Profiles in Paper: Doug Padnos
Q & A Interview with DOUG PADNOS
Q: When and how did you enter the recycling industry?
A: After a 12-year sales career in an unrelated industry, I joined my family business in 1989. At that time, I had three third-generation family members–two first cousins and one brother–who were already established in the company. Paper recycling was a smaller but significant part of the company. None of my family members were involved specifically in that, so it seemed logical to go into the paperstock business.
Q: What was it about the industry that prompted you to build a career in it?
A: The concept of recycling. Reusing materials that typically are thrown away and repurposing them is important for our environment. Our industry was practicing sustainability before that term became trendy. And, of course, the people in our industry make it so much fun.
Q: What have been your most rewarding professional achievements? Personal achievements?
A: Professionally, it has been rewarding to build the paper volume at PADNOS, both in our plant product and brokerage business. Serving on the PSI Chapter Board of Directors also was an enriching experience. In terms of personal achievements, I’ve had opportunities to serve on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations, which has been truly rewarding.
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: I’m passionate about maintaining a family-owned and -operated business. Our team members are what has made us successful. I’m committed to providing resources to further their education, advance them in their careers, and build a successful retirement plan through our benefits programs.
Q: Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
A: At University of Michigan, I was a radio and television major but ended up working for 12 years in the furniture industry.
Q: If you could improve anything about yourself, what would it be?
A: Not micromanaging and being comfortable with delegating responsibilities to the team members.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I love playing tennis, competitive sailing, spending time with my family, and watching University of Michigan sports. Go Blue!
Q: When and why did your company decide to join ISRI and the PSI Chapter?
A: I’m not sure of the exact date, but my dad and uncle were members of NARI and ISIS [ISRI’s two predecessor associations] in the early days. When the two organizations merged to form ISRI in 1987, we were involved immediately.
Q: Have you held any volunteer leadership positions within PSI? If so, what motivated you to become a leader?
A: I was on the PSI board for two terms and spent a lot of time with the Membership Committee. I was motivated to take on a leadership role because I wanted to share my experience with others, and ISRI has provided a great network.
Q: What benefits have you received from your PSI involvement?
A: The networking has been a significant building block in our brokerage business. Education and government relations also have been important components that ISRI has provided.
Q: What are the major challenges facing your company and the overall paper recycling industry today?
A: There are several issues facing the paper market today, including trade challenges with China, material values that are lower than the cost of collection and processing, and educating the public on proper recycling methods. However, the opportunity to use secondary materials rather than natural resources remains strong.