Company uses software to manage clients' trash streams in a quest to "waste nothing."

Company uses software to manage clients' trash streams in a quest to "waste nothing."

The new digs Elytus Ltd. moved into this spring on South High Street illustrates how it approaches the business of managing environmental service contracts for companies and emphasizing a sustainability method it calls "Waste Nothing."

Moving into what once was a warehouse, the Columbus-based company repurposed materials found within the new space and used recycled products such as tile flooring found at a landfill as a way to stay true to its purpose of generating as little waste as possible.

"We want to be zero waste, but I (couldn't) force other tenants to do the same," says Matt Hollis about the company's former building in German Village that housed multiple tenants.

Hollis is president of Elytus, which manages companies' environmental services, encompassing everything from waste disposal to recycling to fry-oil recovery services. The 25-person company founded in 2007 generated $25.4 million in revenue last year.

Hollis was completing his mechanical engineering degree at Cedarville University when he launched Elytus with partner and CEO Alan Dillman.

At the time, Hollis was working for a large waste hauler and spoke with Dillman, the center's manager, hashing out their idea based on how that business worked.

"When large haulers want to extend their territory, they'll descend a sales force on an area and sell a whole bunch of contracts that they can't service," Hollis says. "They'll subcontract the work to people who are already (in the area) until they hit a tipping point. Once they hit the tipping point, they bring in all their trucks, buy out the other operations and let go of the subcontractors."

Dillman and Hollis wrote a software program to manage the many parts for the large haulers. Hollis says they were the first in Ohio to offer such third-party management services to waste haulers.

"Once we understood this, we zeroed in on where we could disrupt the industry by allowing end clients to eliminate these providers and self-manage their waste and recycling," Dillman says.

Elytus found early success signing up large haulers and adding features to the software platform that provided a deeper set of services. The haulers saved money and time by letting Elytus manage. But there was a big obstacle: Industry consolidation had shrunk the market to just a handful of larger haulers, indicating a finite customer base.

However, all that changed at a waste expo when a retailer sought to buy the Elytus software and have the company teach employees at its 2,000 stores how to use it. The light bulb went off.

"There are an unlimited number of chains in the US, and we realized that this could be a market, so we started down that path," Hollis says.

The company retooled and focused sales efforts on retail chains-specifically restaurants and grocery stores. Overall, the company manages contracts for tens of thousands of retail locations and about 50 chains, including Bob Evans, Red Robin and Omnicare.

Another customer, the state of Ohio, awarded Elytus a contract to administer its waste hauling and recycling programs for all state agencies. Implemented in 2015, the state saved 26 percent that first year compared with what it normally paid for the same services.

"This innovative tool has also resulted in substantial improvement of the quality and dependability of the waste hauling services," says Randall Howard, assistant director of the Department of Administrative Services.

Elytus' software platform provides a breadth of metric data categories that the state found cut costs further and opened up avenues for more recycling initiatives. "We were optimistic, if not confident, that moving in this direction would result in significant and needed improvement over status quo practices," Howard says.

Dillman and Hollis say Elytus is an open book for its clients. The bottom line for the pair is saving clients' money, time and environmental resources.

To that extent, data on the company's website indicates Elytus has saved its clients 175,000 administrative hours and $11.7 million, plus 19.7 million trees.

Craig Lovelace is a freelance writer.