On the second day of ISRI2019, Jeremy Miller, recycler and president of the Minnesota State Senate, rose before the sun, laced up his running shoes, and left his hotel to join fellow ISRI members for a Fun Run with Skid Row Running Club. Miller, who is CFO of Wm. Miller Scrap Iron & Metal Co. in Winona, Minn., was excited that ISRI offered the activity to convention attendees—even if the 6 a.m. meetup time was a bit daunting. “When I saw the morning run on the schedule, I was super excited that the organization put on the run with the Skid Row Running Club,” he says.
Founded in 2012 by Judge Craig Mitchell of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Skid Row Running Club provides a running program for LA’s Skid Row neighborhood, and involves the larger community in supporting its members to overcome drug or alcohol abuse, and to achieve positive life goals.
“The stars really aligned to put the run together,” says Andy Golding, chief strategy officer at Kripke Enterprises in Toledo, Ohio. He chaired ISRI’s 2019 and 2020 annual convention and exhibition. He came up with the idea to organize a run for ISRI2019 attendees after reading surveys from previous meetings. ISRI members said networking was a main draw, and Golding felt a run would serve as a unique opportunity for attendees to form connections. “Bar events are great, but it’s hard to meet new people,” he says. “In an event like [a run] you already share a common interest. And at the end you’ve accomplished something, so when you see one of your fellow joggers at the convention later, you immediately have a friend.”
Though the run was a great success, gathering 150-200 attendees, Golding had no idea it would strike a deep chord for Miller. As he ran through the streets of downtown LA, he witnessed the deep poverty in the city. Even after the run, Miller came across people holding signs, or asking for assistance while walking between his hotel and the convention. “I knew I wanted to do something to help,” he says.
With that in mind, he called his wife, Janel, who was at home in Minnesota with their three sons. The couple discussed everything Miller had seen in LA and his desire to help. That phone call led to the development and launch of Be Good Mission, a hat company focused on comfort, promoting a positive way of life, and helping Americans in need.
A self-proclaimed hats connoisseur, Miller and his family love wearing baseball caps, but he often has a hard time finding hats that fit his head well. Janel noticed she had a similar issue. “As a female, I have a similar problem,” she explains. “So we tried to design a hat that we feel is a better fit and can fit a broad range of people, and we wanted to have a mission behind it.”
The company’s name, which appears on its signature-series hats, comes from the positive message that the couple has been telling their children ever since they can remember. “‘Be good’ is an important message for our family and, at the same time, it’s a positive message that resonates with people of all ages and backgrounds,” Miller says. “We want to encourage people to be good, especially at a time with so much negativity in our society, we wanted to promote a positive message with a mission behind it to help support people in need.”
Though it was initially delayed by COVID-19, Be Good Mission recently launched its direct-to-consumer website. “We’ve had some good success; we’re testing out different markets across the country. We’re also exploring custom-made hats if folks want to use our hat but put their logo on it,” Miller says.
The proceeds go toward helping to feed the hungry and helping homeless veterans. “For every signature series hat, we donate 15 meals to Feeding America, and 50% of the profits of the American flag hat, which is our first special edition hat, go to U.S.VETS, an organization that helps homeless veterans,” Miller says. The company also has an exciting partnership in the works to support a local children’s hospital. “We’re excited to explore more opportunities to team up with charitable organizations,” Miller adds.
When word of the hat company reached Golding, he understood completely how the LA run must have inspired Miller. “It was truly inspiring,” Golding agrees. “Attending an ISRI convention is a big-time commitment,” he adds. “ISRI does a great job of maximizing opportunities for attendees. Between the programming and the ancillary activities, it makes the conventions really worth attending.” He’s excited for what ISRI has in store for its 2022 convention in Las Vegas from March 21-24. “I know [ISRI Chair] Gary Champlin and [Convention Chair] Stephen Moss are going to come up with some really great things,” he says.
Miller can’t wait for ISRI2022, and plans to attend if his scheduling allows. He tries to go to as many ISRI events as he can. “Be Good Mission started at an ISRI event,” he reflects. “Scrap recycling is my livelihood, I live and breathe it every day.”
Images courtesy of Jeremy Miller.