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ML Journal June 2022

Enabling the Circular Economy

USM’s goal is to foster a closed loop program that recycles both metallic and non-metallic materials to be put back into production, says EVP Jodi Keller.   

Q: What is your role and focus at the company?
A: As Executive Vice President at United Scrap Metal, my role includes developing our strategic vision and goals, managing key customer relationships, and cultivating new business while maintaining the mission of the organization: “Making a positive impact on the lives of others.”

Q: What do you see as the most pressing issue facing the manufacturing industry today?
A: Retaining key talent is a major issue for today’s industry. USM’s focus includes initiatives to ensure that high performing talent can find a sense of purpose within their roles and responsibilities. United Scrap Metal is doing that by investing in our team members through leadership programs, exploring ways to leverage their unique personality traits and talents, and offering the flexibility to meet personal needs, all while supporting our company goals.

Q: What is the most important corporate initiative you are involved in?
A: USM’s key focus is on identifying and developing sustainable growth initiatives for both our company and our partners. With Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and the Circular Economy gaining the attention of business owners and stakeholders, we are constantly evaluating our position in the manufacturing lifecycle and the contribution we can make to the overall reduction in GHG emissions. Our unique role in the Circular Economy allows our consuming partners to lower their GHG emissions by decreasing the input of virgin material within the material lifecycle. Some studies have shown a 33% reduction in energy by replacing virgin material with recycled inputs. It is USM’s mission to help reinforce this initiative. We are constantly seeking innovative approaches to facilitate the reduction, or in some cases elimination, of waste by fostering a closed loop program which recycles materials, both metallics and non-metallics, to be put back into production.

Q: What are the most important qualities that manufacturing leaders will need in the future
A: Leaders in manufacturing will need a strong combination of adaptability and innovation to succeed. The past two years have challenged leaders to be agile to change and evolve quickly. No one could have predicted a global pandemic; however, leaders that were able to successfully pivot have not only recovered but have strengthened their businesses in the process. Forward thinking leaders need to constantly evaluate their short-term and long-term strategy in order to stay ahead of the curve and maintain their position within the market. Leaders need to get comfortable about being uncomfortable and seek constant growth. Lastly, it is essential to anticipate potential barriers to growth and establish a plan to overcome them.

Q: What are the greatest opportunities for manufacturers over the next five years?
A: There is an opportunity for unlimited growth in the domestic market. The pandemic, growing international political concerns, and the rise in workforce costs have all contributed to an increased risk in doing business overseas for many companies. Organizations have trended towards onshoring manufacturing in order to maintain control and prevent supply chain disruptions, and there are no signs of that slowing.  Another trend is “conscious consumerism”, where purchasing decisions are driven by a commitment to making a positive impact from an environmental, social, and governance perspective. This type of consumption leads towards stronger brand loyalty to products made in the U.S. All these factors present an opportunity for significant domestic growth for U.S. manufacturers in the years ahead.

Q: What is your favourite activity outside work, or the last book you read?
A: Any activities that include my kids who are actively involved in sports. As summer approaches, you will find me outside working on my lawn or just soaking up the sun, while likely listening to a crime podcast. M

Title: Executive Vice President
Company: United Scrap Metal
HQ: Cicero, IL
People: 500+ Employees
Revenues: (privately-held)
Industry: Metal recycling

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