While she was steadily building her knowledge and honing her sales skills, she admits that it was her gender that opened many doors to opportunity.
“It’s always tough to get an initial cold call appointment, especially if someone is satisfied with their scrap dealer. At the time, most sales calls were being made by men, so a call from a woman was unusual.”
While her gender may have been an attribute in getting the initial appointment, it was ultimately her determination, knowledge, and instincts that earned her accounts.
Linda and her husband moved to Phoenix in 1988, taking an opportunity with one of the valley’s bigger scrap companies. Linda said the job was not really what she wanted so she altered the plan, “They wanted a scale person but when they checked with my Chicago employers they found that I had closed some of the biggest accounts there and bought nearly every grade of metal in the market. As we talked I convinced the owners that my best value to them was to be on the street bringing them metal. It was my first sale in Phoenix.”
Ms. Rockwell found over the next 2 years that the valley market was run in the traditional style of the scrap industry. Salespeople would buy material as a particular grade at the scrap dealer’s price, upgrade the material to the scrap company’s advantage to better their profit, and move on to the next account.
“This wasn’t unusual anywhere in the country but I felt that in a smaller market the opportunity to become more of a recycling partner to my customers would result in far more business. My boss did not agree at all. He felt that keeping customers in the dark helped everyone in the marketplace.” Linda was told to not rock the boat and what customers didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.
It was then she knew that she needed to go it alone with her concept of sharing information and becoming an extension of a company’s management team. “I wanted to show my customers that I could improve their profits not just through competitive pricing but also as I found ways to improve their recycling program such as eliminating landfill costs through recycling waste materials or by using no-cost processors, consolidating loads, efficient collection processes, etc.”
To do that CRI had to be different. It had to be innovative. Here are some of the ways they have done that:
One source recycling. “I found homes for not only every grade of metal but also paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, wood, and handled solid waste.” By doing that her customers no longer had to call many different vendors. One phone call to CRI handles it all.
Custom containers. Job shops are dependent on keeping the machines constantly producing. Machine heights, set-ups, capacities are all different. To most effectively collect scrap CRI designs bins and containers that maximize production and minimize downtime and changeover.
Fleet trucking. When CRI started, most scrap dealers outsourced the transportation of pick-ups and deliveries. That left customers at the mercy of an outside vendor. Linda saw an opportunity to guarantee pick-up times and has always met customer transportation needs within a 24-hour turnaround time. CRI has its’ own fleet of flatbeds, stake trucks, and rolloff equipment.
History reports. Linda noticed that there was a disconnect between customer operations departments and accounting. She and her team designed a software system that integrated a reporting process that started with a single job ticket created at the dispatch call by the customer.
CRI also delivers Certificates of Destruction that verify prototypes, molds, proprietary materials are fully destroyed to satisfy customer privacy and confidentiality requirements, as well as their liability issues.
This ticket is confirmed by the on-site customer to include exactly what is picked-up by CRI for recycling. This ticket number follows the material through each stage of delivery, processing, sorting, shipping, and customer payment.
This system allows each department involved in the customer side to not only review any segment of the material history but to also have individual or cumulative reports made by CRI. These reports show descriptions by commodity, date ranges, specific loads, financial transactions, or just about any combination required by a department.
Being an on-site processor, customers often visit the Consolidated facility to personally view the destruction/recycling process.
People. “The one thing I always knew is that I couldn’t run a business alone. I have assembled a terrific group of people who have developed into long-term friends that love what they’re doing and have created many of the processes that make our company successful.”
This team includes Vanessa Czop, a 15-year veteran who has become the company’s COO, and is in line to be the next generation of CRI.
The transportation team has 4 members all of whom have over 5 years with CRI and one driver who was Linda’s first employee in 1990.
The operations crew also has an average of 8 years experience and is cross-trained to operate any back-of-the-house process. The Operations Manager is a specialist in aero space alloys and managed a recycling operation for Honeywell.
The Human Resources department has a 12-year veteran who formerly worked for Blue Cross. The accounting department has a young woman who closely works with Ms. Czop in developing further software programs and was formerly with PF Chang’s.
The sales department has a former customer, Kerry Vance, who was so impressed with the integrity of CRI when he dealt with them in his capacity as a Purchasing Manager that he eagerly took the opportunity in sales with Consolidated when the position opened up. Kerry said, “I knew that I could represent this company effectively because my experience taught me that if Linda quoted a price or promised a service I knew it would happen. That’s a great confidence on a sales call.”
