Star Qualities

Andy Golding of Kripke Enterprises, Toledo, Ohio, strives to let his customers know they are the stars of the show.

Signatures affixed to the bottom of e-mails typically follow a standard format. Within some corporations deviating from that standard could be cause for disciplinary action.

In other circumstances, though, these signatures can offer an opportunity for creativity and personalization. Those who have come to know Andy Golding of Kripke Enterprises LLC, Toledo, Ohio, quickly learn that he has chosen the creative route with his e-mail signature.

Andy has been working as a trader for Kripke since 2005 and refers to himself as a relative “neophyte” within the industry. Shortly after starting as a new trader among several industry veterans, “I knew I needed to take action to differentiate myself.”

An e-mail signature in which Andy includes a photo of himself and the tagline “Broker to the Stars” is just one of several techniques he has used to quickly raise his profile in the industry.



CATCHING UP
Unlike a number traders-in-training in the scrap industry, Andy did not grow up the son of a scrap trader and did not work at scrap yards during the summer.

After spending several years in the automotive glass business, Andy was seeking to switch careers and he used several non-traditional means to promote himself to potential employers.

He posted his resume on eBay and sent out a press release to Toledo area news outlets announcing he had done this: “I think I was among the first 50 or so people to put my resume on eBay,” he recalls.

Andy’s publicity campaign caught the attention of Matt Kripke, vice president at Kripke Enterprises, a nonferrous brokerage house founded in 1994 by people with roots in the scrap industry extending back to the 1960s.

Andy says Matt took some risks in hiring him. “I was 35 years old, and by that age most traders had been in the business for nearly 15 years,” he says.

Thus, Andy quickly concluded that differentiating himself and gaining attention was going to be part of his personal strategy to build a book of business. “I know it’s a face-to-face business, but I needed to catch up,” he says, “and get people to know my face more quickly.”

As part of his strategy, Andy went with the non-traditional e-mail signature that includes his portrait. Among some of the feedback that he got was that “people just don’t do that in this industry,” he recalls.
The accompanying slogan “Broker to the Stars” may sound a little self-inflating, until Andy has a chance to explain it. “The people I trade with are my stars,” he says.

Andy says his non-traditional approach has worked to a great extent because the signature also includes the Kripke Enterprises name. “I’m fortunate that I work for a very credible company.”

During his years with Kripke Enterprises, the company has continued to grow. “2010 was a good year,” says Andy. “The company was able to add staff and put itself in a position to grow in 2011. We have a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and are buying LTL (less-than-truckload) loads into our warehouse.”


HIGHLY SOCIAL
As someone with an interest in electronic communication and as the trader who was assigned corporate communications and marketing tasks, Andy has been eager to explore social media.

He has created and managed a Kripke Enterprises and personal/professional presence on Facebook and LinkedIn and actively manages an e-mail and text messaging list to which he sends updates.

“Our business is about relationships,” says Andy. “These forms of media allow you to show people a little bit more about who you are and what you’re all about—and we get to learn about our customers the same way.”

He continues, “When we share social media, we can find common threads a little more quickly. Often, it’s about hobbies or the tastes that they have.”

Andy cites an example: “One buyer for a consuming company loves Bon Jovi. It’s nice to know this consumer loves that artist. It allows me to communicate with that person about something other than business.”

But while such outreach is labeled as “social media,” Andy is quick to note that there is a business communication value to establishing multiple forms of electronic communication. “Text messaging can allow us to reach people even faster than e-mailing,” he says. “Texts can allow you to quickly share crucial information; you can increase opportunities for customers to get better pricing.”

He also notes that for some customers—those who check in with their Facebook page throughout the day—communicating via that channel can be the most effective.
 

A GOOD DECISION
With six years of experience behind him, Andy remarks that he is a relative newcomer to the scrap industry and much of these first few years have involved learning the industry.

“It takes a couple of years to figure out who the people are in the industry; a couple of years to learn where the material is and what it is; and then a couple to figure out how it all works together,” he comments.

By starting in the industry at age 35, And was on the lower end of a platform where others his age were well ahead of him. “Until my interview with Matt, I really didn’t know there was a scrap industry—a sophisticated network of dealers across the country that recycled the scrap from manufacturing plants,” says Andy. “I had no idea that people made a living selling [obsolete] scrap to scrap dealers or that they supplemented their incomes that way,” he adds.

Having established a foothold in the industry that used to be hidden from view to him, Andy is glad that he is now part of it.

“I love the people in the business: the people I work with in the office and both sets of customers—the dealers that we buy from and the consumers we sell to,” says Andy.

“Recycling is a green business that is good for the environment, so that offers another source of satisfaction,” he adds.

While he spends much of his time communicating electronically, Andy also says he looks forward to regional and national industry events, including the annual ISRI Convention & Exposition. “The ISRI Convention is very important to us as a company and to me personally,” he says. “The convention is fantastic; it’s the Facebook of the industry. It’s a time when you can put names to faces and can have real conversations face to face.”

Andy says he anticipates being at the 2011 ISRI Convention & Exposition in Los Angeles, which is scheduled for April 5-9. At the convention he says he expects to bolster the industry relationships he has been building for the past six years.

“It’s a unique career when you can enjoy your customers as much as I do,” states Andy. “There aren’t many businesses where you can be such good friends with your customers.”

The author is editor-in-chief of Recycling Today and can be contacted at btaylor@gie.net.

 

March 2011
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