As the new president of ISRI’s Pittsburgh Chapter, Aaron Thomas is looking forward to representing members on both the local and national levels to make sure their concerns and needs are heard and addressed. In this edition of Faces of ISRI, Thomas discusses his background, his goals as chapter president, and how his background has prepared him for this new journey.
Tell me about your background and how you ended up working in the recycling industry.
I started in small scale demolition during summer breaks in college and part of my bonus pay was cashing in recyclable items that were collected during these clean out projects. I immediately fell in love with the recycling business and ended up getting hired by Sims Metal Management in Pittsburgh. I initially started out as a recyclable materials inspector and moved my way up through various operations and commercial roles in the company. In 2012, I left Sims Metal Management and started with TMS International as a trader in the Raw Materials & Optimization Group. As a trader for TMS, I was able to get a great understating of ferrous trading and steelmaking. In 2019, I was promoted to my current position as Vice President of Brokerage- Pittsburgh Region.
What was your introduction to ISRI, and how did you get involved with the Pittsburgh Chapter?
As a new guy, I was always encouraged to attend ISRI events for the networking benefits. I believe my first event was the Pittsburgh Chapter Election Night at the Lamont in 2010.
Tell me about your journey to become president of the Pittsburgh Chapter. Did you always have chapter leadership in mind, or did something spark that interest?
I had friends that were on the board for the Pittsburgh Chapter who talked me into becoming a board member. In 2016, my TMS colleague Aaron Plitt came up with the idea of joining the executive board and asked me to run that same year for the treasurer position. From there, I worked my way up the ranks.
When you found out you were elected chapter president, what was your reaction?
I was happy to have the support of the chapter’s board and the chapter as a whole behind me.
How has your career thus far prepared you for this new journey as chapter president?
I have been fortunate enough to work in various roles throughout the industry. My experiences have made me well rounded so that I can relate to the issues that chapter members deal with on a daily basis.
What are you hoping to accomplish during your tenure as president of the Pittsburgh Chapter?
I would like to continue to show the public and our legislators the benefits of recycling and break the old stigma of the “junk business.” Our member companies are legitimate businesses that contribute back to their communities. I want to make sure that their concerns are heard on the national level and that proper systems and awareness are in place for the recycling industry to continue to thrive for years to come.
When you’re not working or engaged in ISRI-related activities, what do you enjoy doing?
I am very involved with my child’s sports. I spend most of my free time coaching their hockey, baseball, and soccer teams.