For baseball player Felipe Garcia, the transition from being a professional athlete to the corporate world is very similar in the form of team atmosphere goals, objectives, and how you play a part in the overall strategy.
Now vice president of sales at Phoenix-based Republic Services for the past 10 years, Garcia utilizes that team mentality to drive the sales strategy at the second largest provider of non-hazardous solid waste collection, transfer, disposal, recycling and energy services in the U.S.
“I’ve failed in front of thousands of people, no excuses, no one to blame but myself. You may be disappointed at the end of the day, but the good news is you have a chance to do it all over again tomorrow,” says Garcia describing his days on teams like the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. “That taught me mental toughness. You must take the extra step, missing out on holidays with family – it taught me sacrifice. It’s an important part of my culture, and it comes with having pride, mental toughness, sacrifice, humility, love and respect for the game and people.”
Garcia was named one of Waste360’s 40-Under-40 Award winners for 2020. We recently sat down with him to discuss his success in the waste and recycling industry and how his past as a professional athlete has led to that success.
Waste360: Describe your role as Vice President of Sales at Republic Services.
Felipe Garcia: I drive, support and implement strategic sales plans to assist representatives. I’m also responsible for the development and implementation of the sales strategy for contract extensions, new business sales opportunities to ensure growth, retention, and quality of revenue in the division / Area. I spend much of my time helping launch sales programs, reviewing reports, mentoring team members and providing sales leadership support wherever needed.
Waste360: Describe the transition from professional baseball player to the corporate waste and recycling business. How is sales similar to baseball?
Felipe Garcia: There are things I’ve heard on the field that I’ll never hear in a boardroom, and I think that has provided me confidence in my space. One of the things I love most is game time, that’s the fun part (now I would call those sales meetings). What no one sees is all the preparation, sacrifice, and hard work that you do before the game (meeting). Putting on a uniform or putting on a suit, for me mentally, it’s time to go to work! Let’s get the win today and I’m going to do everything I can to impact the people around me and make them better.
In 2005, the Cal State Fullerton baseball team, National Champions that is, were able to go to the White House. The baseball team was set up to take a photo with President George W. Bush who was standing directly in front of me. Once we completed our pictures everyone turned around to shake hands. At the time, I had broken my foot and was in a cast in my business suit.
As you might imagine the President was curious and asked, “Oh my gosh, what happened to your foot?” I responded straight faced, “A shark bit me!” The President responded, “Really? No $&@!” Everyone laughed as I explained to him that I was just kidding and broke it playing baseball. He looked at my coach and said, “This guy is quick, huh?” and my coach replied, “Oh, you have no idea!”
Why I tell that story is that I love to be my true authentic self no matter the environment. You don’t have to guess with me. From the baseball field to now the corporate world, that mentality has provided me opportunities. I take the approach of “you have to be your true self, give it all you’ve got and get better every day.”
Waste360: What made you want to go into sales?
Felipe Garcia: That you can influence a person’s day, week, month, year or even their life by the way you treat them. When you work, travel, and spend time with your coworkers and customers often you become close to them and form a bond. You become family.
Waste360: What is your leadership style?
Felipe Garcia: Coaching is my passion. I always try to be attentive, open, and confident. I will always listen to my team and provide strategic direction. I love watching people improve, develop, and get promoted. I love helping people get to where they want to be.
Waste360: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Felipe Garcia: In 2018, I oversaw sales in the Southeast Area. That year our Area was #1 in the company for sales results and margin expansion. In 2018, nine of my 19 sales leaders were promoted. This spoke volumes to me as I felt proud to have helped them grow and achieve their goals of growing within the organization. Being recognized as one of the Waste 360’s 2020 40 under 40 was a highlight in my growth over the last 10-plus years in the industry.
Waste360: How would you describe working for Republic Services?
Felipe Garcia: I have so much gratitude for working at Republic Services. In these uncertain times, the company genuinely cares about the well-being of our employees, both personally and professionally. I encourage all of us to continue to work together and support each other to get through the challenges we face every day.
Waste360: What do you like to do in your free time?
Felipe Garcia: My wife and I have six beautiful children and two dogs. I know what you’re thinking, we should have a TV show! I spend most of my weekends either watching my children play sports or coaching their teams. I enjoy watching sports myself! GO LOS Angeles teams! We love to hike and be outdoors as much as possible.