San Diego native Ashley Davis is the sales and marketing director of CP Group, a company founded by her grandfather, Charles M. Davis.
In 1954, Davis’ grandfather got his start in this industry by buying and selling scrap metal, and her father joined him early on by working in the scrap yard. In 1977, after inventing the world’s first commercial aluminum can flattener, her grandfather formed CP Manufacturing. The company continued to grow by designing and engineering equipment to sort recyclables. Today, CP Group’s global operation touches six continents, and it has designed, manufactured, and installed more than 400 material recovery facilities.
Davis began her waste and recycling career as the marketing coordinator for CP Group. Then, she worked her way up to marketing manager, where she revamped the company’s brand with a new look and feel and messaging strategy. Now, as the sales and marketing director, in addition to driving revenue for the organization, she helps to ensure that the company is delivering value to its customers and the industry overall.
Davis feels proud to be part of the successful family business. “It’s really great working here and being able to continue the legacy,” says Davis. She is a leader who motivates and excites her team about the company’s mission of creating long-term and sustainable solutions.
“Ashley has a talent for connecting with people, employees included, and making them believe (and ultimately realize in practice) that they are capable of more than they might have thought possible,” says Tony Bonds of CP Group.
Waste360 recently spoke with Davis, a Waste360 40 Under 40 recipient, about the family business, her advice for the next generation of waste and recycling workers and what the future has in store for CP Group.
Waste360: Did you always know you were going into the family business or were you thinking of doing something else?
Ashley Davis: No, actually. I didn’t always know.
I’ve always been really proud of what my family does. Working as an intern [at CP] during college was really fun, but I was hired by Target before I graduated college. What I did for Target was run a few of its operations of its high-risk stores in San Diego. The experience with Target was invaluable in terms of learning management and operations, but I was working really, really hard. I decided that if I was going to be working so hard that I’d rather put my efforts toward helping my family’s business grow. I’m really happy I got that outside experience to bring back to my company.
Waste360: What areas does CP Group serve?
Ashley Davis: We’re based in San Diego, but we’re international. We sell our equipment all over the world, and we produce material recovery facilities. We design custom solutions for counties and companies that need to process their recyclables.
We have facilities going into Argentina, India and Australia, and we have interests in South Africa and Europe. We’ve really been all over the place.
Our company delivers high performing, state-of-the–art sorting facilities to our customers. Our customers’ success is our success. When our customers are successful, it’s a win for the industry and whoever supports making recycling economically stable and successful.
We give our customers a long-lasting solution. Our equipment is built for longevity. It’s very durable; there’s not a lot of wear-parts; and [they’re going to be able to] resell the commodities and make money from that.
Waste360: You’re really focusing on long-term solutions for communities wherever they are.
Ashley Davis: Exactly. We look at ourselves as partners for our customers. When we put in a new facility, those customers become partners for life for us. Their facility is going to service their counties for the next decade and two decades to come. We want to make sure that we’re there for them and giving them the best solution as far as the equipment design goes. We want to give them equipment that is going to continue to drive value for them as material streams evolve.
Waste360: In your personal career, what would you say is a deciding moment or an experience that pushed you forward?
Ashley Davis: I was promoted to this director position in December last year. I was still completing my executive MBA program at the time so it was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it. Just being trusted by my team to execute such an important role as driving revenue for the company was a tremendous compliment. Also, being a young woman in a heavily male-dominated industry, I really hope that I can help make a path for other young women in the industry to grow into executive positions.
Waste360: What advice would you give to a young woman who was interested in the industry?
Ashley Davis: Sit at the table. Don’t be afraid to insert yourself into situations and start shaking people’s hands. Put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Do a lot of research so that you know the ins and outs of the industry. Don’t look at yourself as a woman; just look at yourself as an equal and somebody who can bring value to the industry.
Waste360: For young people generally, do you think this is an industry that provides opportunity for growth and innovation?
Ashley Davis: Absolutely. There’s a lot of room for growth and a lot of room for innovation.
I think that it’s a really strong industry. It’s a relationship-driven industry. It’s also really competitive. For young people who have a dedicated and passionate personality and also have a thick skin, I think it would be a really good fit for them.
Waste360: What do you do think is next for your company?
Ashley Davis: We’re always developing new equipment because material streams evolve over time and consumerism and demands change and then packaging changes.
We have to keep track of consumer demands and consumer growth. We also need to look at how our equipment is going to keep up with the evolving times so that we can continue to improve our technology.