Where were you born?
I was born July 11, 1979, in Dallas, Texas.
What is your educational background?
I attended some college but did not graduate.
I married my wife Devon in 2012, and we have three daughters—Ryan (8), Isabella (7), and Molly (5).
When and how did you enter the recycling industry?
It’s in my blood. I’m third-generation in the scrap metal recycling business. In the 1950s, my grandfather, Bob Goldberg, started working for Commercial Metal Co. in Dallas. Then my dad, Kenny, graduated from college in 1974 and started working at CMC’s Lubbock, Texas, yard.
After being there for a year, and being turned down for a raise, he moved back to Dallas, and—in 1976—founded a scrap metal recycling company named Gold Metal Recyclers. As a kid, I spent a lot of time at the yard, mostly goofing off and annoying people, but I also was given some jobs and tasks. In those years, I learned parts of the business and overall gained an appreciation for the company and the industry.
In 1997, my dad and uncle, along with future partner Read Langford, started a new yard in Houston named Spectrum Metals. That’s where I began working full-time in 2001 at 21 years old.
Starting at Spectrum was a great opportunity for me to learn while not having the pressure of being thrown into the rapidly growing family operation in Dallas that I had known as a kid. Also, I’d grown up around many of the staff at Gold Metal—people who had helped my dad build the company and who had earned their places—and I wanted to earn my own place just the same.
I saw Spectrum as the perfect opportunity to learn the business and chart my own path. While I was nervous and scared to begin real work, I fell in love with the business in my first week. I got to do a bit of everything, from unloading trucks to paying customers to balancing the cash drawer—whatever was needed. I learned the art of the business, from the ground up. After three years there, in 2004, I returned to Dallas and started working at Gold Metal. Then, in 2011, Gold Metal and Spectrum Metals were sold. My father and I later started Geomet Recycling, in 2017.
What have been your most rewarding professional achievements?
I’m proud that Geomet has not only survived but grown in our first five years. We started with less than 15 people, and today we’re at 90 or so. We’ve had bumps and bruises along the way, and I feel we actually solidified as a company throughout the pandemic. There was something about that time that motivated us to come together—and we got through it. That experience shaped our character to be who we are today.
Most rewarding personal achievements?
My family. My wife had a career of her own as a speech therapist, mainly working alongside children with special needs, but she decided to be a full-time mom for our girls, and she is an amazing mother. Her job is much more demanding than mine! And our three daughters are just awesome kids.
What are you passionate about?
I’m a sports junkie—both college and professional. And although it sounds hokey, I’m passionate about self-improvement, about getting better at life. I try to learn from my mistakes and experiences. I’m a passionate person in general. When I do things, I go pretty hard. I wake up every morning excited for the day.
Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
Probably the fact that I don’t have a college degree. Also, while my family is Jewish, we do a pretty big Christmas celebration every year with my wife’s mom, who is Catholic. We have lights and a tree and everything, which probably makes the neighbors scratch their heads!
If you could improve anything about yourself, what would it be?
Structure and organization. Those aren’t natural traits of mine, so I have to be sure to put the right people in place at Geomet who excel at holding us together.
When and why did GEOMET Recycling decide to join ISRI and the Gulf Coast Region?
We joined from the beginning because I felt it was the right thing to do. ISRI and GCR do a lot of good for our industry in terms of advocacy, networking, and more.
Which GCR leadership positions have you held thus far?
I accepted a GCR board position just over a year ago because I wanted to give back and be part of the action. I always appreciated ISRI and chapter officers who took time away from their companies and personal lives to volunteer and help the industry. I felt that being more engaged was the right thing to do, and I’ve really enjoyed the experience thus far. I also serve as GCR’s liaison to the ISRI Women in Recycling Council.
That has been a blast for me, including getting to serve as a moderator on a panel the council sponsored at the 2022 ISRI convention in Las Vegas.
What benefits have you received from your GCR involvement?
Knowledge—of what’s going on in the market, of governmental impacts on our industry, of what’s happening in Texas and other regions, and more. I also value the networking. I’ve built relationships with all types of people—some of whom have become customers, some of whom have become friends, and some of whom are competitors. What’s awesome, though, is that there’s never competitive talk or price talk, or company talk—it just never comes up. It’s just a group of people genuinely trying to make the industry better.
What are the major challenges facing your company and the overall recycling industry today?
Markets got really crummy really quickly, beginning in the middle of this year. And I think most people expect the downturn to continue into 2023. Plus, with inflation, the cost of doing business is more expensive.
And then there’s the long lead times for equipment. Geomet is moving to new quarters, and we’re feeling the ongoing supply-chain issues for parts, equipment, contractor labor, and more. And our industry continues to face challenges from those who don’t understand our business and who don’t view us in a positive light. We just have to keep advocating for ourselves and helping people in our respective communities.