What does Steve Jobs have to do with plastic recycling?
On October 5, 2011, Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away. This was a terribly sad day for his family and friends, and on a less personal but still important level, it was also a sad day for everyone who loved the products, ideas and innovations that Steve Jobs created and championed during his career.
Although BlackBridge Investments is a trading company in the scrap plastic industry (a very different business from mobile electronic devices), we have gotten a lot of inspiration from the example of Steve Jobs. In this article, we’d like to reflect on his legacy and discuss some ideas for how our industry can learn from his career.
Steve Jobs was a master innovator, inventor and creative visionary. He inspired millions (billions?) of people with his relentless urge to question the status quo. Steve Jobs once said that he wasn’t in the business of building computers; he was in the business of building a “bicycle for the mind.” He completely reinvented people’s conception of what a “computer” could be. (Apple is no longer known as “Apple Computer,” and that is only one simple, visible example of how Steve Jobs transformed his company and his industry.)
We don’t claim to be visionary geniuses on the level of Steve Jobs, but in our own way, BlackBridge Investments was founded on innovation. We got started in the recycled plastic trade because we saw an opportunity to create a new way of doing business in this industry. We want to create a way of buying and selling scrap plastic that is more professional, more efficient, and more energetic. We believe that there are big opportunities in this business for people who are ready to innovate, think a little faster, hustle a little harder, and get some deals done.
One of the many things that made Steve Jobs great as a product designer and leader was that he was relentlessly pushing the limits of what was possible. He believed in the principle of constantly innovating. At Apple, the design and development teams had huge internal debates about each new product launch. They were forward thinking, reinventing, constantly analyzing the angles on the problem and trying to outdo themselves – even if that means disrupting their business model, they wanted to create the disruption before someone else did it for them.
These same principles are what we believe in with everything we do in the scrap plastic trade. In the same way as Apple, we want to be the company that disrupts the standard model of our industry. We see ourselves as being our biggest competitor – we’re not worried about competitors outside our building; we’re worried about finding new ways to outdo ourselves. We want to be the company that puts ourselves out of business. my ip . We try to constantly reinvent, find the weaknesses, close the loopholes and move on.
New technology has opened up exciting new ways of working in the plastic recycling industry, and our company is an early adopter of some of the best-of-class technology solutions, including our own proprietary software and customized databases. I remember a few years ago when I first got my start as a commodities trader, I had to thumb through the Yellow Pages and jot down phone numbers to call and pre-qualify prospective scrap plastic buyers and sellers.
Too often, plastic recycling has a reputation as a somewhat “sleepy” industry. We’re here to pound on the doors and ring the doorbell and sound the alarms to wake everybody up! There are exciting opportunities if you’re willing to re-think your assumptions about “how it’s supposed to work.”
Just like Steve Jobs, let’s all take a hard look to challenge our own status quo, and see what we can do to transform it for the better.
How has Steve Jobs inspired you and your business? What elements of the plastic recycling “status quo” would you most like to change? Who are the most innovative companies that you’ve worked with in the plastic recycling business?