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As technology goes through its endless cycles, there is an awful lot of used equipment hitting the market. RE-PC just says: Bring it on.

As technology goes through its endless cycles, there’s an awful lot of used equipment hitting the market. Seattle-based RE-PC just says: Bring it on. Co-founder Mark Dabek chats about refurbishing, the environment, and speaking geek.

How did RE-PC get started?

Back in the late ’80s there was a developing market for used computer equipment and my business partner Steve Hess and I began buying various used equipment, parts, and computers. We began refurbishing, testing, and reselling them either through newspaper ads or local swap meets. We had discussed often the idea that we might be able to create a store that we could operate fulltime.

A large computer repair business here in Seattle had opened a combination repair/used equipment store and were looking to divest themselves of the used equipment part and they contacted me and said “Why don’t you buy it?”

So I talked it over with Steve and we figured we might just make it work. Then, out of the blue, the name came to me–recycled PCs…RE-PC!. This fit in perfectly with our concept of truly recycling the materials as well as providing a low cost alternative to the high priced new machines.

Why do you feel there’s a need for what you provide?

It was obvious from the beginning–at least to us–that a great resource was being wasted. Companies were just tossing old equipment and proliferating the environment with tons of toxic stuff and the price for new computers was still quite high.

We have been recycling computer materials in a responsible fashion since we opened in 1994.

How does the company fit into the used equipment market?

I like to call us a “computer retail recycler.” We’re different than most of the other used dealers in that we emphasize the proper recycling of as much of the material we receive in the form of reuse, repair, refurbishing, and reselling.

We also offer companies and individual citizens a way to deal with their surplus equipment in a way that assures them that we’re not going to just dump or ship our excess wastes offshore.

We disassemble non-resellable units and recycle the circuit boards for precious metal content and send the scrap metal to a metals processor. All of our CRTs that are end-of-life go to a facility that recycles the lead in them. In addition, our stores offer a more personal approach to the computer experience.

We have a lot of knowledgeable people who actually interact with the customers–you know, like the old days.

Have you found that companies and individuals are more interested in refurbishment now than in the past?

Definitely. I think this is in part due to the excellent efforts of several organizations that have educated the public regarding the danger of just dumping the various toxic materials used in computers as well as people like us, who have been recycling this stuff for nearly 11 years.

It’s interesting to note that when we started, we were the only used computer dealer in the Seattle area, now there are about five or six.

What do you like best about what you do?

It’s gratifying to know that we’ve been able to provide a service to people. Offering computers and peripherals at a price that those with less resources can afford, knowing we’ve been a factor in the effort to preserve the environment, providing employment and training for many who’ve worked for us, and being able to make a living and have stores where folks can come and “speak geek”–or at least learn the jargon. We’re very grateful that we’ve been able to do this for as long as we have.

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