Reflections on college friendships and scrap plastic trading

Our company, BlackBridge Investments, was founded by a couple of entrepreneurs and experienced commodities traders, but we originally met in college. The college years are an intense, memorable and highly formative experience, and so it’s no surprise that many college friendships last a lifetime and lead to big opportunities down the road.

We got together recently with a few of our other old college friends for a night out in New York City, and it occurred to us that a lot of what you need to know when you’re choosing your friends in college is the same kind of “emotional intelligence” and acumen that you need to know when choosing trading partners in scrap plastic recycling.

Here are a few things we’ve learned from our college friendships that relate to building a trading business in scrap plastic recycling:

  • Are you comfortable together? When you’re in college, you spend a lot of time with your friends, sharing a dorm or fraternity house or apartment together, going out to eat or out for drinks, or just hanging out and watching TV. You learn a lot about people just from how they act in these everyday social situations, and the proximity of communal living makes it important to surround yourself with people that you’re comfortable with. The best college friendships happen when you have similar personalities, similar energy levels, and similar interests. In the same way, when you’re building relationships with trading partners in scrap plastic recycling, it helps to have a fundamental level of comfort working together. If someone seems abrasive, impatient, hostile or otherwise off-putting to you, you’re not going to want to do business with them no matter what kinds of great deals they claim to offer.
  • Do you trust each other? College friendships are about more than goofing around and going to parties – ultimately, college friends develop a close bond based on trust. You want to know that your college friends have got your back, and that you’ll stick up for them too. Even when college friends bust each other’s chops a bit, you can tell that they all like each other and support each other and want to help each other succeed. In the same way, you need to feel confident that you can trust your trading partners in the scrap plastic recycling business. Can you count on these people to keep their word?
  • Do you have similar interests, business acumen and similar passion for the business? We’re trying to introduce some new innovations and new ways of thinking to the scrap plastic industry. It helps to find trading partners who are similarly wired for innovation. Just as you make the closest friendships with people who share your interests, you often find the best business relationships from people who are on the same level and who share a similar vision for how they want to run their business.

College friendships often last a lifetime and it’s because you share a special bond from having gone through a unique experience and a special time of life together. In the same way, we believe that scrap plastic trading relationships can be long-term and based on mutual trust and mutual benefit.