Zach Mallin, vice president at Mallin Companies, Inc., and past president and chairman of the board for the ISRI Mid-America Chapter, has been named the recipient of the 2024 Young Executive of the Year. He will be receiving the award during the closing general session of the ISRI2024 convention this April.

ISRI News had the opportunity to talk to Zach about winning the award, his experience in the industry, his personal volunteer work and more.

Congratulations on being selected as the 2024 Young Executive of the Year. Could you go into the experience of being selected, how that happened and how you felt?

Thank you very much. I’m very honored to be receiving this award. Late last year, when the nominations began, actually our office manager, Sharon Hall, nominated me for this award. We went through some of my past history, work experience, and some philanthropy and volunteer work, which was nice to comb back through that and to be able to put that on my resume and my nomination. Just a few weeks back, I learned that I was receiving this award and again, very honored. It’s really neat to be recognized amongst my peers of executives and throughout the industry.

How did you get into the recycled materials industry?

I’m the fourth generation in our family business here in Kansas City. We’re specifically a wire processor; we recycle aluminum and copper wire. When I was about 16 years old, just working in the summertime at our facility, I really fell in love with the industry. Coming out of school, when I graduated, I joined the company back in 2014 and have been working here ever since. So, I really just kind of fell in love with the industry when I was a child and have been learning so many different aspects of the recycled materials industry; it’s been a great decade so far.

What are some of the most fascinating things about the industry itself as a whole?

I think one of the most fascinating parts of our industry is just recognizing the scale of how large and how deep our industry relates throughout the general economy. If you really think about it, the recycling of our materials is truly an entire life cycle going from processing scraps and eventually turning those materials all the way into a new product that can be used again. I think that people may not realize how vast our industry is and just how many people are involved and what economic scale it [is]. It truly impacts not only our national economy, but international [economies].

You’ve done a lot of advocacy work with lawmakers in your area related to the recycled materials industry. Could go into that?

Through my experience working with our Mid-America chapter with ISRI, I’ve been fortunate to get a good glimpse of the local, state level legislative processes. We work closely with our lobbyists here in Missouri and you know there’s been — especially in the last few years — a lot of legislation that’s being written just to kind of combat some certain things mainly involving catalytic converters but also metal theft and other things relating to our industry. We’ve had a good opportunity to work with our lobbyists, get down to the capitol, testify in front of the state legislators and give them our opinion; really educate them about our industry, something they’re not very familiar with most of the time. Hopefully we can offer some insight and help tweak the legislation so that everybody wins and it’s effective so that everyone can benefit.

How did you initially get involved with ISRI?

I’ve been around the industry most of my life. My dad was fairly involved [with ISRI] when he was moving up within our company; that was something that I wanted to definitely keep in touch with. I first got involved with the Mid-America Chapter at the secretary level, and then moving up the ranks through treasurer, vice president, president, and currently chairman of the board. Over the last 10 years, this experience has been great. Getting to know how each chapter works, how it’s all correlated on a national level with ISRI and see a lot of good things and meet a lot of people, you know. Also just understanding on a national level how ISRI is operating and how each region is affected, it’s been a really good experience for me so far.

What’s a key motivator that’s made you so active and engaged on both the chapter and national level?

I think it’s important to give back to our industry. ISRI provides us with a lot of opportunities and a lot of resources. I think that it’s important for us to be able to volunteer and promote those elements of our trade association. I think it’s important that people are educated and know exactly what ISRI is doing for our companies and our chapters specifically. I wanted to get involved to be able to grow this, to be able to reach out, you know, understand from a national level what’s going on and then being able to relay that information back to our chapter members.

Again, I think it’s very important that some of the smaller players on a local level understand the scale at which ISRI national has put together resources for our companies. We need to continue to volunteer. We need to continue to promote people participating and joining ISRI, which I think we’ve done a great job in, especially over the last three or four years. Membership growth has been tremendous.

Specifically, to the young executives, you know, at this point in my career, there’s far more young executives than I recall when I first started in this industry. I think that we’ve done a nice job by promoting certain events and times for people to meet and to network. These have all been important activities to engage and inform the young executives.

Could you go into other volunteer work you’ve been involved with?

A lot of my volunteer work at a personal level has been with Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care. There I served on the sponsorship committee as well as a foundation board member with that organization. This has just been a passion of mine and my family’s. We’ve experienced a few family members that we’ve lost that have been in the Kansas City Hospice House previously, and I truly think it’s a fascinating organization. The amount of care that they serve the families and the ill individuals, it really makes you feel great as a family when you’re going through a very tough time. They also offer so many other resources. They offer resources for children that have lost parents or parents that have lost children at an early age. I think it’s a great organization. It’s very well run here in Kansas City, and I’m very happy to volunteer my time and efforts towards bettering Kansas City Hospice House.

What’s the next big goal for you and for Mallin Companies? What’s the next big milestone?

Specifically, to ISRI and winning this award, I’d like to continue to promote the young executives, making sure that these folks are engaged, continuing to have certain events, exclusive events for the younger generation. There are kids coming out of college now at this point that are entering our industry and I think it’s important for them to get to know what we do and also give them a network of individuals that they’re comfortable with. I think it’s a pretty welcoming group. I’m very proud of the other young executives. I stand beside a very, very good group of individuals. The next step is to continue to build this network, continue to educate the young executives and teach them more about our industry. Continue to continue to grow. I’d say that’d be the same thing for our company. Always looking for new ideas and the next development. So, we’re going to keep pushing forward and hopefully can grow our business and our network and continue to have a positive impact on the industry.

Was there anything you wanted to go into?

I appreciate the opportunity and just very fortunate that I was able to receive this award. It really means a lot. We do the volunteer work to better the industry and the individuals, but it certainly feels very rewarding being acknowledged. I’m very lucky and I appreciate the opportunity.

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno

Arnulfo Moreno is a Communications Manager at ISRI. He is fascinated by the innovation and sustainability found in the recycling industry. He graduated from The Catholic University of America where he majored in Media Studies and minored in Spanish. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his collection of short stories he hopes to one day finish writing.