Fresh Perspective

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Recycling industry professionals share their perspectives on the industry.

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October 27, 2021

Robert Burns

Director of marketing at Sunnking

Robert Burns spent the first decade of his career in various broadcast reporting roles at TV stations across the country.

“I’ve bounced around the country and lived in five different states in 10 years,” he says. “I was used to packing up and living an adrenaline-filled life. That was really all I knew. Living in TV world, you work on a lot of contracts—two years here, three years here. Once the contract is done, though, you’re looking for a job.”

In 2019, Burns completed a contract working as an evening anchor for Nexstar Media Group in Irving, Texas. While in between jobs that year, he went to his hometown of Rochester, New York, to stay with family. During his job hunt, Burns says he noticed an open marketing position at Brockport, New York-based Sunnking, so he applied without knowing much about the company or the industry.

“You have to make yourself uncomfortable to become better and learn more.”

When Burns interviewed for the position, he says he engaged well with the Sunnking team and was fascinated learning about the services the company provides. He was offered a job as the company’s director of marketing and has been with Sunnking since the fall of 2019.

Burns mentions the learning curve he has navigated going from 10 years in broadcasting to leading Sunnking’s marketing team. “I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I feel 100 percent comfortable, but I think nobody should [feel 100 percent comfortable] in any sort of leadership role,” Burns says. “You have to make yourself uncomfortable to become better and learn more.”

Recycling Today (RT): What has it been like to work for Sunnking for the past two years?

Robert Burns (RB): It’s a fixed, family feel here, and we have a very open office. The past year, though, there were a lot of challenges. A lot of people got sent home, a lot of people got sick [and] business shut down. We opened a new facility in another city and then a month-and-a-half later sent everyone home and shut it down. We just reopened [that facility] officially a couple of months ago. So, there were a lot of adjustments. And there still are—we’re wearing masks again, back to COVID testing for just about everyone with any symptom just to make sure we’re being overcautious. So there have been adjustments the past year, but every day we are trying to be better.

RT: How can scrap companies incorporate a social media strategy into their marketing efforts?

RB: First, you want to be able to plan out your posts. They have social media management tools out there. They let you put in whatever social media platforms you have—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn—and you can post this on Monday, this on Tuesday, that on Wednesday and it posts them for you. You can carve an hour, two hours out of the week and schedule the posts. Second is consistency of posting. One thing that we have in place at Sunnking is that we have a point to post one thing every day. ... We try and tailor them for each platform, but we try and stay consistent with that.

RT: What are issues you would want to see resolved in the recycling industry?

RB: One of them is transparency and opening up and being truthful about what it is that you do. There are certain things that you as a company or you as a person need to look for when you’re recycling your devices. You want to make sure that the company is certified. There’s a bunch of different qualifications and requirements you need as a recycler to be certified. But that means you’re going to be held to the highest standard as well. I say this because data security is such a huge thing.