Taking IT to the max

From child refugee to young business person of the year - how Peter Paduh's tremendous achievements are spurring IT asset recovery forward

Peter Paduh may have come from humble beginnings when he arrived in the UK in the early 90s as a teenager having fled the war-torn Balkans, but his love of computers and entrepreneurial spirit has served him well with an IT recycling business which is going from strength to strength.

Having learnt English and gained a computer science degree, Paduh worked for various IT firms including Microsoft before seeing a gap in the market for an IT asset recovery service, one with strong environmental values. "I could see a demand in London [for such a service] with its lack of recycling facilities," he recalls.

In 2003 Paduh set up Maxitech.biz - a not-for-profit IT recycling operation which specialises in the refurbishment and reuse of old equipment. Based in north London, Maxitech's commitment to environmental stewardship sets it apart from the rest - its 'zero per cent landfill policy' means that no harmful components are sent to landfill, and no harmful waste is sent overseas for dumping.

Besides reuse and recycling, the organisation offers an asset maximisation service.
"This enables our clients to maximise return on their investments as we can collect equipment, refurbish it and find buyers for it," explains Paduh. "On average, clients can recover around 5% of the original value of their redundant IT equipment."

Maxitech is also a registered waste carrier and broker, and can provide an asset/waste tracking service for inventory that needs to be disposed of. Paduh says that any equipment which can't be refurbished is sent onto specialist recycling facilities which can dismantle and recover the various materials including precious metals.

He adds that his organisation is working with Imperial College London to research new ways of reclaiming new materials from e-waste - one of which uses chemicals instead of heat to extract precious metals.

Since its inception, Maxitech has served over 1000 clients in both the public and private sector across the UK. As well as local authorities, customers include the Local Government Association and blue-chip companies such as Shell London. Paduh's local council Haringey has benefited from a refurbishment project in which Maxitech took 3,000 computers and redistributed them to over 300 charities on behalf of the LA.

Training high on agenda
Paduh is also highly committed to social inclusion and provides an on-going training programme for youths from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, typically in the form of six-month work placement schemes.
"We have trained over 100 people so far and it helps to give them a foot on the ladder," he says, adding that trainees often go onto secure permanent employment, some with blue-chip companies.

With the WEEE Directive waiting in the wings, Paduh sees healthy growth ahead for his business. Maxitech is already expanding and is currently setting up a new recycling centre in Hornsey, north London with the aid of a £50,000 grant from the London Recycling Fund which will double capacity.

Paduh has scooped a fistful of awards along the way for his efforts including young business person of the year 2005 (London Business Awards) and cleanest business 2005 (Better Haringey Awards). He puts his success down to: "hard work, determination, persistence, and never giving up".

He adds that even before he came to the UK, at the age of 12 he was selling Commodore 64 computers to small businesses in the Balkans. "My grandfather was a salesman so you could say it runs in the blood. From a very young age I always wanted to have a successful business."

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