Star City Six: Kelley McReynolds
Mid America Recycling provides residential and commercial services to clients nationwide. Kelley McReynolds is the General Manager of Mid America Recycling’s Lincoln facility.
Tell us a little about your business.
Mid America Recycling (MAR) began operations in 1979 in response to the passage of Iowa’s Bottle Bill. During the height of the company in the late 2000s, MAR expanded to become the nation’s largest privately-held recycling company, with a value of $200 million through recycling over 1.5 billion pounds annually. Following some buyouts and name changes, the original MAR management team reunited to buy back the company and return it to a steady, organic growth path within its geographic footprint. Our professional management, plant and administrative team has years of specialized experience in the recycling industry and strive to make the process of recycling materials quick and easy. We manage your resources so you can manage your business.
How did you get started in the business?
I started in 1996 as a sorter at the age of 20. I was just a young kid who needed a job. I learned to operate the different equipment during my first year and continued to learn more about the operations and customers. Over the years, I worked my way up through the company: supervisor, plant manager, traffic manager, etc. Then in 2005, I was given the opportunity to run my own plant. I guess you could say I grew up in the business.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
There have been several, but I would have to say my first startup of a single stream recycling system. We began the project in 2006 with the intentions of purchasing new equipment, moving to a new building, and starting the new system on time. A year later, the markets crashed and the economics of the project changed. We made it work in our existing facility with a combination of new pieces of equipment and a lot of refurbishing of an old system that was removed from a sister plant. That system is still efficiently operating today.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
The opportunity to be brought in by my mentors as a member of their recycling plant ownership group.
Tell us a little about your family.
I have a wonderful fiancé who supports me in every way. I also have a son who I admire greatly. He is studying business marketing at the University of Nebraska. I could go on and on about him but simply put, I am so proud of his accomplishments and the man he is becoming!
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
Becoming a parent. It really increased my drive to succeed in anything I do.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
I love the water and enjoy time on my boat. During winter, I catch up on all the good TV I miss in the summer.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
To fly like Superman so I wouldn’t have to sit through any more red lights.
If you could choose any other profession to be successful in, what would it be?
I want to be that person who goes on vacations and writes reviews for a living!
What is your favorite local restaurant?
If you could have dinner with one famous person from the past or present, who would it be?
Master Helio Gracie.
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