1 How is the local economy?
The local economy is great for us. Overall, our industry is somewhat recession-resistant since waste is generated on a fairly consistent basis.
Also, we serve the pharmaceutical industry, which is a strong, growing part of the health care industry and happens to be our main customer base.
2What is a common misconception about environmentally friendly waste handling?
The most common misconception is that environmentally friendly waste handling is dramatically more expensive than its alternatives.
In reality, we are able to be competitive with the very large multibillion dollar companies that do not offer a sustainable waste-solution alternative.
3 What is the biggest challenge in your industry and why?
I would say maintaining cost structure. We have found it relatively easy to grow our top line, our revenues, but the cost structure, particularly health care costs for employees and things like that, is a big challenge to try and stabilize your ever-increasing costs.
Another one would be that there are a lot of regulatory aspects in our industry, so keeping up with them can sometimes be challenging and costly.
4 What significant changes do you see in the next several years in terms of sustainability?
It is a very challenging environment out there to deal with recycling. There seems to be a misunderstanding in the community as to what can and cannot be recycled economically.
What we've learned is that people think you can recycle just about everything. You can recycle many things, but recycling some materials can be extremely costly in terms of material handling and trucking costs.
We have to be both economically and environmentally sustainable, and a lot of people don't see that part of it.
5 What's the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Knowledge, especially education, is power. You need to get out and understand what the customer's needs are and why.
I have learned that my time spent out in the field trying to better understand customer problems is time well spent.
Editor's note: Appearing periodically, 5 Questions With spotlights a professional's take on industry issues. If you have a suggestion for a subject for this feature, please email Bill Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.