Leading change Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010

When Sandy Rosen was asked to take over as CEO of the recycling segment of Great Lakes Recycling in the 1990s, the company was doing poorly and had low employee morale due to recent salary cuts and the fact that the top management had left the company to create a competing organization.

He knew there was an urgency upon him, so he first invested close to half a million dollars to install state-of-the-art equipment to have the first single-stream sorting facility in Michigan. This was appealing because there was no need to sort the materials before bringing it into the recycling plant, and it led to a significant increase in the tonnage it received for recycling. The advanced technology also helped GLR improve its bottom line by allowing most of the waste to be packaged and sold rather than sent to a landfill.

On top of this effort, Rosen also decided to gradually get out of the waste collection business in order to focus on the company’s core competencies — recycling — and to not be seen as a competitor by its clients, waste haulers.

But business is about more than the numbers, too, so Rosen also focused on his employees, as well. While the recession did result in a few layoffs, it was less than 5 percent of the work force that was let go, and he was able to reinstate all pay cuts to employees at the beginning of the year. He also hired the Dale Carnegie Center to create custom classes to teach and train employees to help them further their skills.

As a result of all of these efforts, employees are happier, and GLR grew from one to eight facilities within 10 years, and today, the company receives and processes more than 2 million pounds of residential recyclables a day.

How to reach: Great Lakes Recycling, (586) 779-1310 or www.go-glr.com