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Recycle. Reboot. Repeat.: Charlotte computer-salvage company reaches for national role
By Sam Boykin Brett Rhinehardt was dressing up like a blue saber-toothed tiger and swinging from the rafters of a Nashville hockey rink when his dad, John, asked him to help run his Charlotte business, Computel. That was in 2001, when the computer-recycling company was a precocious six-year-old. Now 15 and burgeoning into robust early adulthood, it annually recycles about 7 million pounds of computers and electronics collected from across the Southeast, and it is maturing from its family-run beginnings into an ambitious, expansion-minded company with designs on a national presence. Computel was born in 1995, just as another company was dying. ITT Financial Corp. was going out of business, so its inventory of computers, crammed into a Charlotte warehouse, was for sale. In walked John Rhinehardt with a plan.