Female Nonprofit Executive Discovers a Need and Opens a Recycling Business

Columbia-Gail Wilson noticed a problem with recycling in the small business community and started her business to solve that problem.

Wilson had no desire to open a recycling business, but as a nonprofit executive, she saw that the needs for recycling cardboard, scrap metal and other recycling materials were not being met for small businesses and organizations like hers.

“Like many nonprofits and small companies with a limited budget, we would have to wait for free community shred events to properly dispose of documents and other sensitive materials. This would require an employee to spend time hauling the items to their cars and transporting it to the shred events,” said Wilson. “This was time consuming and employees often had to do it on their personal time. Originally I thought I would fill the gap for nonprofits, churches, and small businesses, but it ended up fulfilling much more.”

Wilson is the founder and owner of Anchor Shred and Recycle, LLC. The firm collects materials for recycling and shredding. One of the initial goals of the business was to make it easy and affordable for everyone to recycle.

“You have to be passionate about recycling.  We are working towards servicing shredding offsite and collecting recycling materials, all while being environmentally conscious,” said Wilson.  “We receive most of our referrals from Sonoco and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. These referrals have saved us from paying for advertising.”

Wilson received counseling from Midlands SCORE and the Columbia Small Business Development Center in 2015. These resources were instrumental in helping develop her business plan and operating model. SCORE and the SBDC are resource partners of the U.S. Small Business Administration and provide free business counseling and technical assistance for startups and existing small businesses.

“It was important to have someone to bounce ideas off of, get feedback, and ask the hard questions. We faced challenges initially because we did not have a mobile shred truck or front loader,” said Wilson. “When Sonoco exited the single-stream recycle collection business it allowed us to compete on larger projects. We have now grown out of our cash flow problem.”

The firm employs one to two part-time crew members. Wilson’s husband is retired and he manages the day-to-day administrative activities of the business.

“I am excited about the future of Anchor,” stated Wilson.

Wilson reported that since their inception, they have diverted more than 20 tons of plastic and aluminum from the landfill and recycled over 175 tons of paper, saving almost 3,000 trees.

“We are a very small company, but it feels good to know we are doing our part on behalf of our customers,” said Wilson.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and is a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses, and recover from disasters.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. To learn more about SBA, visit www.sba.gov.

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