Fresh Perspective

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Recycling industry professionals share their perspectives on the industry.

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February 28, 2019

Richard Wallace

Corporate development at Huron Valley Steel Corp.

Rich Wallace might be new to the recycling industry—he joined Huron Valley Steel Corp., headquartered in Trenton, Michigan, with additional facilities in Belleville, Michigan, and Anniston, Alabama, to handle corporate development in January 2017—but he brought his eight years of experience as a corporate attorney.

“Through those experiences, I found myself very interested in business strategy and management,” he says.

“I think our industry faces similar issues that our economy as a whole faces, such as attracting employees and the trucking shortage.”

Wallace didn’t intend to pursue a job in the recycling industry. However, when Huron Valley Steel offered him a position two years ago, he knew he had to take it. “It was about going to work for a successful, stable company with a strong culture that happens to be in the recycling industry,” Wallace says.

It was also a personal decision. His grandfather, Mel Wallace, partnered with Leonard Fritz to start Huron Valley Steel in 1961, serving as executive vice president. Wallace says working with second- and other third-generation family members to grow what his grandfather started is exciting.

Recycling Today (RT): How did you get your start in the recycling industry?

Richard Wallace (RW): I’m pretty new to the recycling industry, having started in January 2017. And prior to joining Huron Valley Steel, I was a corporate attorney for eight years where I served as outside general counsel and business advisor for small to midsized companies in a wide range of industries. And through those experiences, I found myself very interested in business strategy and management and was looking to work on the business side of a company.

RT: How have your experiences working as a corporate attorney helped you as you transitioned to working in the recycling industry?

RW: As a corporate attorney, you have to learn about your client’s business in a very fast, expedient manner so that you can provide correct and sophisticated legal advice to them. I feel like my ability to learn about a business really helped to accelerate my learning curve in the recycling industry.

RT: What are your corporate development responsibilities with Huron Valley Steel?

RW: I wear a lot of hats at the company. Obviously with my legal background, I handle legal issues that we deal with and review contracts for the company.

I’m involved on the commercial side as far as buying material. I also work with colleagues on new developments and growth strategies for the company.

RT: What do you see as some of the biggest issues in the recycling industry today?

RW: I think our industry faces similar issues that our economy as a whole faces, such as attracting and retaining quality employees and the trucking shortage.

Additionally, there’s realignment in the global scrap market right now as China clamps down on imported scrap metal. We’re going to have to see how that plays out and adjust to it.

I think another issue is the public’s lack of awareness of the importance of recycling industries and how they impact the manufacturing sector.