How did you enter the recycling business? I like to say I grew up in the industry. I am a fourth-generation scrap metal recycler, and I started coming to the scrapyard as a kid with my dad, Mark, and younger brother, Brad. Both my brother and I wanted to make a little extra money as kids, so when we were approximately 10 years old, we began our scrap careers buying aluminum cans on Saturdays. During high school summers, I worked the front scale, answered the phones, and started buying from our industrial accounts.
All of our family trips growing up had recycling elements to them, from visiting local recycling companies and dumps on family cruises; attending ISRI meetings followed by visits to the Alamo in San Antonio and Walt Disney World in Orlando; visiting equipment manufacturers in Italy; and joining my dad on business trips to visit customers in China during summer break.
After high school, I went to the University of Victoria and earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree specializing in international business, followed by a Master of Global Business degree. In 2014, I was living in Austria finishing up my master’s degree when I decided to come back to Canada. After I arrived in Vancouver, my dad offered me an opportunity to attend and speak at a conference in Cuba a few months later. Needless to say, I started working with him the following Monday and haven’t looked back since.
Did you ever consider doing anything else for a career? Not really. I grew up hearing about the industry and all the adventures it took my dad on, and I wanted to be a part of it.
What do you like most about the recycling industry? We are the original environmentalists, and I am proud of the impact our industry has on saving the world. Additionally, I don’t know of any other industry that has the multigenerational friendships that we do in the scrap industry.
What do you like least about the industry? The industry is still relatively unknown. When people think of recycling, they tend to think about residential recycling. We have so many exciting career opportunities, and yet when I tell people what I do, most people do not realize the industry exists.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your company? The COVID-19 pandemic is having a massive impact on all aspects of our business. We have put in place preventive protocols and processes to continue operating safely. We are seeing drastic market declines, logistics challenges, and effects on the health and wellness of our employees in this stressful time. We have implemented social distancing practices, extensive cleaning programs, and daily toolbox talks to discuss how we are doing and whether additional preventive protocols are required. Safety comes first, and our goal is to maintain a healthy workforce while continuing our essential business.
How would you sum up your business philosophy? Be honest, be fair, work hard, treat people well, and empower the people around you along
What are the keys to success in the recycling industry? You need to be ready to work hard, not be afraid to get a little dirty, get involved, and develop relationships.
What lessons have you learned about business in your career? I think it is important to give a voice to what you believe in and be willing to put your name on the table when opportunities present themselves. Being a young leader and making your opinions known takes courage, but it is important to participate if you want a seat at the table.
What’s the strangest or funniest experience you’ve had in your career? As part of my undergraduate degree, I spent four months living and working in a printing factory in southern China. For fire-safety training, imagine approximately 3,000 people setting barrels of oil on fire and then taking turns extinguishing the fire. It was definitely a strange and memorable experience.
How do you personally gauge success? When I am happy, enjoying what I am doing, and able to balance my health and wellness, I feel most
Which of your traits do you like the most? I am adventurous and driven. When I see something I want, I work hard and go for it.
Is there anything about yourself you’d like to improve? I am a big-picture, strategic thinker, but I need to work on my organizational skills. My desk often lives in a state of organized chaos.
You’ve been a great supporter of and participant in ISRI over the years. Why do you think that’s important? Our company has been involved since the ISIS and NARI days [before they merged to form ISRI]. I am passionate about what ISRI does for the industry. The safety resources are priceless for companies in what is an inherently dangerous industry.
Also, as a Canada-based firm, we rely heavily on the United States as a trade partner. The lobbying that ISRI does in Washington, D.C., has a direct impact on us—your friendly neighbors to the north! I have attended the summer board meeting fly-ins on Capitol Hill and had the opportunity to talk about the importance of the USMCA trade agreement with representatives from Washington and Oregon.
Additionally, by serving on the Pacific Northwest Chapter board and ISRI national board over the past four years, I have been able to continue my own professional development. I have been chapter treasurer for three years, and I was elected chapter vice president this year. The skills I am developing by volunteering locally and nationally at ISRI I bring back to my own company, and they make me a stronger leader.
What are your favorite foods? In Vancouver we have some of the best Asian food in the world. Sushi is my favorite, and Chinese food is a close second.
Favorite drinks? Coffee, sparkling water, and red wine.
Favorite TV shows? I have been watching Survivor since season 1 and am currently in two Survivor fantasy tribe pools. If you are a fan and want to join my pool, let me know.
(Vancouver, British Columbia) That’s a tough one. Hong Kong and New York are high on the list. I also love the culture of Europe and how easy it is to travel there. Madrid and London are two of my favorite cities there.
What are your hobbies? Health and wellness is a passion of mine. Outside of work and spending time with friends and family, you can probably find me at a yoga class or at the gym. I also make organic soap.
What’s your passion? Travel. I have lived in six countries and explored over 50.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Kettle brand honey Dijon potato chips.
What makes you mad? People chewing gum with their mouth open.
Is there anything you still want to accomplish in your career, or have you achieved your goals? There are tons of things I still want to accomplish. I am just getting started.
Do you have any words of wisdom for the next scrap generation? Get involved with ISRI. You get to learn about what is going on in the industry, you have opportunities for your own professional development, and you meet awesome people. Reach out to your local ISRI chapter president to find out how you can get involved in the chapter, and connect with me or one of the other Young Executive Council co-chairs to discuss what opportunities there are at ISRI for young executives nationally. Coming up this summer, for example, is the Best Young and Brightest event in Pittsburgh. Send me a message on LinkedIn and I would be happy to discuss it further!