Spikner stitches together separate recycling and embroidery businesses

Memphis native Fred Spikner has found success in running two companies that seemingly have nothing in common.

Creativity isn’t really all that complicated, particularly for those individuals who possess it.

At the center of creativity is an imagination, the ability to see something where others don’t quite get it. Fred Spikner is creative. But his canvas isn’t that simple. And in some ways, this Memphis native has used his creativity as an entrepreneur by operating two businesses that are really only connected by his influence.

Spikner opened Spikner Embroidery and Screen Printing while he was a student at the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1995. He has operated Park Place Recycling & Logistics for less than four years.

Park Place Recycling & Logistics is located at 815 E. Georgia Ave. just south of E.H. Crump Boulevard. It recycles and processes paper and cardboard products from commercial users around the Memphis area. Earlier this year Spikner received a $20,000 Inner City Economic Development loan from the Economic Development Growth Engine to improve the exterior of his operation.

Owning two businesses is a full load but one Spikner enjoys.

“It’s a challenge but I’m the type of guy that needs a lot to do,” he said. “I don’t watch sports so I need other things to hold it down for me.”

Spikner’s days spent studying commercial art possibly explains his creative entrepreneurial path.

Spikner was known around Martin for his art specifically a unique signature he placed on every item. He had an entrepreneurial “aha” moment when he came up with an idea after people kept asking about his unique signature.

“I was a guy into fashion so I decided to try something,” he said. “I went to Walmart and bought a skull cap and wrote the signature on the cap. I said if I walk onto campus and someone asks to buy that hat it’s on. Once I sold one hat other people wanted to buy it.”

He bought more skull caps and began subcontracting with people to do the embroidery work. He eventually bought his own machinery and suddenly found himself in the embroidery service industry.

Spikner returned to Memphis and opened a store that sold his own branded clothing line. The store today is located at 1210 Madison Ave. He has run other businesses through the years but screen printing was always his passion. He calls it his bread and butter.

But six years ago he went on a water mission trip to Honduras and had his next entrepreneurial “aha” moment. He realized that recycling did not exist in his area of Honduras.

“They weren’t doing it,” he said. “I decided to come back to Memphis to do recycling. I got thrown into it.”

When Spikner returned to Memphis his mind also was on the expansion needs of his embroidery business. He was out of room and needed a larger space. So his real estate agent took him to a facility which happened to have a bailer. The owner used it for recycling but couldn’t move it.

Bales of recyclable product at Park Place Storage & Logistics in South Memphis.

“It will cost a lot to move it. Do you want to buy it?” Spikner recalls that the building’s owner asked him.

“I told him I didn’t know anything about it so he showed me. Once I got into that I loved it. I’ve been excited about it and doing it ever since. It was something no one was doing. It allowed me to create a space.”

Yes, Spikner admits the recycling business is a coincidence. But he thinks the timing is right.

“I jumped in and took the chance,” Spikner said. “It wasn’t easy but I invested money in it. (Recycling) is the next wave for Memphis.”

Spikner believes his formula is less expensive for the customer who is allowed to create a plan that works best for them. His business collects recyclable products from the customer. By picking up that single commodity from the customer, it enables them to get a better disposal rate.

Park Place Recycling uses the baler to package a single commodity for shipping. One shipment could be plastics and the next cardboard. The company’s typical customer is a business typically in the industrial arena with a lot of waste paper.

“If you’re an importer customer you have a lot of boxes. You have that container outside that you’re putting garbage in and you pay $300 or $400 each time to empty it,” Spikner said. “Cardboard makes that bulky so I say take cardboard out of the mix. We tried it with restaurants and hotels and tried it with other companies around Memphis. When you take cardboard out you save money on the container dump.”

Park Place Recycling teaches its customers how best to break down the boxes for space efficiency. Many more broken down boxes can be stored in a container for pick up. Park Place Recycling then takes that product, bails it and ships it to mills around the world to remake the product.

Park Place Recycling has 10 employees. The company only uses about 75,000 of its total 138,000 square feet, so there is room for growth.

While Spikner is focused on growing Park Place Recycling, he has someone managing Spikner Embroidery and its 10 employees.

Whether it’s operating one business, two or 10, Spikner said it’s important to have friends to look to.

“When I started the screen print company I had good friends with me,” he said. “It’s important to have people supporting you, to have good mentors along the way.”

Read more articles by Lance Wiedower.

Lance is a veteran journalist with more than 16 years of experience in newsrooms in the Memphis area as a reporter and editor, including most recently as managing editor of The Daily News. He regularly contributes to The Daily News, including a biweekly travel column, The Daily Traveler. 
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