A self-described workaholic, Mike Salinas has never been afraid of a little hard work. As a child, Mike was an aspiring entrepreneur who set up a shoe shining business outside local restaurants. As he polished the dress shoes of local business professionals for cash tips, he also picked up valuable business tips. What he heard inspired him to start his own company approximately 33 years ago.
“I liked to listen to them talk about business,” he says. “They would always talk about garbage being a steady business. I figured, if we had to eat, this is the best way to do it.”
In 1986, Mike and his wife, Monica, started a scrap metal business by hauling junk cars to large scrap centers in the San Jose, California, area. Over time, the business became known as Valley Services and expanded to a state-certified recycling facility that specializes in construction, demolition and residential waste materials.
The facility is a drop-off site for commercial construction materials and demolition debris, including wood, drywall, concrete, asphalt, metal and gypsum. Customers can also drop off organic materials such as trees and dirt. Valley Services rents roll-off dumpsters for small- to large-scale construction and commercial cleanup needs as well as hauls the material waste to the recycling facility.
“We’ve never advertised; everything is word of mouth,” Mike says. “We treat people the way you want to be treated. We’ve been here 33 years because of it. It’s not always price and money. It’s your reputation, your availability and how you do it.”
Mike and Monica have four daughters, and they all work for the company. They range in age from 18 to 27, and Mike says they have been working in the company since they were kids. “They’ve all worked seven days a week with us,” he says.
Mike says 70 to 80 percent of the material that comes into the facility can be recycled. That requires manpower to sort and horsepower to transport materials. “We own 110 pieces of equipment,” he says.
The primary pieces of equipment are a handful of excavators and wheel loaders used for sorting and moving materials.
Salinas was a loyal customer of another heavy equipment brand for years, but he says after the sale, the service began to fade. “They never took care of us the way they should have,” he says. “After the sale, they forget about you in a month.”
Mike adds that he became just another face in the crowd of customers. Eventually, his local equipment dealer couldn’t service his equipment in a timely manner. “We don’t have time to shut down or stop working,” Mike says of the 15- to 20-hour work cycle of the business. “Without our machines, we can’t work.”
Mike called on RGW Equipment to provide his equipment service. “When we need something, RGW takes care of it instantly,” he says.
He was so impressed with the personalized service, he purchased two Doosan® DL300-5 wheel loaders from RGW and couldn’t be happier with the partnership. “I could buy any piece of equipment I wanted,” he says. “I bought two Doosan wheel loaders because I believe in the product. I’m really impressed with the product.
“Value is in your reputation and how you do business, not just selling the product. I’ve worked with several companies where I’m buying $500,000 in equipment, and they forget about you in a month. RGW doesn’t do that.”
As if to prove his point, Valley Services operates wheel loaders up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, sorting harsh and potentially harmful materials to be transported to various recycling and processing facilities.
“The Doosan wheel loaders are moving all the time, loading trucks with concrete, pushing material with a bucket or unloading trucks with a pallet fork attachment,” he says. “They are very durable.”
The work isn’t glamorous and can take a toll on equipment. Solid tires ensure uptime since pneumatic tires are susceptible to puncture when transporting sharp metal and jagged materials. Mike also outfitted the Doosa® wheel loaders with an optional guarding package for additional protection. The dealer-installed guarding package includes more than a dozen guards to protect a variety of areas on the machine, including cylinders, axle seals, the articulation area, and under the cab, to name just a few.
Focus on safety
With more than 50 employees, many of whom have worked at Valley Services for more than a decade, the safety of its people is a top priority at the facility.
“Safety is one of the reasons we got the Doosan wheel loaders,” Mike says. Doosan DL300-5 wheel loaders are equipped with rearview cameras, but Mike says the Doosan machines offer better all-around visibility by design alone. “The back is lower than other brands, so my operators can actually turn their heads to see,” he says. “Other machines you have to rely on the cameras.”
A safety coordinator ensures all operators are trained on the proper use of equipment. Mike says the training on Doosan wheel loaders is fairly effortless since the operator controls are intuitive.
He plans to rotate wheel loaders every two to three years to maintain top productivity. “I would not hesitate to buy more equipment from RGW,” he says. “In total honesty, they are really good machines.”
The Salinas family is planning to open a new recycling yard in late 2018. According to Mike, the new facility will have the latest and the greatest of sorting and separating, so employees can divide the material right away.