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How Servant Leadership Builds A Business

Episode 21: A conversation with Mike Schwalbach, president of Sierra Container.

In the latest episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Mike Schwalbach, president of Sierra Container Management. We spoke with him about building a business, the importance of understanding customers and more.

Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:

Waste360: Could you share how you approached Sierra differently when you started building it?   

Mike Schwalbach: I didn’t think I’d start a company—but probably the biggest reason I did start it was due to the support of people in the industry. So many people were supportive and gave me the confidence to start Sierra, and we have a different approach in several ways. A lot of it goes back to the people. The team all has skin in the game; we’re a small group, but we share certain core values that we won’t stray away from. We have an owner-operator mentality, and everyone is a decision maker.

Waste360: How do you maintain such a positive culture?

Mike Schwalbach: I always like to talk about our core values. It’s all about the qualities of a person. Skill and experience are important, but those can always be developed. Our core values are qualities like integrity, humility, transparency, a good work ethic … We think about these core values every day. I’m also big on servant leadership.

Waste360: What is your take on the state of recycling and organics today?

Mike Schwalbach: I think we’re on the right path. We’ll figure it out through a mix of education for both customers and municipal governments—and then developing the right technology and infrastructure that delivers value. This industry has so many good people and they're not only learning to do what's good for the environment but also what make sense economically.

Listen to the full interview with Schwalbach below and more episodes here. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear his sharp insights on the use of data in the industry, the importance of design and more.

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