There are 15 Rolloff Services employees that operate in their own facility with a separate fleet of equipment, repair stations, and also deliver dispatched equipment on the 24-hour system.
Consolidated Resources services over 500 industrial customers valley wide as well as Flagstaff, the entire Prescott area, Tucson and as far west as the California border. The facility is in Glendale with 48,000 square feet under roof as well as outdoor processing operations.
For more information call 623 931-5009 or visit the company website at www. ConsolidatedResources.com.
Q & A with Linda Rockwell, President - Consolidated Resources, Inc.
Q: What do you know about business that you wish you knew 20 years ago when you started CRI?
A: How important business relationships are. You need a good accountant, good lawyer, and a good banker. They are not there just for services, but for their professional advice. They might not know my business, but getting a professional perspective outside of the industry bubble really helps grow a business.
Q: Describe the moment you felt you achieved success.
A: I’m still not sure I have. I always believe it is a work in progress. What is the measure of success? I enjoy in succeeding in the individual challenges in business as they come along, but overall I think we can always get better. I’m also a little surprised at times that I have “succeeded”. I started CRI because I could not accomplish my goals with the scrap companies existing in 1990. I had no idea how to run a business, so to be here 20 years later amazes me. I’ve been lucky and blessed.
Q: What would you tell a woman today who wants to start her own company?
A: Don’t think of yourself as a woman; only as a person with a strong desire. Being a woman did help me open doors. The scrap metal industry was a totally male-dominated industry when I came into it in 1978. Whether in management, operations, or sales there were probably less than ten women in the country working in the business. The owner of one of the largest companies in Chicago said to my boss, “This industry is not ready for a woman.” I found that funny, but a great motivator. Being a woman got me the meeting, but my sales skills got me the account.
Q: If you could live a double life, what would the other you do?
A: Gathering and caring for as many dogs as possible. If it weren’t for my husband, Ted, I’d be in double-digits now.
Q: Do you consider yourself a gambler or a measured risk taker?
A: I’m a measured-risk gambler. I’m willing to take risks, but I need to understand the goals versus investment. But if it comes down to a definite maybe, I trust my team to help me make the decision.
Q: What technological advancement do you rely on the most?
A: The internet. It is a world of knowledge at your fingertips. I can get solid answers, relay information, and be in instant communication with my associates. Also, being in the processing part of the business, the testing equipment that specifically identifies metals has proved invaluable. It allows us to market the exact materials our customers send to us and then we’ll get paid for those specific metals, resulting in more money for us and our customers. Processing equipment has also gotten more compact and mobile allowing for far more operational efficiencies. But what I also realize, no matter what the technology, the most important part of any process still comes down to having good people.
Q: What is the proudest moment in your career?
A: In 2008, the economy was horrible. Many of our peers and customers were having numerous layoffs. Companies were closing their doors almost daily. My goal through that was to keep everyone employed. Ted and I made a lot of personal sacrifices to make that happen. During our holiday party, each of our employees came up and thanked us for keeping them working. It was so rewarding to know that they saw what we were doing for them and that they appreciated it. We have many employees who have been with us a long time and they have all become a part of our family.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Personal drive bordering on obsession. When I’m told you can’t – I will. I do homework on everything. When my husband faced a serious auto accident and a battle with cancer at the same time, I found out exactly what was supposed to happen at each phase of his treatments and made sure the process occurred. When I faced down that challenge, all the while maintaining our home, 7 furry friends, and running two businesses I knew I could handle anything. I also learned you can’t do it alone and found how valuable friends and great co-workers are in times of need.
Q: What makes an effective business leader?
A: Relationships. When times are good you can run the business on auto-pilot. Customers have lots of material, needs are high for scrap, and everyone wants to buy metals at full-market or premium prices. But a slight skew or a completely down market shuts down both the flow of material and the outlets for them. It is in those times that you need your long-standing business friends to move goods for your customers. When mills stop buying or buy from only those producers whom they know well, that is when you need to call on your history with buyers. I have often been able to sell into markets which are closed to others because I deliver reliable material packages. Also, in good times or bad, I work with my outlets when they need room on deals instead of being greedy or unyielding. I have customers and buyers I have been doing business with since I’ve opened the doors. These relationships have resulted in creating a strong, positive reputation of integrity, which probably is my greatest accomplishment now that I say that.
Contact CRI Today!
Call Kerry or Linda: 623.931.5009 • Fax 623.931.5852
Online: Request an appointment on our Contact page.