Episode 180: Do the Thing: Sage Advice for Entrepreneurs in Waste & Recycling and Beyond

Meet Andy Weins, President of Green Up Solutions, in this episode of NothingWasted!. We spoke with Andy about the power of community connection, the beauty of entrepreneurship, leadership lessons from the military that apply to any business, and so much more.

Liz Bothwell, Head of Content & Marketing

January 23, 2023

In our latest episode of NothingWasted!, we spoke with Andy Weins from Green Up Solutions about the power of community connection, the beauty of entrepreneurship, leadership lessons from the military that apply to any business and more.

His company is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that provides environmental consulting in the form of demolition, deconstruction and sanitization services.

Here is a sneak peek into the lively discussion:

Waste360: Would you tell us about your journey?

Weins: It started when I was like five years old. My father was a remodeler, and we grew up poor-ish. We used to take apart locksets and faucets and things that came off the job site and recycle them, and that was kind of our “go to lunch on a Saturday afternoon” money. So it started there, and throughout my life it never really disappeared… In 2009, I got laid off like a lot of people, and I went back to what I knew, which was scrapping. That was driving up and down the alleys and roadways on the northside of Milwaukee. I would do this for ten, twelve hours a day to make my mortgage.

Waste360: How did that all lead to Green Up?

Weins: Eventually got a job and got a degree and got my life figured out, and worked for the big companies for a while. But I knew that wasn’t what I wanted; I wanted to be involved in the industry but do it my way. After deployment, me and my brother started Green Up Solutions in 2016. We got into the franchise world, but again it got too corporate, and I got away from what I love, which is recycling and the environmental aspect—running a local company. So now, after all these years of evolution, I own Camel Crew Junk Removal, and then Green Up is our consulting and recycling arm of things.

Waste360: It seems like you really help your customers understand the best ways to handle their materials. Could you talk about that?  

Weins: What’s interesting is that, when I started this, I thought “I’ll be an environmental consultant, and people will pay me to solve their problems.” It turns out, no—no one will pay me for my perspective and opinion; they will pay me to actually do the work. I love talking about this industry—everything from mattress recycling to scrapping to e-waste. I realized that a lot of people want to do the right thing and know they’re doing good, and they feel good when they know their stuff is going to a good spot, but that’s kind of it. I want to get people excited, so we do a lot of stuff here, whether it’s our content—we do a podcast and put videos on YouTube teaching other junk-removal companies how to be more environmentally conscious. We also do tours at least once a month—home-cooked meal, and we walk around the facility to help people understand.

Waste360: What has carried over from your time in the Army to your life now?

Weins: Absolutely, and I’m still in the Army—eighteen years in the Reserves. There are so many things. I spent a year in Iraq as a truck driver, so just the basics and safety: get out and look, have a ground guy, very tactical things. You also learn how to communicate effectively. We do all of this in our business; our mission is to hire and inspire. You have to have standards, hold people accountable, have difficult discussions sometimes. A lot of people think the military is yelling and screaming—no, you have to love each other. We have to lead with empathy.

Waste360: What’s on your mind now, as a local, independent environmental services company?

Weins: From an economic standpoint, it’s a struggle. The bigger companies have bigger sticks to swing and control almost everything. When fuel prices went up this past year, it’s like, ‘What do you do? Do you charge your customers more, or do you eat it?’ The big companies are like a casino; they can eat it. The lack of predictability in the market has really challenged us. Even with marketing dollars, it’s like how do you compete? That’s one of the reasons I’m so involved in my community. The challenge to the local, regional haulers is: look how nimble you are; what can you do that the big boys can’t?

Listen to the full episode above.


About the Author(s)

Liz Bothwell

Head of Content & Marketing, Waste360

Liz Bothwell is head of content and marketing for Waste360, proud host of the NothingWasted! Podcast, and ghostwrites for others to keep her skills sharp and creative juices flowing. She loves family, football, her French bulldogs, and telling stories that can help to make the world a more sustainable place.

Follow her on Linkedin or Twitter

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