My name is Harry Bohna and I began my recycling adventure as a residential contractor/renovator in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada over 30 years ago. If you are as dedicated to the 3Rs of waste management: Reduce | Reuse | Recycle as I have become as a result of this experience, you will find all sorts of information and links about recycling, especially about used building materials, here. I have also published 2 books on recycling; "The Everyday Guide to Recycling" and "The Golden Rules of Recycling", a guide to starting up a profitable recycling business, supported by a complete business-plan template to help you to get started.... enjoy your visit here, and please let me know your thoughts on recycling; after all, we all share the same small planet.
In the 1970's the market for fixing and selling real estate was very tight. When fixing a property, you had to watch every penny you spent, if you wanted to make a profit. With profit margins always on my mind, I would go to garage sales, auctions and scour the newspaper for anything that I could use on a renovation site. Buying used is not scientific, just common sense. I could buy good quality materials at a fraction of their cost. I could not figure out why anyone would want to get rid of these re-useable materials, but they do! Even when I had no immediate use for these items, I knew they would eventually become invaluable on upcoming projects. Heck, sometimes material became stock piled. So, I would go out and buy a real wreck of a house to cut the material stock down. In a few years I was buying properties at a fast rate, all which needed repairs. Consequently, this led to a need for a lot more materials. Eventually, I compiled enough material to warrant a warehouse. I would have my tradesmen use the materials in the warehouse first and then as a last resort go buy new merchandise at the lumberyard. It was not uncommon for one of the trades to ask if they could buy a set of cupboards or a toilet for personal use. It was the unexpected profit I made from those items that planted the idea to sell a line of used building products to other contractors, tradesmen and the public.
As with most things, it was not until 10 years later that I finally opened a used retail store. By that time I had renovated 200 properties over 12 year, and was ready for a new challenge. So, I rented a warehouse on commercial land and acquired all the proper licenses in about a day! From the first day I made sales and it has not stopped since. It was not luck; my renovation experience had given me the discipline to only purchase the material I would use myself. The key to my success was, and is, house basics. Every house eventually needs repairs to windows, doors, cupboards, plumbing and electrical. Always keeping these base items will always result in constant clients. As recycling became popular in the 1990's, so did Happy Harry's Used Building Materials. Other businessmen and corporations took notice and wanted to take part in the profitable recycling effort. Soon inquires were flowing in from all parts of the country and around the world!
Construction waste accounts for 20-30% of a cities landfill waste, even today. Happy Harry's has become the front line attack unit, were the average person can take an active part in waste reduction. It became a new adventure to educate the public on construction waste recycling. It also became my mission to show people how to set-up and operate a successful used building supply stores, vital to a citiy's recycling program. I franchised stores in Canada, which allowed me to network products coast to coast. There have been 24 stores set-up and operated under the Happy Harry's name, and numerous other operations that have benefited from my private meeting, consultation, and seminars. One U.S. charitable organization, Habitat For Humanity, operates over 100 and counting, used building materials outlets accross the US with their operations copied from my original Winnipeg store.
As I mention in my video, I am passionate about recycling and have written a couple of books to pass along the knowledge I have been fortunate to gain over the past 30 some years being in the business. Please read on to learn about the 2 books already published. and please check back or watch for tweets updating our publishing activity.Our location in Vernon, B.C.
How to Start Your Own Recycling Business
In the last 27 years Harry (Happy Harry) Bohna has set up 14 stores in Canada and has consulted and held seminars for numerous others to start their own recycling businesses (U.S., Australia, Haiti, Japan, Ireland, Israel, South Africa). Now all this information is available to you. This comprehensive book targets all the inside information you will require to decide if this business is for you. And if it is, how to start your own recycled/used materials business.
The following exerpts from The Golden Rules of Recycling will give you an idea of what the book covers, and I know The Golden Rules of Recycling will be a source of constant reference that you will read over and over again. At the end of each chapter is a review and summary of what was covered to assist you to fully understand the interworkings of successfully running a recycling store.
Benefits of Recycling Building Materials
Area to Cover in a Basic Survey
Search Areas for Competition
Permits and LicensesStore Set-Up
Basic Lay Out
Use of Racking an AssetSales Personnel and Labor
In Open View
Front Counter and Office
Office, Storage Closet
Spare Board List
Special Program Staff
Material SourceMarketing Strategies
Key Buying Factors
Handling the Customer
Meet and GreetValue Adding
Non Competition Forms
The Golden List
Here's some media snippets about Happy Harry,
...read the full texts here.
Happy Harry is Harry Bohna, an ardent Winnipegger from St. Boniface and the proprietor, along with his wife Carol, of Happy Harry's Used Building Materials, a jerry-built collection of storage sheds in a muddy industrial yard on the city's eastern edge. The sheds are brimming with construction detritus: used plywood still studded with nails, used windows and doors of varying sizes and states of imperfection, used kitchen cabinets standing like lost souls amid a riot of old pastel sinks and toilets, even a used garage that was plucked whole from its footings. Yours for $500. Delivered."Waste Not, Want Not."
by Tony Leighton, Harrowsmith Magazine
On a sprawling, 1.5-acre site on Archibald that looks like a cross between a down-in-the-mouth lumber yard/hardware store and some kind of enterprise still under construction, Bohna treats the place like his own playground. With about $200,000 in inventory, including, as he boasts, at least 1,000 doors and the largest selection of old bathtubs in Western Canada, Bohna said next year his store could turn over $500,000 in sales."Old Things Build New Business."
