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Recycle Away Celebrates its 5 Year Anniversary

Posted by Emily Bellmore on 11/21/2014 to Public Education

Let’s explore Recycle Away a bit more in depth and see how they have evolved from “then to now.” I had the chance to get together with Web Developer, James “Jay” Gelter for a Q&A session on the company and how they got to be where they are today.

Q: Tell us about Michael (the owner) and how he was inspired to start Recycle Away.

A: Michael started this company out of his attic. He had been working in recycling his whole career. He founded Recycle Away to provide a solution to a problem getting in the way of the public space recycling movement. Anyone who wanted to start a recycling program, be they a large corporation or country school, needed one thing to begin: containers. While there were plenty of manufacturers out there creating a huge variety of products for collecting recyclables, there was no good place to go to see all these options side-by-side. Many people also don't know where to begin in choosing what containers would be best for their organization's needs, and there was no place to go to talk to experts and receive advice. He wanted to change that…

Q: What was it like when you first joined the company?

A: By the time I joined the company, three and a half years ago, quite a bit of progress had been made, though an outsider might not have noticed. From Michael working alone in his attic, we'd become a team of four, working in an old warehouse space with bare walls and chipping paint on the floors. By that winter, we were a team of five, working tirelessly at our desks wearing our winter coats, as are heating was virtually non-existent.

Q: You’ve paired up with some big names in your five years of business. What's it like working with large corporations vs. some of your smaller companies?

I was brought on as a graphic designer and to do some minor web work. I remember quite well the excitement we all felt then as we worked on our biggest project we'd ever had at that time. PNC Bank wanted custom designed containers for all their locations across the country. It was a huge team effort, I worked the design, Michael and the sales team counseled the customer, and our admin team (and by team I mean Martha) helping coordinated the challenges of shipping to hundreds of locations simultaneously. And through it all, we made sure we gave all our other customers, even those buying a single low-cost container, the same level of customer service we were giving to PNC.

Q: How has Recycle Away grown over the years?

A: From that point on we've done nothing but grow, taking on bigger projects, and more and more smaller ones. We are now a team of nine in the office, with numerous contracted support teams out of office. We're still in that same old warehouse space, but we've knocked down a few walls while painting others, sanded some floors, and of course, added a few heaters. Martha now heads the administrative department, as opposed to being its sole member. Mairi, who was first hired to be our second salesperson ever, now manages a team of five sales and customer service reps. I myself have gone from doing the occasional graphics work and simple web tasks to be and lead designer and manager for both our sites.

A day in any of our shoes has changed a lot from what it use to be. Though some things are the same. We still work for the same reason Michael started Recycle Away in the first place: To be there for anyone taking their first steps into the world of recycling and helping them build a successful program built around the ideal containers.

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