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‘I want us to be the Disney of scrap!’

US entrepreneur Brandi Harleaux is hardly the typical recycler; nor is she a typical ceo. She has two degrees in psychology and worked at Disney before taking over the family company, South Post Oak Recycling Center, based in Houston, in 2020. She is eager to leave her own mark on the industry.

First of all, congratulations on making the Recycling International Top 100 this year!

‘Thanks, it’s such an honour to be included in the Top 100. I didn’t expect it but it’s very exciting. I’m in great company, too, and I have the utmost respect for people like John Sacco and Robin Wiener.’

It’s been a rocky couple of years. How did your business handle that?

‘On the whole, business has been good although we saw a 40% decline in revenue during the first year of Covid. I’m proud to say we ended 2021 more than 65% over our projected goals, the highest revenue we’ve seen since the start of the business in 1994.’

Any big plans for the future?

‘I want to grow our geographical footprint outside of the US in the next five years. I’m particularly interested in pursuing prospects in the Caribbean and South Africa. It’s still at an early stage but I know there is so much more to the scrap scene than on our domestic market. I want South Post Oak to be part of the global recycling community.’

How are you using your unique know-how in the recycling sector?

‘I was in charge of global leadership and organisational development at Disney – there isn’t a clear connection to scrap, I know. On the plus side, my career has equipped me with creativity and curiosity to pursue new opportunities in recycling. Ultimately, I want South Post Oak to become the Disney of the scrap scene.

There is no need to have a dirty, disorganised scrapyard, as so often is the case. Or to have people barge into your office whenever they feel like it, yelling at you that they need this or that. I strive for excellence and transparency. This means a clean and tidy yard, scheduled appointments, organised fleet and a professional atmosphere.’

What interests you when it comes to psychology?

I love the idea of blending people and business. I’m most interested in what motivates people, how to design and develop organisations and how to take people through organisational change.’

Read the full interview in our upcoming issue >>

See the full TOP 100 list here >>

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