Austria-based UNTHA brings shredding business to Hampton

By Kary McCafferty

Hampton Union, November 22, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Regional sales manager Peter Dion started in the Newburyport location. [Kary McCafferty photo]

HAMPTON — Circuit boards, hard drives, production waste, old alarm clocks, skis, tires, carpets, wood and laptops. For UNTHA shredding technology, no material is safe from being demolished into its basic elemental components, creating a more effective means of recycling.

"This job appeals to the 10-year-old in all of us," said Peter Dion, regional sales manager for the UNTHA America Inc. location in Hampton, which opened in June.

Austria-based UNTHA started in 1970, making its way to the United States more than 20 years ago.

According to Dion, the company was founded by a man named Anton Unterwurzacher. Dion said Unterwurzacher was working as a machinist out outside of Salzburg, when he was approached by a local grocer who wanted his leftover pallets of food, boxes and rotten vegetables to be condensed. He then created a two-shaft shredder, Dion said.

Dion cited UNTHA's patent of the first four-shaft shredding machine in 1980 as the company's greatest accomplishment thus far. The four-shaft machine allows for the breakdown of objects into uniform, consistent particles. In 1998, the company also came out with a single-shaft shredder that uses a hydraulic ram to push breakable materials through it.

UNTHA has sold 8,000 shredders to clients in 20 countries, including 200 in the United States. UNTHA America's location moved in 2007 to Newburyport, Mass., following a stint in Illinois that began in 1984. The Massachusetts location was moved to Hampton due to insufficient facilities.

"It wasn't suitable for a company that's dealing with capital equipment," Dion said. He added that the site had very limited space, improper electrical power and no dock.

The Northeast was chosen as UNTHA's American subsidiary for several reasons. The climate is closer to Europe's than down south would be. The Northeast also already has a six hour time difference with the main Austrian headquarters. If an area in mid-American was selected it would tack on another three hours. Other shredding companies are also housed primarily in the Mid-Atlantic States.

UNTHA's clients include IKEA, Lenzing, BMW, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and the University of Cambridge. UNTHA America is also working with several New England companies, primarily in electronic waste.

Potential buyers of UNTHA America's shredders, send the products they want condensed to the Hampton location for testing. Hampton workers, there are currently six employees, send clients the remains of the objects sent. From there potential buyers decide whether or not purchasing an industrial shredder would be a logical step to take.

Many companies choose a shredder due to the small consistency that UNTHA products can get material waste down to. When recycling a whole object in a dumpster, a great deal of air space is still left over, while the receptacle appears full. The smaller particles that are broken down into their most basic elements take up less space yet entirely fill a dumpster, creating a lesser need to constantly pay for someone to unload the recyclables on a weekly basis.

Companies can also sell the particles to be made into other things. Old tire particles can be made into gravel for roads or children's playgrounds.

According to Dion, stereo equipment, computer pieces and laptops are some of the most popular types of pieces that companies are looking to shred.

For the future, Dion could see expanding the number of UNTHA America's employees due to a few upcoming projects still in the works, which may prove substantial.