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In 1992, Dick Noble launched Summit 360, a technology refurbisher and information technology asset disposition (ITAD) services provider, in Eagan, Minnesota. While the company has been around for nearly 30 years, Summit 360 grew from a mom-and-pop business into a national operation in 2015 after restructuring, which included command chain and personnel changes. The move helped the company grow to $22 million in annual revenue, he says.

Certifications can help boost customers’ confidence in an ITAD company. Last year, Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), Washington, released the latest Sustainable Electronics Reuse & Recycling (R2) Standard, R2v3, which it describes as a comprehensive, voluntary industry standard for used IT hardware recyclers and resellers. This August, Summit 360 jumped ahead of the curve and became the second company in the world to earn R2v3 certification. The company received the certification for its ITAD facility on Lone Oak Road in Eagan, Noble says.

“We’re seeing a barrage of attacks on data around the world,” he says. “I believe that the strengthened data security requirements in the R2v3 certification benefit all stakeholders: the end-user clients, vulnerable consumers and businesses and society at large.”

Rooted in tech

Noble founded the company in 1992 after he left his position at Heritage Computers, where he sold refurbished equipment. Originally, Summit 360 operated out of a duplex Noble owned in Eagan and specialized in selling computer products made by Digital Equipment Corp. before that company was acquired by Compaq and then later merged with Hewlett-Packard (HP).

Today, Summit 360 operates two facilities in Eagan. Its main location primarily handles networking, server and storage sales and support featuring equipment from Cisco Systems Inc. “We primarily sell Cisco equipment because it’s made with larger companies in mind, which makes it easier to sell,” Noble says.

The second facility is the company’s R2V3 certified ITAD facility, which performs data sanitization, repair, refurbishment and recycling of used electronics, including products from Cisco, Dell and HP. This facility features a wide range of security measures, including cameras, employee background checks and cataloging of the equipment Summit 360 receives and refurbishes. The company resells these products nationally to medium and large organizations.

Summit 360 uses test beds and testing equipment for software and hardware to ensure they are free of defects. Each electronic device received is inspected and processed by hand.

Summit 360 uses software from Extreme Protocol Solutions, or EPS, Uxbridge, Massachusetts, to securely overwrite data before reselling these devices.

Securing certification

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Summit 360 began the R2v3 certification process in 2020. The minimum requirements for the certification process are set by SERI. Certification typically takes roughly eight months to complete. However, because of safety concerns arising from the pandemic, the process took more time for Summit 360.

“We pumped the brakes during the pandemic and then continued the process once we felt comfortable we were going to get over the COVID-19 hump,” he says.

To get the certification, Noble worked with two consulting companies to examine his ITAD facility and determine whether the company needed to make any changes to meet the R2v3 standard. Then Summit 360 invested in the security measures and documentation the certification requires, including writing a manual that detailed all its downstream processes and assembling detailed reports on its downstream vendors.

The facility was audited once the manual was completed to ensure its processes and procedures adhered to what the manual specified.

The certification process cost Summit 360 more than $100,000 and took more than a year to complete, Noble says.

“We did not get the R2 2013 certification, so there was a lot of time and human resources that went into this process,” he says, referring to the previous version of the standard.

The requirements for R2v3 certification are designed to enhance all dimensions of ITAD operations, including downstream recycling chains, data sanitization, hardware testing and repair, materials recovery and brokering.

SERI says R2v3 incorporates experience gained from more than a decade auditing and implementing the R2 Standard and reflects changes in the electronics landscape, customer demands and the regulatory environment. Many of the changes to the standard are a result of feedback submitted by customers, members of the industry and the public.

As a result, SERI says the R2 Standard is “more powerful, practical and works even harder to protect data, people and the planet” by increasing emphasis on reuse and protecting data, offering an adaptable and scalable approach for facilities and strengthening requirements in key areas while retaining much of what has made R2 a popular tool for setting responsible reuse and recycling practices globally.

“Certification to R2v3 goes beyond providing assurance that electronics will be securely and responsibly managed,” Sean DeVries, SERI R2 director, says. “R2v3 certification also provides customers with additional information about the specific areas of expertise that have been certified at each facility. Summit 360’s scope includes managing the downstream recycling chain, logical and physical data sanitization and test and repair of equipment for reuse,” he adds.

“People want to make sure their equipment gets wiped securely and have an audit trail of the equipment they give us,” Noble says. “We provide that service, and for a lot of really important organizations, it gives clients a level of comfort.”

Summit 360’s ITAD facility in Eagan, Minnesota, is R2v3 certified.
Photo courtesy of Summit 360

Future protection

In the future, Noble says he hopes to expand Summit 360’s global reach. “It’s been a little more difficult to get our foot in the door with new clients because we’re not global,” Noble says.

He says he also plans to perfect the way the company processes and manages IT equipment. This includes using software to improve audit trails, certification of destruction and serial number tracking.

Additionally, Noble plans to improve the company’s command chain efficiency.

Summit 360 also plans to apply for ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 in 2022, Noble says, though the company already has RIOS (Recycling Industry Operating Standard) certification, which was originally developed by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Washington. These ISO certifications include quality management, environmental management systems and occupational health and safety.

For Noble, the most important parts about running a business are creating a positive environment for his clients and meeting growing demand for the responsible management of end-of-life IT assets. He says these reasons are why he recently invested in the R2v3 certification.

“Technology is not going away,” Noble says. “It’s getting smaller and lighter, but it’s not going away. People are going to need this service.”

The author is the digital editor for the Recycling Today Media Group and can be reached at akamczyc@gie.net.