'Foolish' Small Business Idea: Davis and Betsy got their moneymaking idea after discovering that gold is used in circuits and other computer parts. Their company,
Electronic Recovery Specialists, extracts the gold and other precious metals from old computers.
Start-up Capital: Undisclosed.
How small business idea was launched: They bought old equipment from hospitals, universities and corporations, then scraped dust-sized amounts of gold. Started up their own company, Electronic Recovery Specialists.
Sales: The recycled gold is used by everyone from jewellers to dentists.
Earnings: More than $7million a year.
Every week, industry discards tons of old computers and little of it is recycled. That is, not until Davis and Betsy Gilbert hit upon the idea to extract the gold and other precious metals for recycling. But it's not just computers that contain precious metals, they are also to be found in telephones, satellites, mobile phones, connectors and phone equipment.
Their Chicago company, Electronic Recovery Specialists, goes through tons of old computers every week, taking them apart and extracting precious metals from the circuit boards. At first, it was tedious work, taking hours to scrape dust-sized amounts of gold from the tiny pins in circuit boards. Now Davis has engineered a quick method that allows his company to extract from 10 tons of computers a week. Davis's method remains his secret.
The small business idea of extracting precious metals for recycling, from old, hi-tec office equipment, has created a company that the couple, Davis and Betsy Gilbert estimate will make more than $7 million this year. (2004)