How this got started

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

It was just a few short years ago that Rain­Bar­rel.ca was launched. How­ever, this lit­tle Hamil­ton-based com­pany con­tin­ues to grow and is very ac­tive in hun­dreds of com­mu­ni­ties ev­ery spring. It be­gan with a prob­lem. Lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers were gen­er­at­ing large quan­ti­ties of plas­tic 55-gallon drums that pre­vi­ously con­tained fruit, veg­eta­bles, bev­er­age con­cen­trates and other food grade in­gre­di­ents. The empty drums could have been shred­ded, re­cy­cled and turned into new prod­ucts, but that uses a great deal of energy and pro­duces a min­i­mal fi­nan­cial re­turn to the re­cy­cler. Rain­Bar­rel.ca de­cided to re­pur­pose the drums and turn them into func­tional and durable rain bar­rels. The mass pro­duc­tion of the “green­est” rain bar­rels had be­gun, but how do you dis­trib­ute tens of thou­sands of rain bar­rels each spring?

Rain bar­rels are bulky and ex­pen­sive to ship in small quan­ti­ties which ex­plains why they sell for over $100 at re­tail out­lets, but when shipped in truck­load quan­ti­ties, the trans­porta­tion cost per bar­rel is rea­son­able. The fi­nal piece of the puz­zle was to es­tab­lish a dis­tri­bu­tion net­work where par­tic­i­pants could han­dle a full truck­load of rain bar­rels. Key fac­tors to con­sider in­clude hav­ing avail­able space to re­ceive and un­load a full trailer and hav­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels within the com­mu­nity to share the bulk buy op­por­tu­nity.

Owner Larry Pomer­antz had years of ex­pe­ri­ence op­er­at­ing and pro­mot­ing spe­cial events as Chair and found­ing mem­ber of Earth Day Hamil­tonBurling­ton, a non-profit en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and tree-plant­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion, which like most non-prof­its is al­ways in need of fundrais­ing dol­lars. Schools, churches, sport teams, ser­vice clubs, con­ser­va­tion author­i­ties, neigh­bour­hood as­so­ci­a­tions and oth­ers have ac­cess to large park­ing lots, well de­vel­oped com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­works, on­go­ing fundrais­ing re­quire­ments and help­ful vol­un­teers. Part­ner­ships have been de­vel­oped with over 500 or­ga­ni­za­tions; fundrais­ing sales have net­ted $600,000.

To ad­dress the needs of dis­tant com­mu­ni­ties, where large quan­ti­ties are too ex­pen­sive to ship, Rain­Bar­rel.ca de­signed a DIY (Do-It-Your­self) kit that per­mits home­own­ers to find a drum lo­cally and turn it into a bar­rel. Rain­Bar­rel.ca also de­signed a newly man­u­fac­tured rain bar­rel that is pri­mar­ily dis­trib­uted through mu­nic­i­pal con­tracts.

How far can this grow? Juice con­cen­trate drums will be head­ing to the Big Ap­ple, New York City in truck­load quan­ti­ties this spring.

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