Greasecycle Founder and President Selected as North Carolina's Small Business Person of the Year

The U.S. Small Business Administration, the voice for more than 33 million small businesses and innovative startups, has selected Dylan Gehrken as North Carolina’s 2024 Small Business Person of the Year. Gehrken founded and leads Raleigh-based Greasecycle, a green company that converts food waste materials into renewable energy resources.

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Founder & President, Dylan Gehrken (Photo: Business Wire)

Founder & President, Dylan Gehrken (Photo: Business Wire)

The 38-year-old Durham resident will attend a special award ceremony in Washington, DC, this spring, and he is one of a small group of individuals now nominated for the National Small Business Person of the Year. Gehrken’s ascension as a nationally recognized SBA person of the year is a lesson in perseverance, vision, and in building a sustainable all-in-one solution to a commercial need.

“There are so many impressive people in North Carolina whose work is truly impactful, and I’m humbled and honored to represent our state as the Small Business Person of the Year,” said Gehrken. “I was introduced to sustainability decades ago during a pivotal time in my life and those lessons resonated with me. When it came time to start my own business, I wanted to find a way to repurpose something people overlooked and convert it into something that helped our planet, and had staying power. That’s how Greasecycle was born.”

Gehrken founded Greasecycle in 2009 with a windowless van, some blank contracts he created on his college laptop, and a hunger to get all the grease in his neighborhood. In 2012, Greasecycle built its own processing facility in Raleigh before opening a second Charlotte-area location in 2022, empowering them to recycle more discarded waste than anyone in the industry. Inside these facilities, solid matter is composted, extracted brown & yellow grease is converted into feedstock for the biodiesel industry and Sustainable Aviation Fuel, and wastewater is processed into clean water that is discharged into the local water system. Today, Greasecycle employs nearly 75 people and services most of the southeast with about 5000 customers.

"We have the great fortune of working with amazing small businesses every day – and we enjoy every minute,” said Elaine Fairman, Executive Director, Business Expansion Funding Corporation. “When the North Carolina Small Business Person nomination cycle was opened, our team knew Dylan would be this year’s nominee. Greasecycle’s expansion to the Charlotte market is a great project, and we are pleased to be a part of that. Dylan’s efforts to provide jobs for communities are outstanding and his efforts to protect our environment are beyond impressive.”

With a customer base that includes restaurants, commercial kitchens, and food manufacturers Greasecycle provides grease trap cleaning, waste processing, cooking oil recycling and preventative care. From 2020 to 2024, the company grew from 28 employees to 70 located in NC, SC & VA territories. Sales rose from $6.5 million in 2020 to over $22 million in 2022. Greasecycle is a 5 time honoree of Inc Magazine’s list of the 5000 fastest growing private companies in the United States. The company provides paid internships for college students who are mentored by the sales team. They also financially support environmental university research. They offer a “Greasecycle MBA” program for middle managers who meet as a cohort with a Duke MBA twice a month for 6 months who trains time management, employee management and feedback best practices, as well as the basics of business principles and performance tracking.

About Greasecycle

Established in 2009, Greasecycle is an all-in-one grease management resource for restaurants collecting used cooking oil, automatically scheduling grease trap pumping, offering line jetting maintenance, and distributing quarterly reimbursement payments to customers for their oil waste. As a full-service provider, Greasecycle hauls material to its two North Carolina facilities where 100% of the grease, water, and food particles are recycled into compost or feedstock for biofuel. Good for customers, good for the environment.