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A digital network geared toward the reuse and refurbishment sector launched last week. It has the simple goal of connecting clients with reputable vendors.

The E-Reuse Network (ERN) allows processors providing various services to list offers and deals, which are available to network members. Members can then write reviews and offer feedback to the vendors. Those vendors could include repair businesses, computer refurbishers, ITAD companies and data destruction service providers.

“In our minds, the better decisions you can make about the vendors you work with, the more powerful and effective and the more sustainable the whole industry really becomes,” said Mike Cheslock, a co-founder of E-Reuse Services, the company behind the network. Sarah Cade makes up the other half of the company leadership. Besides ERN, the company also puts on the annual E-Reuse Conference.

The ERN concept started as a rating system for vendors but evolved into a platform that’s more akin to a virtual trade show, Cheslock explained. At a physical trade show, a vendor sets up a booth and works to attract clients, often offering a trade show special to sweeten the deal. ERN, which officially launched Jan. 16, is based on taking that model and expanding it into a year-round web presence.

Navigating the system

Vendors pay a one-time setup fee to get into the network. Once registered, they can list offers on a “Deals” section of the network. For example, a vendor might offer a discounted price for service to ERN members. The goal is for each vendor to offer a fairly consistent benefit to members, instead of using the service as simply an advertising platform. They are allowed to update their deal twice per calendar year with no fee, Cheslock said, and any further updates come at a cost. Members pay an annual $499 fee to utilize the network.

A company can only become a vendor if it’s recommended by a current network member, a step that’s designed to help ensure the network includes only reputable companies.

In addition to strictly repair and refurbishment operations, traditional recycling companies may also be interested in the service, particularly those that include or are looking to add a reuse and refurbishment component. (Full disclosure: E-Scrap News and the annual E-Scrap Conference are also vendors on the network).

“We want to keep the vendors specific to the types of products and services that those sorts of (member) businesses are going to need,” Cheslock said.

Searching for service

The idea for the network came out of a frequent experience for both founders. Cheslock has a background in data destruction and Cade comes from the computer refurbishment sector. The founders often get asked for recommendations on vendors and suppliers.

For example, Cheslock said he gets asked about the best data-wiping software for solid-state drives. Although he noted he can make recommendations on those services, a recommendation from one source doesn’t represent a comprehensive look at a vendor.

“That’s sort of limited,” he explained. “We want to get ourselves out of the way and make this about the members and the companies that make up the industry.”

By not directly recommending or reviewing vendors, “We leave it to the members to kind of drive this thing,” Cheslock said. “We’re just trying to basically create a forum through which the vendors can get the most out of the industry that they service, and the members as well.”

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