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Hempfield e-waste firm Commonwealth Computer Recycling looks to expand

Stephen Huba
| Friday, July 21, 2017, 12:45 p.m.
Serdar Bankaci,  founder and president of CyberCrunch, poses among computers being sorted at the company's Hempfield office on July 20, 2017.
Kyle Hodges
Serdar Bankaci, founder and president of CyberCrunch, poses among computers being sorted at the company's Hempfield office on July 20, 2017.

A Westmoreland County e-waste recycler has not only weathered recent upheavals in the technology industry that drove similar companies in North America out of business but says it is poised to continue growing.

"We've had growth of at least 50 percent every year for the past three years, and we expect to do that again this year," said Serdar Bankaci, CEO of Hempfield-based Commonwealth Computer Recycling, or CyberCrunch .

A downturn in the e-waste recycling industry nationwide has been driven largely by the 2015 drop in commodity prices and other difficult market conditions, said Joe Connors, CyberCrunch's vice president for business development.

Commodity markets reflect the value of gold and other precious metals that are used in computer components, he said.

"As many industry analysts predicted, this has led to bankruptcies and distressed asset sales," Bankaci said. "We believe the industry will continue to see consolidation through 2018."

CyberCrunch is not only riding the storm out. It expects to expand regionally and nationally, Bankaci said.

The company recently hired Bora Caliskan as its business development manager. Caliskan is the former director of operations at Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, which closed its Pittsburgh e-waste processing facility.

Bankaci, a 1997 graduate of Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel, grew up in a Turkish-American family in Greensburg. A self-described "lifelong nerd," he graduated from American University and the University of Miami in Florida and founded CyberCrunch in 2012.

Bankaci said Pennsylvania's Covered Device Recycling Act of 2010, which requires the recycling of computers and peripherals such as keyboards and printers, breathed new life into the e-waste recycling industry statewide.

As the company's name implies, CyberCrunch is in the data destruction business. "We recycle anything with a plug," Connors said.

The company has about 20 employees in Greensburg and could hire 10 more in the next year, Connors said.

With certified recycling facilities on Roseytown Road and in Aston, Delaware County, CyberCrunch provides both data destruction and e-waste disposal services. Electronic items collected at the 20,000-square-foot warehouse in Greensburg are either recycled or sent out for disposal as scrap, Bankaci said.

"Everything brought here is wiped according to government standards, so that the data is irrecoverable. That gives both businesses and consumers peace of mind," Bankaci said. "The data eradication is probably as important as the recycling component."

Although CyberCrunch charges for its recycling services, its client base has grown to include government agencies such as the FBI, the health care industry, the financial services industry, school districts, and colleges and universities, he said.

Pallets at the Greensburg warehouse are piled high with old hard drives, computer monitors, microwave ovens and other vestiges of the computer age. Televisions are accepted only from commercial entities.

Cardboard boxes are filled TV remotes, office telephones, circuit boards, keyboards, laptops, LCD monitors, magnetic tape, CDs, cellphones, flash drives and other components — most of which are tested for hazardous waste and broken down for parts.

Bankaci said CyberCrunch's main mission is to address widespread concerns over identity theft and data breaches, especially in an era when almost every electronic device contains personal information.

"You read about it in the news almost every day," he said, citing the recent example of Washington State University informing 1 million people of a potential data breach following the theft of a hard drive in April .

"We eliminate that threat of data breaches by securely destroying your data" through shredding, low-level wiping and an electromagnetic method known as degaussing, he said. "When your hard drive arrives at this facility, all the information is destroyed."

CyberCrunch serves Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania through its Greensburg facility, and Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland through its Delaware County facility.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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