PHOENIX — Entrepreneur Ray DelMuro is currently counting to help him grow his business and reach a aim of keeping 10 million wine bottles from landfills.
Creator of Refresh Glass LLC, DelMuro, 35, is in his fifth season of turning wine bottles into glasses, candle holders, figurines and vases from hotels and restaurants.
He has reused wine bottles, transforming them into 100,000 glasses, all with slight variations is weight size and color.
“Each of these glasses has a story,” explained DelMuro, imagining that the wine jar might have been shared by people observing or drowning their sorrows. “It’s not like these are Chinese mass-produced glasses.”
Refresh Glass has a long way to go in attaining its goal of 10 million bottles, but expansion since 2008 and a recent infusion of investment funds should speed things up.
Mac6, a small business incubator, is supplying the firm with 6,000 square feet of space in business-support services and a Tempe warehouse and bought a 17 percent equity stake. The financial details were not disclosed.
The investment will allow Refresh Glass to maximize its own capacity of processing 1,000 wine bottles every day.
DelMuro stated he intends to double his payroll of six employees this year, including the organization’s first sales representative.
Refresh Glass and Mac6, its partner, are committed to a company practice known as “conscious capitalism.” The notion is that for-profit businesses demonstrate a social responsibility that rewards their community and people.
Kyle McIntosh, co-founder of all Mac6 Scott, with his dad, said they are currently backing nine firms and began the for-profit incubator.
“We support a long-term strategy to company instead of merely taking a look at the quarterly gains,” McIntosh said. “Another part is picking businesses that have a higher purpose than just making money.”
Mac6’s incubator businesses include reNature Inc., which creates fertilizer out of food waste, and Endless Entertainment, which recently staged Phoenix Comicon.
“We picked (DelMuro) for the good his company is doing in taking all those bottles out of the landfill and doing something really cool with them,” McIntosh said.
DelMuro clarified that his Refresh Glass combines “the core of a charity using all the horsepower of capitalism”
Result in the community but also he intends to make money. This includes helping Phoenix achieve its “40 by 20” initiative, diverting 40 percent of trash from landfills by 2020. It is at about 13 percent.
DelMuro is in the Accelerator Application of Entrepreneur’s Organization Arizona, which provides coaching and mentorship for companies that are new.
“Our goal is to try and get them to $1 million in revenue as quickly as possible,” explained Robert Clickenbeard, program chairman.
Refresh Glass collects over 15,000 wine bottles per month from over a dozen companies.
About 160 contours of bottles are sorted by color: amber, green, gold, clear and antique, that has a light-blue tint.
Following the labels and metal caps are eliminated, the vessels are cut in half. Then the top edge is heated to approximately 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit to give the glass a smooth lip.
DelMuro, a former aerospace engineer, designed the gear in the procedure for this critical step, and he’s guarded about explaining how it functions or using it photographed.
“That is the Willy Wonka portion of this excursion,” he explained. The finished glasses are packed in a cardboard sleeve.
Refresh Glass sells a package of four 12-ounce glasses for $25 and four 16-ounce glasses for $30. A candleholder is $30, and a self-watering planter is $20.
DelMuro said he depended on his business idea because it unites his interests and the engineering part of his character together.
He has an engineering degree from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and worked for five decades.
After quitting that job and traveling around the planet, he created the idea of reusing, or “upcycling,” wine bottles while employed as a bartender.
He started the business and sold glasses at the First Friday art walk in Phoenix.
“I figured out how to earn a living doing what I really love,” DelMuro said.
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