The Allan Co., the subject of this issue’s cover story, “Positive Spin,” beginning on page 50, joins Recycling Today in celebrating its golden anniversary in 2013, having been founded by Stephen A. Young in 1963.
The Baldwin Park, Calif., company started off as a paper stock packer and expanded its services in response to market opportunities. But the company also found a way to make the most of a bad situation.
At the time of Mexico’s financial collapse in the 1990s, a number of Mexican paper stock consumers owed Allan Co. money for their orders. Rather than take a loss, Allan Co. accepted payment from these clients in the form of rolls of finished paper. Allan Co. then sold the rolls throughout the western United States and Mexico, marking the beginning of a new division within the company. Allan Co.s’ finished paper division today carries inventory for all of the big producers and typically has 7,000 to 8,000 tons of material in standard sizes and basis weights in inventory at all times.
Clearly, this type of adaptive thinking has contributed to Allan Co.’s success over the last 50 years, as has being able to identify emerging trends and opportunities and respond to them.
Allan Co.’s response to the situation with its customers in Mexico got me thinking of adaptive leadership and the personality traits that are inherent to this type of leadership. These traits go well beyond the basic leadership skills, such as the ability to strategize, an aptitude for communication and decision-making and a focus on producing results.
Adaptive leadership skills, according to Travis Bradberry, a Forbes contributor and co-author of Leadership 2.0, include emotional intelligence, or how an individual uses knowledge of his or her own emotions as well as those of other individuals to build relationships, and a sense of organizational justice, or integrating what people think to make them feel respected and valued. Adaptive leaders, Bradberry says, also have transparent and honest characters and understand that they always have something more to learn as well as the responsibility to aid in the development of individuals whom they lead.
Adaptive leadership’s focus on transparency and honesty reminds me of another Allan Co. value—dedication to being true to its word when dealing with customers as well as with its staff.
Regardless of how the recycling industry has changed in the last 50 years and how it will continue to change in the next 50 years, some things always ring true. Respect and honesty will always remain important components of lasting business relationships. It seems only fitting that a company that is celebrating its golden anniversary should honor this Golden Rule of business.