The former Phoenix finds its niche and its passion in recycling


Brent DuBois ’01 (Business Administration), president and owner of Logistics Recycling, Inc., is a man on a mission, with a philosophical twist on a venerable sustainability mantra: Reduce. Reuse. To recycle. Rethink.

Rethink?

Yes, think again. Thinking differently about how and why we produce what we produce, package what we package and buy what we buy.

But we are already getting ahead of history. Let’s go back a bit.

When DuBois graduated from high school in Green Bay, Wis, he knew he wanted to go to college and study business. He also knew that he wanted to avoid going into debt. This made UW-Green Bay the logical place.

“I had the shuttle experience, not the dorm experience, which was a trade-off that worked well for me,” he said. “I had this great school in my own backyard, I was able to take full-time classes and work almost full-time, which allowed me to pay for books and tuition as I went. I graduated debt-free with a top-notch education and my internship landed me my first job in the business world. »

In many ways, the lessons learned from that first job came full circle for DuBois and ignited the passion he has for the work he does today.

“My first job was born out of an internship to which Professor Don McCarthy referred me. It was in the sales of a company in Green Bay that owned a number of television stations in the United States,” DuBois recalled. “I moved on to work for the company’s sales manager, which required me to travel a lot to train sales teams in other parts of the country. I really enjoyed helping the company grow and expand its market.

“In 2006, the owners decided they wanted to sell their stations, and I was involved in breaking up the business,” he said. “It helped me realize that I really am a builder. I love the challenge of taking the risk to help businesses grow.

At that point, DuBois turned to another skill he developed while at UW-Green Bay. During his studies, he had served as a volunteer firefighter in Bellevue. In this role, he acquired knowledge and expertise in the field of hazardous materials and became an on-call field technician for the waste transport company that became Veolia Propreté.

“I joined Veolia ES Special Services as Sales Manager just as they were dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” DuBois recalls. “I discovered the value we could offer as a ‘solution provider’ for a business. Customers called us for help and we figured out how to make it work.

“Over the next eight years, we grew their marine division and grew it from a million-dollar revenue stream to a multi-million dollar stream,” DuBois said. “I was traveling again, but this time I was going to places like Trinidad, Brazil, Europe and China.

“When Veolia decided to retire from the maritime business in 2014 and I helped them get out of it, I realized again how much I love the challenge of growing a business,” said DuBois. . “I didn’t know what I would do next, but I knew I wanted to travel less so I could be home with my family.”

It was a French colleague who opened the door to him this time. The French company had developed technology that extracted recyclable metals from incinerator ashes that were dumped in landfills. Recycled metals were reintroduced into production as a raw material for new metal products. They wanted DuBois to lead their new subsidiary as CEO of LAB USA, which has built waste-to-energy plants in Minnesota, Washington and Maine.

“It opened my eyes to the kind of stuff we throw in landfills,” DuBois said. “There are so many things that are far from end of life, but they end up in landfill. It felt good to get useful metals out of landfills and rebuild a new business.”

In 2019, DuBois learned of an opportunity to acquire a family-owned recycling company in Green Bay and implement its corporate and sustainability philosophies: be the solution provider for your customers and work upstream to avoid unnecessary landfill.

“My business partners and I were able to acquire Lamp Recyclers, Inc., which had been in business since 1993,” DuBois said. “The main business of the company was recycling fluorescent light bulbs, but I knew there was an opportunity to expand it to intercept and recycle some of the waste I had seen in landfills. I had also seen small businesses struggle to find affordable ways to manage their own waste streams because they weren’t generating enough volume for large waste companies, but didn’t have the internal resources to manage their larger small amounts. It has become our niche. »

Since acquiring the company, DuBois has nearly doubled the company’s annual revenue and workforce, expanded the original facility to accommodate new recycling streams, and established two new locations in Wisconsin. . The Green Bay headquarters site still recycles fluorescent bulbs and ballasts, and breaks down other electronic equipment for reuse and recycling. A second location in Green Bay which it calls a ‘mini material recovery facility’ which manages cardboard, plastic and paper waste, and the third in Somerset collects various hazardous and medical waste and transports it to d other facilities that reprocess, recycle or dispose of them. This facility serves western Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

“In a nutshell,” DuBois explained, “we provide collection and disposal services to businesses that generate universal waste, hazardous waste, and medical waste.” Universal waste includes things that everyone produces, such as televisions, light bulbs and batteries. Hazardous wastes include corrosive and flammable liquids. And medical waste includes waste generated in health care facilities, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, dental offices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories. .

In addition to expanding the business, DuBois also changed the company name slightly to reflect its expanded focus.

“We retained Lamp Recyclers, Inc. because it was well known and this workflow continued to be a mainstay of our business,” DuBois explained. “We added Logistics Recycling, Inc. to the name because it reflected the solution-focused nature of our company and our people. Now we are simply known as LRI. We specialize in handling the details for customers, so they only have to make one call for a complete solution instead of trying to develop a solution and manage all the pieces themselves. Our business has grown primarily through word of mouth, as one customer tells another. There is a real need there. »

Even as DuBois and the LRI team grow their business, they apply their expertise to the growth of two other programs in Green Bay.

LRI has partnered with ASPIRO Vocational Rehabilitation Services to lease a portion of unused ASPIRO warehouse space, where ASPIRO customers receive and process reusable cardboard boxes for the Green Bay offices of Nature’s Way. This creates jobs for ASPIRO customers and allows LRI to sell the boxes and reduce waste disposal costs for Nature’s Way. This puts almost 95% of the boxes in a closed-loop system and keeps them out of the landfill.

ASPIRO and LRI are developing a similar program with Sargento Foods for the management of reusable boxes.

“As more companies see the benefit of being intentional in their waste planning, we can reduce the amount of materials sent to landfills,” DuBois said. “It’s a profitable and environmentally friendly way to do business. less waste and a better bottom line.

LRI is also exploring opportunities to work with the Environmental Management and Business Institute at UW-Green Bay. DuBois is excited to bring his experience and perspective to EMBI.

“I think every high school and freshman should visit a dump,” DuBois said. “It would open their eyes to the need to rethink how we can reduce the amount of stuff we throw away. And it’s not just the packaging. I would like manufacturers to think longer term about the life cycles of their products and what happens to them at the end of their useful life.

“If we can get today’s business students to think this way,” DuBois said, “we can influence the future of manufacturing and recycling.”

It seems fitting that a UW-Green Bay student who began his business career with an internship suggested by his business professor and who used his entrepreneurial energy to develop a thriving recycling service has come full circle in his passion and its philosophy: to develop the campus and the community where it all began.

Story by freelance writer Jim Streed

Photo by Dan Moore, University Marketing and Communications

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