Henderson entrepreneur recognized for GreenStone building product

(Las Vegas Review Journal 5-19-2012) Tourists, drink up. Scott McCombs needs your empty bottles. He has things to build. McCombs, founder of Henderson-based Realm of Design, recycles glass bottles into a building product called GreenStone, which he used in building his own 30,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 1188 Center Point Drive.
Virtually everything in the recently completed $1.4 million building next to Realm of Design's existing showroom has some recycled glass in it, McCombs said Friday as he showed a sample of GreenStone with particles of ground glass in the composite.
More than 500,000 beer bottles, weighing 290,000 pounds, went into making what McCombs calls the Morrow Royal Pavilion, named for the concept that recycling benefits tomorrow.
Reusing all that glass saves more than 400,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
The glass-block building's design was inspired by the Swarkestone Hall Pavilion in England, seen on the cover of the Rolling Stones' "Hot Rocks" greatest hits album. The company has launched a Facebook campaign to get the band to visit. Mick and the boys have not yet responded.
"I figured we couldn't get anybody's attention unless we did it in a big way," said McCombs, a construction craftsman who started the business in 1991 with his wife, Cindy.
Realm of Design has gotten some attention. It's been featured on the DIY network show, "This New House," and other programs, and has won numerous awards, including the Green Technology Award from Technology Business Alliance of Nevada.
GreenStone costs about the same as the company's aged-stone material, from $18 to $24 a square foot, and sales revenue has been $80,000 to $100,000 since the product was developed in late 2010, said Cindy McCombs, president of the company.
GreenStone can replace standard concrete in buildings, as well as fireplaces, mantles, gazebos, fountains, balustrades, columns and beams, Scott McCombs said.
Thirsty Las Vegas tourists keep the company in business. Each week Republic Services delivers about 145 tons of beer, wine and liquor bottles from Strip hotels to the 4-acre recycling facility at 1188 Center Point Drive. McCombs conservatively estimated the bottles coming off the Strip represent about $26 million in alcohol sales on an average weekend.
Glass is crushed into granular form and then mixed with other products, such as fly-ash. Poured into molds and allowed to dry, the mixture forms GreenStone.
McCombs moved to Las Vegas from Phoenix in 1989 to do construction work. He started Realm of Design when he couldn't find columns he needed for a custom home he was building.
"So I made some molds, and one thing led to another," he said. "The business grew so fast ... we've done thousands of molds."
At one time in the early 2000s, Realm of Design employed 56 people, expanding into California, Arizona and Oregon. When the economy slowed, McCombs cut his staff to eight and built the Morrow Hall Pavilion to keep people working and to reinvest in the company, he said.
"We weathered the storm, but we're still rowing upstream," McCombs said. "I can't wait for the phone to ring to order product."
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