Blair Kennedy has always been up for a challenge.
His current role as vice-president of operations for B.C.'s beverage container recycling program is perhaps his biggest so far. For the past year, he has been responsible for the logistics of collecting and processing more than a billion recyclable bottles and cans sold into the B.C. market each year and 100,000 tonnes of recycled electronics.
But not only does he have to oversee 680 separate recycling pickup locations in the province, his job over the next five years is to get more of us to do the right thing.
"Our return rate of beverage containers is about 80%. We've been at 80% for a long time, but our goal is to get to 85%," said Kennedy. "Like any commodity-based industry, the last 5% is the hardest to get. That's a unique challenge."
There are a few projects on the go to make this happen, including smaller, cleaner bottle depot formats and even an electronic payment system where people can just drop off their bottles and the depot will count them and credit them.
These changes are on top of the significant financial savings he has made for the non-profit organization through various process changes in the year he's been on the job so far.
While accomplishing his organization's goal won't be easy, his experience of entrepreneurial success should help. He saw what it took to be an entrepreneur as a senior commercial banker at RBC, and he honed his business development skills as vice-president of development and franchising at Mr. Mikes Restaurants when that company was owned by Yuri Fulmer, a 2006 recipient of BIV's Forty under 40 award. After building the business to more than $50 million in revenue and over 45 locations, which included Mr. Mikes, A&W and Pizza Hut operations, he branched out on his own, opening a brand-new Mr. Mikes in Duncan and building the foundations for Scooter World prior to joining Encorp.
He's left each business in a better state than when he started, and he aims to bring success to his current job. Being part of an organization that helps protect the environment also bridges with other personal goals he wants to achieve. "Being an environmental steward will be a key part of my next phase in my career as I try to build a better platform for us to succeed in."