EIA alliance aims to nurture future leaders.

According to the well-known saying, great leaders are made, not born. The Washington-based Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) is trying to do its part for the solid waste industry through the Future Industry Leaders Alliance (FILA), which recently celebrated its first anniversary.

“Over the years, we've been talking about the importance of future leaders,” says Bruce Parker, EIA president. “We're concerned about having a full pipeline.”

The alliance is intended to replicate the success of EIA's Women Council, Parker adds, but with a focus on the industry's young talent. FILA members must be under 45 and have at least one year of experience in the waste industry, or manage 15 percent of the gross revenue or assets for their company. The goal is to foster their growth in the industry through education, networking and mentoring.

The alliance is co-chaired by one member from the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) and one from the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA). “One side can talk about buying the equipment, and the other side can talk about the equipment itself,” Parker says. “If it works out, they will have the types of relationships where they can pick up the telephone and cut through the red tape to get answers more quickly.”

With the business world depending more on electronic communications, the semi-annual meetings are intended to help the members develop better relationships with their peers, while learning more about the industry. Every year, FILA holds a spring meeting at WasteExpo and a fall meeting that includes a tour of a facility. Last fall they met at Charlotte, N.C.-based Otto, and in late October will tour a materials recovery facility owned by Westborough, Mass.-based E.L. Harvey & Sons. Speakers will discuss trends in the equipment industry and recycling markets, among other topics. FILA also hosts teleconferences called “lunch and learns” in which experts share information on issues, such as private equity funding in the waste industry.

EIA has provided $10,000 to get FILA going, but intends for the alliance to be self-funding. “That's an incentive for them to build their own organization,” Parker says. The members look for companies to sponsor their events; EL Harvey & Sons, for instance, is sponsoring the fall meeting. So far FILA has recruited 37 members, with the help of co-chairs Geoff Mather, president of Cincinnati-based Orion Safety Systems, and BJ Harvey, director of finance and acquisitions for E.L. Harvey, as well as administrator Sasha Bieschke, and intends to continue the growth. FILA now is developing a mentorship program that will include a directory of industry veterans willing to provide advice and guidance to up-and-comers.
— Jennifer Grzeskowiak is a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based freelancer writer