to be stored at any ambient temperature. “The paving industry, as a whole, is a pretty conservative industry and generally one that doesn’t take to new technologies very quickly,” explains Sockwell. “The advantage of the PelletPATCH product, especially, is that it can be used for pothole repairs in a location like Chicago, even in the middle of February. This is because it’s a hot-mix product that we produce right on the repair site. The road authorities wouldn’t have to patch with a cold application product and wait until the hot mix plants were open in spring and go back to make a permanent repair.”
PI began a nationwide rollout of its newest product in early 2011, the MP-300 Mobile Pothole Patching Unit. The new product was a truck outfitted with a generator, heated emulsion tank, air compressor and PLC Control unit, with an optional compaction roller that can patch potholes without the constraints of traditional systems. “After we exhibited it at the ConEXPO here in Las Vegas last March, the largest construction equipment show in the country, we conducted a 15 state, 14,000 mile demonstration tour. The tour was to introduce our MP 300 and the PelletPATCH pothole repairing system to city, county and state agencies around the nation,” says Sockwell. The system enables the user to mix just enough product to patch the pothole, eliminating the need to keep excess product hot when not in use, saving both energy and product.
A Full Circle of Growth
With the success of the nationwide tour, Sockwell is planning for substantial expansion, albeit slowly. “There is so much market out there for us to introduce the product into. We’re working on developing a franchise model so that we can start distributing the Mobile Patch Units and the PelletPATCH material across the nation. It’s the part of our business with the most growth potential,” asserts Sockwell. “But we’re realistic about the kind of growth we can expect to see in the next few years, because city and state budgets are tight. Aside from that, the paving industry moves very slowly. It can sometimes take years before a state agency decides to heavily invest in something. We feel we’re in a good spot for now though and we hope to see at least three or four agencies using our system in the next year. That would be a good amount of growth for us.”
PI understands the importance of a full circle approach, from whole tire to the finished product, built around a sound and economically sustainable package. With a product that hovers on the brink of revolutionizing an essential industry and almost 20 years of industry experience, Sockwell and Phoenix Industries LLC are sure to revolutionize pothole patching and paving, making the process greener and more sustainable.
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