UNTHA America relocates U.S. headquarters to Hampton

By Michael McCord

Seacoast Sunday, November 13, 2011
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
Richard Siller, senior service technician at UNTHA America Inc., watches pieces of a computer processing unit emerge from a shredder. Rich Beauchesne photo

HAMPTON — An Austrian company that makes commercial shredding machines has moved its American headquarters to Hampton.

UNTHA America Inc. recently held its official open house to celebrate its move from Newburyport, Mass., to its location on Merrill Industrial Drive. Company officials say the new complex has larger office and warehouse space and an expanded test facility for its single- and four-shaft industrial shredders that can handle everything from electronic waste, refrigerators, mattresses, hundreds of pounds of plastic, wooden pallets or just about anything that needs to be ground down to size for recycling or proper disposal. The company estimates there are more than 8,000 UNTHA shredding machines being used worldwide.

"This new facility is mission critical. It is twice the size of our old one in Massachusetts and reflects both UNTHA's growth as well as our commitment to the North American market," said Bernhard Mueggler, president of UNTHA America. "It's extremely important for us to be able to do any kind of test demonstration."

The privately-owned family business was originally started in 1970 as a small general engineering firm in Kuchl, Austria, next to Salzburg. In 1981, founder Anton Unterwurzacher was asked by a customer to develop a large shredding machine and incinerator to handle wooden packing cases and large amounts of cardboard. By 1984, its RS30 shredder was launched onto the Austrian market and was the first shredder with a four-shaft cutter system equipped with perforated screen to go into standard production anywhere in the world.

UNTHA set up its first American market distribution channels in 1986 with independent sales representatives. In 2007 it set up in Newburyport to house its sales, marketing, spare parts and testing departments. As it made a more concerted effort to expand its reach into North American markets, it decided to find a larger facility.

Mueggler said the company's relocation to New Hampshire came after a few months of discussions and was helped considerably by the efforts of state economic development officials.

In particular, the testing facility is crucial because it allows UNTHA to give test demonstrations and results to potential clients, most of whom are large-scale recycling and shredding operations who deal in a variety of materials and products.

The materials in products such as plastic can be mostly recycled while others such as circuit boards can be partially recycled.

"We have hundreds of tests a year," said Peter Dion, a regional sales manager. "Here in Hampton, we are much more capable of being able to test a wide variety of materials for our existing and potential customers. We can shred almost anything from a cell phone to a 1,000 pound bale of plastic." The company also has ready-made samples such as shredded circuit boards on hand for customers to analyze.

Dion said the most-used applications for their shredders, which run at different speeds and come in various sizes for specific shredding needs, include tires and rubber, organic waste, hazardous waste (such as batteries), paper and metal. Dion said the most demand is seen for e-waste and paper destruction as more institutions and manufacturers have to comply with greater privacy regulations (especially for the health care industry) and environmental concerns such as proper disposal of electronics.

And then there are needs that would otherwise go unnoticed. Dion said the popular brand Duct Tape needs to be shredded because if put in a landfill, it never decomposes.

Mueggler said the growth of industrial shredders is more economic than environmental. Shredding can save money for companies on their waste disposal on the one hand while there is potential to create a recycling commodity and revenue stream.

Mueggler said the company is much better known in Europe but has increased its North American brand recognition the past three years through its enhanced sales and marketing operations by having a wholly-owned American subsidiary.

"We learned that you can't be half-pregnant in this market," he said of the previous distribution model.

At a glance

UNTHA America, Inc.

Address: 5 Merrill Industrial Drive, Hampton

Phone: 601-2304

Web: www.untha.com/en

Richard Siller, senior service technician at UNTHA America Inc. in Hampton, demonstrates the company's state-of-the-art shredding machinery. Rich Beauchesne photo
UNTHA's state-of-the-art machinery can break down just about anything. Rich Beauchesne photo
Fritz Driessler, a customer-service manager at UNTHA America Inc., displays pieces of a shredded CPU tower. Rich Beauchesne photo