By Karen Brainard
It’s been a long haul for the owners of Richardson Recycling of Ramona, but they are ecstatic about their new digs on A Street.
“We were all outdoors,” Debbie Richardson said, explaining that their former operations at the site consisted of orange bins and seatrains. “This is like an extreme makeover took place. This is so much better.”
Debbie and her husband, Ron, now work out of an 8-000-square-foot custom fabricated green metal building that has a warm, inviting office area for Debbie, a large opening for customers to back their vehicles into and unload their recyclables, and a roomy handicap-accessible bathroom. That bathroom, Ron quipped, is probably the most expensive bathroom in California.
That bathroom is basically the force behind their 4-1/2-year, approximately $1.2 million makeover.
After 20 years in business, the Richardsons were issued a code violation by the county because there was no bathroom on site, said Debbie, even though county had been issuing them business licenses. They had a portable bathroom, said Ron, but were told they needed a permanent handicap-accessible restroom.
The couple hired Ramona contractor Steve Powell of Woodcrest Homes Inc. who helped them get all the permits, which Debbie said was a “total nightmare.”
“We wouldn’t be anywhere without Steve,” said Ron.
“He’s just been absolutely a life saver to us,” agreed Debbie.
Powell said he warned them that the process would be costly and lengthy, but they said they had no choice because otherwise they would have to shut their doors. They owned the land and equipment, and had a loyal following, he said.
The Richardsons could probably write a book on all the obstacles they faced through the course of the project as they kept shelling out money.
“It was sort of a comedy of errors when you think about the amount of work that went into that project,” said Powell.
Most people would have been frustrated, he added, but the Richardsons were frugal and “have the patience of saints.”
To install a bathroom that would connect to the sewer, not only did the Richardsons have to deal with the Ramona Municipal Water District but they had to obtain a permit from Caltrans. They had to fund the extension of a sewer main from B Street to their property, which included running a line on State Route 78.
Through the entire process, the Richardsons and Powell sought to use as many local businesses as possible. That included Architect Carole Wylie, Thompson & Son Inc., Accurate Underground & Grading Inc., Ramona Disposal, Ransom Brothers, Sun Valley Fence, Air Direct Heating & A/C, Butler Brothers, Pritchard Drywall, Michael Moore, Tom Fite Construction, Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Guenther’s Masonry, and North Peak Electric.
The Richardsons praised the design and construction of the building.
“It’s really put together nice,” said Ron, adding that it’s insulated and has skylights.
“Steve really thought it out...so much potential so it could be a fantastic building for anyone to enjoy,” Debbie said.
Toward the back of the office is a small kitchen area.
“We never leave. Just enough for us to warm up something,” noted Debbie.
Powell even incorporated what appears to be an old bank teller window made of brass that had been laying around the recycling center for years, Ron said. The window is where customers bring their tickets to Debbie, who then pays them for their recyclables.
The couple explained the procedure for bringing in recycling materials. After customers back their vehicles into the building and the items are unloaded onto sorting tables, they can then park their vehicles, said Debbie.
“We sort it and weigh it and then give them a ticket and they bring it to the window,” said Ron.
Noting that music can even be piped outside, Debbie said, “We tried to think of every comfort.”
Churches in town, she said, will bring boxes of bread for them to distribute to those in need. Debbie said she knows of many who have lost jobs and are moving out of town, as they have brought items to the recycling center. She also meets people relocating to Ramona because they bring their moving boxes.
In addition to cardboard, the recycling center accepts CRV plastic, cans, food and beverage glass containers, newspapers, appliances, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and lead-acid auto batteries.
“We had to build a special room with ventilation for car batteries,” said Ron.
There is also a nice spot in front of the office doors for Rufus, the Richardsons’ 13-year-old dog who likes to socialize.
“He is an icon here,” said Debbie.
Rufus was born on Christmas Day in a school bus that was once on their property, Ron said. He was the only dog in the litter and he found a home with the Richardsons. Many repeat customers bring Rufus treats, and he recognizes their cars.
“He can tell when they drive up and he greets them,” Debbie said.
With all the improvements, the Richardsons said it is much easier to conduct business.
“We are open now even when it rains,” said Debbie. “What’s nice is everyone is so happy for us.”
“The Richardsons are one of a kind,” said Powell.
Noting all they went through, he said, “They still come out smiling.”
Mystery sign unearthed
Ron and Debbie Richardson want to know if anyone has information about a sign that was found buried deep on their property.
During grading, a large arched wrought iron sign bearing the words “Broadway Florist” was discovered. The sign is about 8 feet long and was buried 4 feet deep, said Ron Richardson.
Excited about the find, the Richardsons plan to have Eric Guenther of Guenther’s Masonry mount the sign at their recycling center, but they would love to know to know the story behind it.
“I just think it’s so cool,” said Debbie Richardson.
Anyone with information may contact Richardson Recycling at 760-789-9041 or send a comment to the
Richardson Recycling to host Smart Energy Day with ribbon cutting
To celebrate its new facility, Richardson Recycling will conduct a ribbon cutting and host a Smart Energy/Recycle Information Day on Saturday, March 30.
The event will be from 10 a.m. to noon at the recycling center, 1018 A St.
Representatives from San Diego Gas & Electric will be on hand to explain how customers can save money on their bills. Representatives from San Diego County Department of Environmental Health will provide information on the disposal of fluorescent lamps and have containers available for disposal.