Inventive Groveport company helps customers process trash efficiently.

Companies around the globe have been talking trash with Groveport's Komar Industries for over 30 years. One of the company's slogans, "Shred-Feed-Compact," sums up the heart of this central Ohio manufacturing operation.

Komar Industries, Inc. designs and manufactures waste- and materials-processing equipment for customers worldwide. CEO and Founder Larry Koenig is a visionary, inventor, problem solver and frequent insomniac. Some of his best ideas, resulting in 176 patents, come to him at night. "I've learned to keep pen and paper by my bed. I don't want to forget a great idea," Koenig says.

Koenig's great ideas built the foundation of this thriving company that fills some very specific needs for a wide variety of customers. Komar provides compactors, feeders, shredders, breakers, feed systems and material handling equipment, all designed to tackle the burdensome challenge of traditional and non-traditional waste disposal in a manufacturing environment.

Komar's equipment can literally pulverize products such as wood (including telephone poles), metal, medical, hard drives and e-waste; along with hazardous waste processing, and cardboard compacting, tire shredding, and castings reduction. A one-stop shop, Komar also offers manufacturing services, including machining, gear cutting, fabrication, engineering assistance and post-purchase equipment maintenance agreements.

The company's innovative focus is based on good old-fashioned problem solving that revolves around the customer's need to dispose of waste and minimize handling to prevent down time on a production line. "Customers contact us initially because they have a problem," explains Koenig. "We like creating solutions here. The average person would say we are nuts for trying the things we do, but we like a good challenge."

Komar is chipping away at the industry-wide challenge of minimizing the impact of environmental waste through its history of continuous and practical invention. Carmen Sauer, Director of Business Development for Komar, describes her company's longstanding commitment to environmental recycling as "Komar was 'Green' before it was a color."

Komar Industries' best-known product is the Auger- Pak, which can stuff up to eight tons of pallets and other wood waste into a 40-cubic-yard container, helping companies lessen waste and transport costs. Industry giants like Amazon and Ikea utilize Komar's Auger-Pak to process their cardboard and other waste so it can be recycled.

Bob Langham, senior packaging engineer for glass manufacturer Pilkington North America in Grove City, describes the efficiency Komar's Auger-Pak brings to their operation. "Before we purchased the Komar Auger, we were loading empty wood crates into scrap semi-trailers at approximately 50 per week, which were hauled off to the landfill. After having the Auger installed, we have the 40-yard bucket emptied once a day and the material goes to a mulch company to be recycled. The Auger-Pak freed up dock space, improved cleanliness in the plant, and there is very little maintenance."

To address the larger issue of national and global energy needs, Komar has developed gasification feed systems by providing a flexible technology that assists with converting carbon-containing waste materials into a valuable alternative energy source. This plasma gasification technology has the most promise for actually converting ordinary trash into usable fuel.

Unlike old-fashioned trash incinerators, these plasma gasification systems can extract the biomass from trash and convert it into a synthetic fuel which can be used to generate electricity or be processed into jet fuel. The environmental benefit is multi-faceted, including a significant reduction in pollution as compared to the traditional incinerator or a coal-fired power plant. This technology is catching on as Komar's international customer base continues to grow, with many countries seeking alternatives to limited landfill space in Europe.

Komar began in 1977 when Koenig designed a gigantic auger to help a customer process waste more efficiently. Spurred on by this invention, Koenig eventually decided to focus on manufacturing waste-handling systems. He named the company by combining the first two letters of his last name and the first letters of the name of his son, Mark. Just 9 when the company started, Mark now serves as its president; his father is the CEO.

Leaving Iowa behind in 1984, Koenig choose central Ohio for his fledgling business by studying a U.S. map. "I looked at the geographic location of our existing customers at that time and started to draw circles. Columbus just happened to be in the center of it all. Columbus seemed like a good economic and transportation hub, which was a convincing combination."

Darcy Reynolds is a freelance writer.