From the pitcher’s mound to the front office, Blake Brannon knows what it takes to lead a team to victory.
The president of Texas-based Brannon Industrial Group (BIG) recently was designated one of Waste360’s 40 Under 40 for 2020.
"I really couldn't do any of it without the people that are around me," Brannon says. "To do it as one man, you can't do it by yourself. And we've got a hell of a team working together all rowing the boat in the right direction."
Following three seasons of professional baseball, Brannon focused on building the family-run business from the bottom up. The company offers customized services in municipal, residential, commercial and industrial waste management, recycling, metal recycling, portable sanitation, and temporary fencing.
Waste360 spoke with Brannon to learn more about what it takes to make it big in the waste management industry.
Waste360: How did you get your start in the waste management industry/
Blake Brannon: I fell into it. I was a baseball player prior and went to school for entrepreneurship. I got a chance to go out and play a little bit professionally. After I was done playing, I came back home. My dad had started a roll-off business -- one truck and probably about 20 roll-off boxes -- something really just to kind of keep them busy around Brenham [Texas] when I was gone. I came in and started running it, and that was the that's kind of how it all began. We started that and started taking metal out of the boxes and ended up taking scrap. One thing kind of led to another and all of a sudden we're in scrapping in the trash business.
Waste360: What does it mean to be involved in your local community as a business?
Blake Brannon: As a family business, we're very giving, and it's fun. You're just dealing with so many different people these days. You get to help people solve issues and do things. We think it's important to give back. It's just my upbringing, and the way my parents have always been and taught me so.
Waste360: Do you have any advice for people who are starting out in their careers or any suggestions about entrepreneurship?
Blake Brannon: I was playing baseball, and it was my first year, at spring training. Tommy Lasorda was given a speech to the entire organization. There are about 350 minor league baseball players there. A couple of guys have gone to the big leagues. He basically said, there's 25 guys in the big leagues, and there are 300 people underneath you that want your job. I guess the best piece of advice that they gave me, and it completely relates to entrepreneurship, is that the day that you take off is the day that the guy next to you gets a little bit further ahead of you. And the reason I say that is, you know, it's a grind to be an entrepreneur. There are ups and there are downs, but as long as you wake up every morning and you're enjoying what you're doing, there's a passion there to go out and achieve great things. You just got to keep grinding. Don't get stuck up. You have to understand. That was one of the greatest things about baseball. If you lose a game, you know, the night before. You got to get over it pretty quick because you're playing the next night. And if you're still worried about an issue you had, you'll get caught up in that and miss the opportunity that's right in front of you the next day. That'd be probably my best piece of advice I can give somebody.
Waste360: Is there anything else that you've learned from baseball that you apply to your business?
Blake Brannon: I'll tell you that I pretty much relate everything in business back to baseball for the most part. With a team sport like baseball, I was a pitcher, but I could not be successful if I didn't have a shortstop, a catcher or anybody out on the field. And it's the same thing in business. I mean, you've got to get good people. Get them in the right position, and then get out of their way and let them run. And your job at that point is to help support them when they do ask for help or reach out for help. A team mentality is big around this organization. We've built it like that from the get-go. We've got a lot of athletes, former athletes in the organization, and a lot of them have gravitated to it just because of the atmosphere of really trying to go out and achieve great things. And I mean, it's an organization that enjoys winning, right? If you plan on small levels on a day-to-day basis, you look up, a couple years later, and the scoreboard looks good. So put your head down and work, and eventually the scoreboards are in your favor.