We made a brilliant pitch at www.InvestorsCircle.net to raise capital for our e-recycling company, and got some nibbles. But raising money is becoming a full time job, and I am starting to wonder if I'd find the money faster using my CDL license to drive my own truck again.
I should not complain, Good Point Recycling is better off than many. We did not put all our money into one end market, and our diverse reuse revenue (22.5% of tonnage) bridged the collapse of the metals markets a year ago. We grew in Vermont, buying our own building when bank financing was impossible. We have been able to hire great workers laid off from Addison County Vermont stalwart industries - Connor Homes, Standard Register, CPC Plastics, Specialty Filaments.
We are treading water and have not had to pass price increases to our clients. We have a lot of credential. Contracts to collect and manage or process e-waste for Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, Viewsonic, Acer, Toshiba, LG and others. New contracts in NY, Maine and Rhode Island. We have a successful Vermont TV Recycling program, which is capturing more material with coupons and convenience than other states are capturing with grants and regulations. We have an enthusiastic customer base in Arizona, begging for us to put together the trucking and trailering to bring the same success to the Southwest.
But it's at a point now where we have to decide whether to buy the truck for Las Chicas Bravas in Mexico, OR replace the aging truck in Vermont. Should we pay to transport to Retroworks de Mexico? Well, after we put the electricity in the plant, perhaps. So in the meantime we roll up domestic recycling bills for CRT processing in New England.
One of the investors in Washington wanted to know why we weren't an E-Steward. Our whole plan for Mexico was to bring the whole Asian refurbishing e-shebang close enough to the USA border for clients to vet, and into the OECD sphere. Sonora was a good compromise between the technicalities of the Basel Convention and doing what I love - bringing good jobs in reuse to people who actually want the jobs, to places where being a TV repairperson is like being an engineer, a lofty profession. In doing so, to create a proper end market for the people of Mexico, who have their own e-waste to manage.
This entire decade of my life is about creating a win-win, creating an e-Peace Corps, seeing people for what they can do, not for what they cannot do, and bringing together the right tools to make it all more affordable for Americans to recycle and more affordable for hospitals in the developing world to computerize their blood banks, so women can stop dying in childbirth.
It has been exceptionally gratifying, hosting dinner tables of geeks from Mexico, Senegal, Egypt, and Peru - sometimes at the same dinner! Watching the Egyptians scribble down details of a particular laptop technical fix onto a napkin, as they learn it from the Taiwan Techie. My day at work is a day at the playground.
I have the perfect job. I just have to make really hard decisions now, because small businesses cannot get financing. Buying the building in Vermont in 15 years took all the savings I had put aside to bring the Big Secret Factory to be run by Ms. Vicki Conce and her co-hearts in Sonoroa. It opened up a 200 ton per day smelter to our purchase order for CRT glass.
Well, back to contracts, purchase orders, cash flows and financials. Putting off Peter's bonus to pay for Paul's overtime. I am thankful for the growth we have, which is continuing. It's just sad we don't have the money to simultaneously join E-Stewards and to invest in the equipment and training we need, to have been laying off people in the spring who we knew we would need again in the fall.
Fair Trade. It can be self financed, slowly, but not with the vigor and flair that it deserves. We can't get E-Stewardship without capitalizing the plant in Mexico, we can't capitalize the plant in Mexico without selling to the refurbishing factory in Malaysia, we can't raise the capital for the plant in Mexico without an E-Steward label.
Maybe the correct literary tribute is not to William Styron and "Sophie's Choice". Good grief, maybe I am channeling Faulkner. Am I coming across to investors as an Abner Snopes, ready to grind my heel into their carpet? Or do I just so distrust the sanctimony of the BAN Pledge that it's really about Huckleberry Finn? Something deep inside me just hates the cynicism towards our vetted buyers in Egypt, Senegal, Peru, Indonesia, Mexico, and even China. I remember when Huck Finn felt guilty for helping the slave Jim run away from Mrs. Watson, which he realizes is illegal, realizes is stealing her "property". So he prays for inspiration on what to do, and writes a letter to tell on Old Jim.
I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn’t do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking–thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing.
But somehow I couldn’t seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I’d see him standing my watch on top of his’n, “stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and suchlike times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he”s got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
“All right, then, I’ll go to hell” – and tore it up.