David Mulicka, president of HONC Destruction and Recycling, talks about the business and how they recycle 85 percent of what they take in.
Amanda Inscore, AINSCORE@NEWS-PRESS.COM
David Mulicka is president of Honc Destruction and HONC Recycling. At the recycling facility, they are able to recycle about 85 percent of the demolition debris that is brought in. (Photo: Amanda Inscore/The News-Press USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA)
FNP 1108 DAVID MULICKA HONC SIDEBAR: Dorsey/15-18 inches/Art and video by Inscore
Presto ID: 2533704001
A closer look at David Mulicka, who is part of the Honc family construction business empire. He founded Honc Destruction and Honc Recycling.
David Mulicka likes to break stuff. It’s cathartic and fun, he said, but every business has its drawbacks: expenses.
In 2003, Mulicka founded Honc Destruction, branching off from his stepfather’s business, Honc Marine. The stepson had found his niche in building demolition, a much different craft from seawall installation.
Mulicka, 52, graduated from Cape Coral High School in 1984 at age 16. He went on to the University of Florida and earned a business degree. His son, Charlie, 15, is a sophomore at Cypress Lake High School.
At first, David Mulicka followed his stepfather’s advice. He steered away from construction-type businesses. He entered the realm of selling cars in just about every capacity.
Mulicka worked as a finance director and general sales manager for various car dealerships in Punta Gorda, Phoenix and Los Angeles.
“I made good money,” Mulicka said. “But I wasn’t happy.”
In 2002, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, inspired Mulicka to return home to Lee County. He began working for Honc Marine, his stepfather’s company.
“I was 2,000 miles away from my family,” Mulicka said. “My mom wanted her kids home. Everybody wanted to be together again.”
In addition to building the new seawalls, the concrete buffers protecting homes from adjacent rivers, canals, harbors or lakes, Honc Marine began demolishing homes until Mulicka started his own company.
“I had a guy who did the excavator work,” Mulicka said. “I had a guy who did the plumbing. I had a guy who did the air conditioning. I had a guy who did the trucking of the debris. Over time, I eventually bought my own excavator. I was able to self-perform. I didn’t need to hire subcontractors anymore.”
This year, Honc Destruction has torn down the Atrium off College Parkway, the Cape Coral Yacht Club’s pavilion and the 119-year-old wood-frame building at 2208 First St. in downtown Fort Myers among dozens of other homes and businesses.
The company has continued its streak of tearing down a million square feet of buildings each year for six consecutive years.
Mulicka did so with fewer expenses and therefore more profitability than when he started the company.
In 2007, the Lee County landfill raised its dumping fees. This already was the largest expense Honc Destruction faced. The company would haul the remains to the dump and then pay the price.
When the dump rates rose, Mulicka took action. Instead of paying someone else to sift through the wreckage he wrought, he would do it himself.
“The only person I couldn’t take out to self-perform was the landfill,” Mulicka said. “I realized I was beholden to them for my single largest expense. The only way was to not need them. I would not only not pay their fee, but I could actually sell what was good. That was the vision.”
Mulicka founded Honc Recycling in 2015. In 2018, Mulicka upgraded to $3 million worth of state-of-the-art recycling equipment. This boosted his recycling capacity from about 50 percent to more than 80 percent.
“We started off recycling 100 tons a day at 50 percent recycling capacity,” Mulicka said. “Now we’re doing over 1,000 tons a day at over 80 percent recycling rate.”
Dump truck loads of destroyed buildings get dropped off on any given day to his company’s junkyard off Mainline Parkway, just north of Alico Road. The loads are sent through three different sifters.
“These are world-class machines,” Mulicka said. “There isn’t a better one you can get. It is the Cadillac. There are three different layers of separation.”
Eventually, the debris is hand-inspected and separated into cardboard, wood, concrete and metal, all of which can be re-sold as commodities.
The metal later will be inspected by hand, sorted by type and resold to recycling companies. In addition to being paid for dumping garbage,
Non-wood shingles, PVC pipe, fiberglass and insulation are among the items Mulicka cannot recycle. Those end up in a landfill.
“Our customers like that most of the materials from their projects aren’t going to waste in the landfill,” Mulicka said. “And we like being responsible.”
Mulicka’s company has an additional stream of income by selling back what he calls the “cash from trash.”
Sometimes, workers will find actual cash, hundred-dollar bills, moving along the conveyor belt. Never will there be a greater clamor among the 54 employees than when a safe can be seen moving along the conveyor belt. Most of the time, the safes arrive empty.
“This is copper wire we retrieved from the debris of a house,” Mulicka said, pointing to a box at the base of a sorter. “We bail it.”
In one area of the junkyard, a man tore insulation casings from copper wire.
“If I sell it like it is, I can get 10 cents per pound,” Mulicka said. “If I remove the plastic around it, I can sell it like this for 80 cents per pound.”
Mulicka pointed to a 603-pound bail of copper wire.
“I might have 300 bales on a flatbed truck,” he said.
Copper sells for 80 cents to $2.50 per pound.
Selling 1,500 pounds of recycled copper might bring in $4,000, he said.
“That’s my favorite color,” Mulicka said of copper. As he continued giving a tour of the junkyard, another truck arrived, dumping the remains of an outdated riverfront home on the ground of the yard. Loaders began lifting the debris into the recycling machines.
“The best you can hope for is to get as much good out of the bad,” Mulicka said.
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