by Martin Cash, Winnipeg Free Press
Used building materials stores are springing up all over Canada and were recently the subject of a feature article in Harrowsmith magazine, the bible of the back-to-the-landers -- both rural and urban. They've sprung up because people like Ray Banville realize there is a value to the goods someone else is throwing out. And it's caught on with the public because the prices of some building products are very expensive. In addition, many people are no longer comfortable with the philosophy of the disposable society. The burgeoning landfills of the nation could be reduced if more people re-used the products of our consumer society."The Used Economy"
Business in Calgary
It's certainly not a junkyard, but the stuff isn't new either -- it's Happy Harry's, the new store in Kelowna that sells recycled building materials, windows, cupboards, plumbing and light fixtures, architectural artifacts and almost anything else imaginable needed for building or renovation. Five years ago while stationed with the air force in Manitoba, Brown met the original Happy Harry -- Harry Bohna of Winnipeg. Bohna has two such stores in Winnipeg and when Brown moved to Kelowna and was thinking of opening a business, Bohna suggested Happy Harry's."Happy to Sell Recycled Building Materials."
by Steve MacNaull, Capital News
Meet the demolition men. They're Giles Beland and Tim Willemsen, two former defensive linemen with the Mount Allison Mounties. They helped take the fabled football squad to the Atlantic Bowl in the late 1980s; they earned degrees in economics; they entered the workplace five years ago, bound up in silk ties and brimming with ambition. Today, you'll find both in scrubby coveralls and steel-toed boots, hauling old lumber and heaps of hope around a dusty brick warehouse on the outskirts of Sackville. The difference is, it's their lumber and their scrap metal inside the warehouse they lease from Fawcett Foundry Stove Company, whose better days are now over. But things are just beginning for Mr. Beland and Mr. Willemsen. ""Demolition Men"
by Richard Foot.", The Telegraph Journal
Just 14 months after opening his first Happy Harry's Used Building Materials outlet in Winnipeg, Harry Bohna is expanding across the country. He opened a second outlet in Calgary in March and has plans to open a third store in Hamilton in the near future. "The idea is to create a network," he says. "Once I open in Hamilton, I will have enough stock to be able to send trailer loads back and forth across the country. What is popular in one region may not be popular in another." Bohna has been in the contracting business in western Canada for 20 years. He used to buy houses and renovate them for resale."Used Building Supplies Outlet Creates Network"
by Myron Love, Hardware Merchandising
"I love garbage," says Bohna, president of Happy Harry's Used Building Materials, the largest operation of its kind in Canada. "To me, it's just used building material. It has the connotation of recycling and that's good." With its founder as jovial as the business name suggests, the company specializes in the salvage and resale of quality used building materials including windows, doors, bathtubs, toilets, plumbing supplies, light fixtures, lumber, cabinets and flooring. The business also features "architectural artifacts," period materials of particular interest to customers restoring old homes. "If you have an older home an you were looking for a part for a light fixture, an electrician might suggest you get the whole house rewired," says Bohna, holding up a vinage light socket. "but maybe all you really needed was one of these" he says. I love garbage - but to Happy Harry it's used building material.by Nancy Boomer
At a recessionary time when most doubted the success of an established business -- let alone a new business and a new concept. Today, customers can find doors, windows, lighting, sinks, cabinets, even antiques and unique one-of-a-kind items at Happy Harry's. Prices are open to negotiation making the entire atmosphere a giant garage sale. In fact, Harry has even sold a used garage -- making it the ultimate "garage sale"."Innovative Business Started in Recession by Winnipegger"
Winnipeg Free Press
"I think it's an idea that's going to be around for a long time," says Banville at the store's Macleod Trail location. Pointing around the warehouse to piles of sinks, tubs, doors and cabinets -- most only slightly worn -- he says, "90 per cent of this stuff was headed for a landfill. But we know there's someone out there who wants it". Banville says much of the used material comes from contractors who have completed renovations and don't have a need for used building materials. Normally the items would be hauled to a landfill, at a cost to the contractor for time spent doing the hauling along with landfill charges -- not to mention the environmental cost."Business Gives Used Building Materials a Second Life"
by Gerald Vander Pyl, Calgary Mirror
A Guide to Getting Personally Involved with RecylingClick here to order
While "The Golden Rules of Recycling" is intended as a "how to" book, based on my extensive practical background in the industry, to help you start-up a recycling buisiness, I wanted a vehicle to express my thoughts and ideas on the subject of what "garbage" really is, and what, as induividuals, we do about the issue.
So, how about being smart consumers? That's not a bad idea! Why not take a closer look at the things we buy and start asking questions? 'Do I need it?' is always a good one. But so is 'Can it be recycled or reused?' The smartest questions are, 'Will it last?' and 'Can it be repaired if it breaks?' True environmental living isn't difficult; it just takes a bit of creativity. It's about asking the questions, paying attention to the answers and putting them into action. This is the focus I took in writing "The Everyday Guide to Recycling". I take a look at different areas of the house, room by room, and see how the Three R's can become the Three C's, Convenience, Cost-savings and Comfort. They're more important to you, right now, than any trip to the landfill.
In this book I will sum up some of the current recycling issues that we hear about and suggest some things that you can start right now that will help change the world. I'll also give you a glance into the future; what we can expect the world to look like when we are all recycling as we should be.
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The Golden Rules of Recycling
The Everyday Guide to Recycling
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Hard-copy: $54.95 Reg. $69.90
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