New West Coast Chapter President Sandy Brooks has been involved with ISRI on both the chapter and national level for years. You’d never guess that she was initially a bit reluctant to join ISRI — she was an outsider looking in as her background was in accounting. I got the chance to sit down and chat with Brooks about her new position as chapter president, why she was initially concerned about joining her chapter and how focusing on a bit on fun is part of her membership engagement plan.
Tell me about your background and how you ended up working in the recycled materials industry.
I started with SA Recycling about 15 years ago, and at that time I didn’t even know the metals recycling industry existed. I had an acquisition accounting background and SA had just come together as a joint venture of Sims Global and Adam’s Steel so, there was that acquisition accounting that needed to be done and they determined at that time that they’d need someone for the long haul. Since then, I’ve never looked back. I just really enjoy the industry and love the people in the industry.
What was your introduction to ISRI, and how did you get involved with the West Coast Chapter?
SA Recycling was already connected with ISRI. In fact, the year after I was hired, my CEO, George Adams, was the national chair. About five or six years after starting with SA, I was asked to be the treasurer of the West Coast Chapter of ISRI. At first, I was thinking ISRI being an industry association, that’s more for the people who are out there buying and selling the materials, our commercial people and the managers of our yards. I thought being in an administrative role as VP of finance maybe that wasn’t the right thing for me. But they finally talked me into it because they really needed a treasurer for the West Coast Chapter. I thought, I can do treasurer, I’m an accountant, that would make sense.
Tell me about your journey to become chapter president. Did you always have chapter leadership in mind, or did something spark that interest?
I served five years as treasurer, and they were going to renew me as treasurer again and I realized I know a lot about this industry too. I know more than just the finance side of it. I’ve learned so much in the years I’ve been with SA and with the chapter. I decided I want to move up within the chapter. I talked to Robin Wiener and she gave me the confirmation as did a few of the other people in the chapter. As an owner and CEO, George was very supportive of my involvement as well, which is so important. That’s when I moved up to second VP, then first VP, and now I’m president. I’ve been involved in the chapter now for many years, as well as involved on a national level — I was co-chair of the Women in Recycling Council for two years, I’ve been chair of the Audit Committee and I’ve attended most of the Council of Chapter Presidents meetings for several years now, even though I haven’t been an actual voting member of that council.
What are you hoping to accomplish during your tenure as chapter president?
My vision for the West Coast Chapter is to really liven things up a little bit. We have been really focused on legislation and will continue to be. So much has gone on in the state of California and all the states for that matter but we’re going to try and have some fun and get back to having some more meetings that just aren’t the standard legislative meeting, then board meeting, and then drinks and then dinner kind of thing. We’re trying to do some things that will bring some younger members in and other members that haven’t been active for a while. We’re going to do our first meeting June 21 at Topgolf in El Segundo, which is right by LAX, so anyone who’s flying in, it’s just a few minutes drive. The Topgolf experience should be pretty fun.
We’re also talking about doing some sporting events, maybe Angels or Dodgers games, things like that, and trying to combine a fun event with all of our serious initiatives.
The goal of the fun events is to get more members out. Membership engagement is really important to me, and I think it’s just been really tough through the pandemic and in the last several years. I really want to work on making sure we’re communicating with our members. We have a newsletter that we’re going to be starting up. That’ll be going out to members just to know what’s going on, not only at the chapter level, but everything that’s going on at the national level for them, just to make sure that they’re aware of everything we do and everything they get for their membership to this chapter.
Can you tell me more about the Topgolf event in June?
I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll be meeting and having dinner, drinks and hitting the green with Topgolf! The location is only minutes from LAX so it’s not too far for those flying in. I’ve never done Topgolf, but it sounds like even people like me who aren’t very good at golf or don’t have experience playing golf still have a fun time because there is a virtual experience along with a physical experience.
Normally, we allow people to register up until the same day as the meeting but with Topgolf we have to give them some advanced notice, so I encourage everyone to sign up as quickly as possible. There are sponsorship opportunities available to sponsor a bay at Topgolf as well.
I encourage everyone to come to see what we’re doing in the chapter. We do so much behind the scenes with legislative calls, with our lobbyist, so much is going on right now. The legislature in California is in session right now and there are a lot of bills that we’re watching with our lobbyist. Some that our lobbyist are going back on behalf of ISRI members and getting some of the wording changed in some pieces of legislation to help our position as an industry. There’s a lot going on there. I encourage everyone to come and join the meeting so that they can hear and see what the West Coast Chapter is doing for them.