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e-Cycle's rapid growth tied to stockpiles of outdated smart phones

When people ask who e-Cycle's biggest competitors are, the answer comes easily to Tonia Irion.

"The closet, the drawer or the warehouse," says Irion, e-Cycle's VP of marketing.

e-Cycle has risen quickly within the environmental industry by building its own niche recycling smart phones. While businesses (and individuals) are still likely to stash away their outdated devices, word is getting out that there's another option, Irion says.

Founded in 2005 by Irion and husband Chris (e-Cycle's president), the Hilliard firm buys up old wireless devices -- mainly phones, and primarily from businesses -- and either recycles them for parts (phones more than two years old) or wipes them of all data and resells them to overseas markets.

e-Cycle's services seem to have met a long-simmering need. The company's revenues rose to $3.5 million in 2009 over the previous year's $1 million, and Tonia Irion says the numbers for 2010 could be double that. The comapany counts 15 of the Fortune 20 companies as customers, as well as numerous small businesses and government.

Meanwhile, employment has risen from 29 employees at end of 2009 to 65 today, and e-Cycle wants to hire an additional 20 sales reps in the next three to four months.

That kind of growth placed e-Cycle 14th on the BusinessFirst Fast 50 list for central Ohio and ranked it 8th in its industry on the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies of 2010.

Irion says the growth is due partly to a good partnership with Verizon Wireless and partly to business practices that include investing in strong sales teams and "making sure every decision we're making is going to generate revenue for the company."

Source: Tonia Irion, e-Cycle
Writer: Gene Monteith
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