Thursday Mar 23, 2023

Managing Operational Complexity and Reducing Waste by Thinking Inside the Box

"Very few people start businesses, fail, and then try the same business again. So I did and — knock on wood — it worked the second time around," says Marty Metro, Founder and CEO of UsedCardboardBoxes and UCBZeroWaste, in our newest podcast episode. It was a simple problem he was trying to solve: he didn't want to spend money on new boxes to move. As Metro drove around to find used, free boxes discarded by stores, he realized there was a business model there: gather used boxes and get them to companies who need them.

The first business he started that did this was a "colossal failure." But Metro tried again, this time launching UsedCardboardBoxes differently, with "funding and technology, and a focus and a management team and infrastructure." Today, they are the largest processor of used boxes in North America and their clients include Dole, General Mills, Kellogg's, McCormick Spice, Walmart, and Walgreens.

In This Episode…

Not only has UsedCardboardBoxes solved a waste problem for a number of companies, they've also created ways to handle internal complexities and reduce costs by building custom software — which is now being used to solve bigger sustainability challenges. Listen to our conversation with Marty Metro to learn more about how to solve operational challenges, and how an entrepreneur did it right the second time around.

Topics discussed:

  • Marty's journey from founding a business, failing at that business, and then relaunching the same business with a new vision, management, infrastructure, and operational plan.
  • The operational process of how UsedCarboardBoxes acquires its boxes, sorts them, inventories them, and ships them to customers who need them.
  • How UsedCarboardBoxes designed and built its own robust in-house software to track boxes, run matches "twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week," and connect boxes to the right people. 
  • The importance of viewing business decisions through the lens of ROI, and how to change a culture from "building cool stuff" to making decisions that will have an impact on revenue and cash flow.
  • The technology UsedCarboardBoxes implements to keep their team on the same page when it comes to projects and decision-making, and why everything is either a "to do" or an "issue."
  • Advice for business managers and entrepreneurs about what is most critical to measure in order to benchmark success.
  • How UCBZeroWaste is transforming waste management with its tracking software, allowing companies to see how much they're spending on waste so they can better manage their sustainability efforts and carbon footprint.

Resources Mention: 


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