Turnaround with a

After many years of struggling with high monetary losses, Billeye Rabe took over the leadership of The Prairieland Solid Waste Facility, Minnesota. She analyzed the costs and made processes more profitable with new machinery like the Terminator 6000.

June 04, 2020

For the CEO of a waste disposal company, Billeye Rabbe has a slightly unusual resume. She started her professional career as a Home Economics teacher. Yes, that’s right, she taught students to cook and sew. In 1990, while working for the University of Minnesota, she came into contact with Prairieland Solid Waste Management. Her specialization with the University was Environment and Natural Resources, and she became aware that there was no one offering education on the solid waste treatment done by the Prairieland facility. Through her job with the University, she was able to provide that component for the counties served by Prairieland. It was this connection and the resulting trust that led to her being hired in 2013 to solve the company’s business problems and get it back on a sound footing. Billeye has no problems as a woman in this male-dominated field. “I come from a farming background and can keep up. I’ve had all the training needed to use all of our equipment, and I have no problem getting my hands dirty,” she says with a grin. 

When Billeye took on management of the Prairieland Solid Waste Facility, the company was deep in the red, and getting deeper every month. A precise cost analysis showed where the losses came from. The energy costs were way too high, so the lighting and ventilation in all areas were upgraded, and with other changes the annual electricity bill went from $165,000 in 2013 to $30,000 in 2019. Furthermore, frequent breakdowns of the company’s machine park occasioned maintenance and repair costs of several thousand dollars monthly. This was a problem that could only be solved by an investment in a new Shredder. 

The choice went to a machine from Komptech – the Terminator 6000 SD with XXF shredding unit. It’s designed to turn out a very high quality of material. “That makes all the difference in our business,” explains Billeye Rabbe. “Now we can make market-ready RDF in just a single step.” This refuse derived fuel is a mixture of shredded waste of various fractions with high caloric value. “Thanks to the Terminator we don’t need to do a second shredding run, which saves us a tremendous amount from the reduced energy and maintenance costs alone,” says Billeye, adding, “Getting a new shredder was the single step that gave us the greatest cost savings in our entire upgrading process.” 

With the help of the Terminator, Prairieland Solid Waste Facility turns 90+ percent of the material it gets – household, bulky and commercial waste – into RDF that is used to generate energy in a nearby power plant. The remaining 10 percent consists of contrary-heavy material that cannot be reclaimed, and so is landfilled.

“For a successful company in our industry, it’s very important to have a high-performance machine park with a supplier you can depend on,” says Billeye Rabbe confidently. Hennen Equipment, Komptech’s sales and service partner for Minnesota, made a good impression. “We had terrible problems with our old shredding machine, so we went looking for alternatives. After brief research we found Hennen Equipment. When we contacted them Brad Kiecker, the responsible sales rep, called us back the same day to set up a meeting. Within a week he set up a machine demo at our site, and made a proposal for a Terminator 6000 SD plus taking back our old machine,” says Billeye. She praises the customer focus and commitment of owner Keith Hennen.
Billeye also has good things to say about her team at the Prairieland Solid Waste Facility. “This turnaround isn’t all about me. Our Plant Supervisor Nick, Fritz has made a tremendous difference here. The whole team is very important. You have to have the right people and the support of the Board of Directors.” She’ll continue to count on them for the next year or two until she enters her welldeserved retirement, after handing over the company with good numbers and a good feeling.