ISRI Immediate Past Chair Gary Champlin Reflects on Tenure

This week’s Industry Voices is an excerpt from ISRI Immediate Past Chair Gary Champlin’s State of the Association address, delivered on March 22 during ISRI2022.

I believe strongly that no industry is stronger than its trade association. Having witnessed our trade association up close and at work these last two years, I can tell you with great confidence that our industry is strong!

An essential part of what makes ISRI Strong, and thus the recycling industry strong, is the diversity of commodities and geographical regions we represent. Our success is dependent upon bringing all these voices together, leveraging our respective strengths and amplifying the voice of recycling.

We are stronger together. That’s the basis of the OneISRI initiative that was started under [ISRI Past Chair] Brian Shine’s leadership, that I have built on during my term, and that [ISRI Chair] Brian Henesey is committed to continue going forward. Being united as OneISRI is the key to our future success.

OneISRI brings together all commodities within the ISRI chapters and regions. It broadens our member base regionally while strengthening the structure of our commodity divisions. That combination of both the geographic voice and the commodity voice has been our foundation. It is what makes ISRI the “Voice of the Recycling Industry.” When our members come together through our chapters, regions, divisions, and Board, there is no stopping us.

ISRI Strong is also reflected in our members overall safety record. Our insurance partner – RecycleGuard™ – has shown that ISRI members have a better safety record than the general industry, and ISRI members’ safety lead widens every year. Safety is a core value and cornerstone of ISRI. Under the leadership of ISRI’s vice president of safety Tony Smith, we are developing more and better ways for members to communicate that message with both virtual and live presentations. Thanks to our entire safety team for helping to keep us ISRIStrong.

Leading ISRI means always seeking ways to evolve our association into one that is better, stronger, and sustainable for our future. Safety is only one element of that process.  Sustainability refers to just about everything your business does to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability has 3 elements, expressed either by the three Ps – people, planet and profit – or “E, S and G”, which stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. Whichever way you look at it, sustainability is something that all of us will need to get familiar with very soon.

The government, the public, and businesses have all recognized the need for incorporating sustainability into our business models. Each of us – ISRI, the industry and our individual companies – need to tell our stories differently than we are used to. And ISRI is developing the tools to help you do that. This includes ways to help you identify what you may already be doing to promote sustainability in your operations, ways you can look for other things you can do to successfully demonstrate to your employees, customers, banks, communities, and others that you are a good company to work for, to allow in the neighborhood and do business with.

A key part of any sustainability program is ensuring a strong and diverse workforce. All of us know the challenges of labor shortages. That’s not a short-term problem, particularly for our industry. To that end, ISRI is finding ways to help us widen the pipeline for workers.

I am so proud and excited about an effort ISRI initiated last year focused on developing internships and apprenticeships for the industry through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and trade schools. These are all untapped resources that can help fill numerous positions available in the recycling industry.  This program –known as the Sustainability Careers Pathways program – is being led by Cheryl Coleman, ISRI’s vice president of sustainability. We are also actively supporting efforts started by several members working with people with disabilities as well as the formerly incarcerated.

It has been a challenging two years, but it’s also been a rewarding two years. Having the chance to lead this association, to fight at every level for our present and our future, has been an honor, a privilege, and very humbling.

I want to thank my fellow officers, as well as ISRI President Robin Wiener and our awesome ISRI staff. I also want to thank my team at Champlin Tire Recycling, and my wife Debra and family. I also want to thank all of our members for the hard work you have done getting our industry through the COVID pandemic, spreading our message to government and community leaders, and taking good care of the workers who make up our businesses.

I will leave you in good hands as Brian Henesey takes the wheel. I encourage you to show him the support you’ve given me. Thank you very much.