Hard work is something that was ingrained in Mike Salinas at an early age.

Salinas says seeing his mother work two jobs and his father get up every day to support the family made a lasting impression on him, eventually pushing him to start his own shoe shine business as a child.

He remembers being a kid and listening to business professionals talk shop at the shoe shining station he would set up outside local restaurants. As he cleaned and polished dress shoes for cash tips, he also picked up valuable business lessons. It’s these conversations that inspired him to start his own recycling business years later.

“[I remember customers talking] about garbage being a steady business,” Salinas says. “I figured, if you had to put food on the table, this is the best way to do it.”

In 1986, Salinas and his wife, Monica, started a scrap metal business 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 become a state-certified recycling facility specializing in construction, demolition and residential waste materials.

Today, the San Jose-based facility is a drop-off site for household waste, commercial construction materials and demolition debris, including wood, drywall, concrete, asphalt, metal, gypsum and sheet rock. Customers can also drop off organic materials such as trees and dirt. Valley Services has also expanded its service to include roll-off dumpster rental and removal for small- to large-scale construction and commercial cleanup operations. Most recently, the business added site and event rental services, including portable toilets, sanitation sinks and temporary fencing.

Essential equipment

Salinas says that 70 to 80 percent of the thousands of tons of material that comes into the drop-off facility each year is recyclable. Processing this material requires manpower to sort and horsepower to transport. According to Salinas, the company currently employs 50 employees, many of whom have worked at Valley Services for more than a decade. The company also employs a range of heavy equipment, with its two Doosan DL300-5 wheel loaders being the workhorses of the fleet.

Salinas says Valley Services operates its Doosan wheel loaders 15 hours a day, 7 days a week due to the large volumes of materials the facility sorts, making durability a must.

“We own 110 pieces of equipment,” he says. “We don’t have time to shut down or stop working. Without our machines, we can’t work. The wheel loaders are moving all the time, loading trucks with concrete, pushing material with a bucket or unloading trucks with a pallet fork attachment. They are very durable.”

Safety is also a priority at the facility, since these loaders are charged with managing potentially harmful debris. While Valley Services employs a safety coordinator whose job is to ensure all operators are trained on the proper use of equipment, Salinas says teaching operators how to navigate the Doosan wheel loaders has been straightforward since the machines have been designed to maximize worker protection and efficiency.

Salinas equipped the company’s wheel loaders with solid tires, helping ensure uptime protection. He says that these solid tires are less susceptible than pneumatic tires to puncture via the sharp metal and jagged materials being transported in the bucket or grapple attachment, which leads to greater efficiency.

He also outfitted the Doosan 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.

In addition to the solid tires and guarding package, the Doosan DL300-5 wheel loaders are standard-equipped with rearview cameras to prevent backing accidents and damage. Beyond the cameras, Salinas says the Doosan machines offer better all-around visibility thanks to their design, which helps with safe operation.

“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 alone.”

Building loyalty

Keeping up with routine maintenance is critical on Valley Services’ fleet due to the number of hours the equipment runs and the heavy-duty workload they are tasked with handling, according to Salinas.

To keep his machines performing as intended, Salinas relies on RGW Equipment, a local heavy construction equipment dealer. After years working with another dealer, he noticed that service began to fade to a point where he couldn’t get his machines maintained in a timely manner. With time being money when it comes to uptime, Salinas turned to RGW Equipment.

According to Salinas, all he has to do is notify RGW that a piece of equipment needs work, and RGW promptly ensures it is handled and repaired.

“When we need something, RGW takes care of it instantly,” he says.

Salinas was so impressed with the personalized service he got from RGW on his previous machines, he purchased his two Doosan wheel loaders from them when it was time for new equipment. He says RGW was just as concerned with creating a lasting partnership that prioritized his equipment needs as they were with making a sale.

“I could buy any piece of equipment I wanted,” Salinas says. “I bought the two Doosan wheel loaders because I believe in the product. I’m really impressed with the product. But 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.”

Because of the nature of his business, Salinas says he plans to rotate wheel loaders every two to three years to maintain productivity. He is also in talks with RGW about buying two more Doosan wheel loaders later this year and is working to outfit a new state-of-the-art C&D recycling yard in San Jose that will complement Valley Services’ existing business.

All in the family

While Salinas’s idea to start a waste business stemmed from his days shining shoes as a child, his own children didn’t have to look far when it came to finding a career of their own. Mike and Monica Salinas have four daughters who range in age from 18 to 27 years old who work for the company.

Salinas says his parents’ emphasis on hard work is something he has tried to instill in his own children.

“They’ve all worked seven days a week with us,” he says.

It is this dedication that Salinas says has helped Valley Services cement itself as one of the area’s leading recyclers for three decades.

“We’ve never advertised—everything is word of mouth,” Salinas 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 your job.”

Jamie Jackson is a public relations supervisor for Two Rivers Marketing, Des Moines, Iowa.