Behind the scenes of a carpet pad recycling business in 1997

Who are you again? That’s right – apologies – our new hire. Welcome aboard. Let me get you up to speed on how things operate around here.

Do you like things that smell? Don’t answer that, ’cause it doesn’t matter. Our focus is smelly shit.

Carpet, Carpet Pad, and Tack StripYou ever seen that padding underneath carpeting? That’s the smelly shit I’m referring to. That’s our squishy gold.

Welcome to the world of carpet pad recycling. I’m your guide, Peter.

Lemme give you a quick overview of this business model. Don’t expect anything fancy, cause I didn’t go to business school – I went to Ole Miss, motherfucker. I kid, I kid.

How this business works:

  • Homeowners got stinky/nappy carpet; they want new carpet
  • They hire a sketchy company to come lay new carpet
  • Carpet layers rip out old carpet, plus old padding (below carpet)
  • You listening?
  • Then carpet layers install new padding & new carpet
  • Layers then leave, throw away old carpet, but roll up carpet *padding* & bring it to us
  • We pay between $0.10 – $0.15 /lb to layers who bring that trash to our warehouse. Cash money.
  • We collect it, bale it all up into an 800# block, and then broker/sell that stank to carpet companies like Shaw, Leggett & Platt, etal. Upon receipt, they’ll chop it up, clean it, treat it, and ‘re-bond’ it all into new carpet padding & re-sell to new consumers. It looks like this when they’re done: Rebond carpet padding

Congratulations. All things considered, with that level of knowledge, I’d say you’re an ‘up-and-comer’ in this industry.

When I first joined, and helped expand this business, I was surprised at how straightforward, and dare I say ~ easy ~ it was to open one of these operations.

You essentially need an empty warehouse, a baler, a scale, and cash money. Then you’d canvas the metro area, identifying carpet companies, then spray their dumpsters with flyers promoting your recycling outfit, essentially persuading folks to bring that stank to you instead of hurling pad into said trash receptacle.

At first, we’d overpay for padding – sometimes paying $0.20/lb (when we were selling for same price). Loss leader, we thought. A marketing expense, basically.

And it worked. Word would spread fast that the gringos were overpaying for pad. And the carpet layers would begin showing up.

On busy days, they’re bringing thousands upon thousands of pounds. All that stuff you’re manually picking up, weighing on a floor scale, scribbling down the amount, & then and pushing into a baler (like the one below).

Ignore the fact they’re using a forklift to push shit in there. That’s fantasy. You wanna know what happens when you use forklift to push pad into the baler? The forklift pushes the entire baler over on its backside. No bueno. The method of baling carpet padding is 100% manual, by hand. Sometimes you’re stuffing so much in there, you’re pushing your mitts against the pad as the compaction sled is slowly moving downwards. I don’t recommend that, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. But, seriously, don’t get your hand gnawed off by a carpet baling machine.

How did I get here? Good question. I’m here ’cause my brother runs the business. I was lost after college and needed a job. You seem like a high flyer, though. I could see you owning your own carpet pad recycling center one day.

That guy? Who is he? That’s Chuck. He’s part owner of this operation with my brother. And he’s from Texas. Old Texas. Shit kicking Texas. ‘I’ll cuss you in your face’ Texas. Aside from that, he’s a nice guy. You prob don’t wanna go talk to him right now, though. We took him to his first sushi restaurant last night, and after we warned him to go easy on the wasabi, he took that as a challenge & dolloped a spoonful of it, and downed it in one gulp. Three seconds following, he stands up, procures a samurai sword decoration on the wall, unsheathes it, and begins to wave it around the restaurant, showcasing the immense pain in his esophagus and digestive tract. So, point being, he’s a little salty right now. (a 100% true story, btw)

Let’s get back to business, though.

Something worth noting – some carpet layers – they can be shifty. Keep your eyes out.

Because we pay by the pound, they’ll pull every stunt to add weight to the pad they bring in. Dousing it with water is the simplest, most effective route, but easy to identify. So if you see pad dripping when it’s slung onto the scale, you need to jump into action.

Other items they’ll dump into the rolls to add weight:

  • hardwood
  • scrap metal
  • trash

I’ve even seen live mice scurry from the pad when it’s propelled onto the scale. Feces have even fallen out, no joke. Ah, livin’ the life.

So, next steps. We’ve weighed the pad, and owe the carpet layer cash money. Time for the cross-sell. Since they’re carpet layers, they’re gonna need staples, tack strip, and seaming tape for their next gig. WHY yes! You’re quite bright – we do sell those items. This is your sales opportunity. Easier for them to simply buy from us, than make an extra stop, right? Bingo.

So those are our two revenue streams. Pad recycling, and carpet supplies.

Actually, there’s a third stream. I’m gonna tell you about it, but keep this between us.


Some preface: when homeowners call carpet installers, 9 times out of 10, the installers will over-quote the amount of new carpet padding needed for the installation. If there are leftover rolls, they’ll bring those to us & we’ll buy for .10-.20 cents on the dollar. So basically, a $100 roll we’ll buy for $10-$20 bucks. We’ll then re-sell those for around $40 to any layer looking for extra installation rolls on a new job. That shit’s hush hush, so keep it in-house.

You get all that? It may seem like a lot, but it’s pretty straight-forward. And yes, we have a loaded register full of cash, prob over $2,000 – so watch your back. That’s why there’s a shotgun on the wall behind you. It’s got two live rounds in it, fyi.

I like you. I think you’re gonna do great.

What’s that? You need to run an errand? Uh, ok. The last time someone said that, they never returned. Are you coming back? You better. Looking forward to growing this business with you.

See you soon.

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