Breaking Down Barriers in the Recycling Business
With Maria Marin
Born and raised in Nicaragua, our latest podcast guest came to the United States at just 15 years old with dreams of independence. Decades later, she’s built a business that provides freedom for both her and her family.
Maria Marin is the CEO, President, and Founder of Unlimited Recycling, Inc., a one-stop-shop company specializing in waste disposal, recycling, and transportation for commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities. Established in 1999, the company has served high-profile customers like Selfridge Air National Guard, US Army TACOM, and more.
Maria is an alumni member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a mentor for the Stanford University Hispanic Entrepreneurship Program. She graduated from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurs Leader Program in 2016. She is an EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 Michigan and Northwest Ohio Finalist, and also sits on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Breaking into a male-dominated industry
Maria started her career at the Department of Natural Resources in the State of Michigan, where she learned about illegal dumping and mercury pollution in the Great Lakes.
The same day Maria found out she was pregnant with her second son, she decided to start her own business: one dedicated to raising awareness about recycling and proper waste disposal. In the beginning, Maria focused on customer education, selling containers, and subcontracting other companies to do the hauling.
But all that changed when the US Army contracted her for both recycling and trash removal. At the time, Maria didn’t know anything about trash hauling and she didn’t yet have her own trucks, but she took the contract and vowed to figure it out. She received excellent ratings from the United States Army for the completion of a successful 5-year waste and recycling contract–and the business has only grown from there.
Managing financial risk
Maria didn’t jump right into trash hauling. She waited seven years to buy her own trucks, until she was certain the company could support the investment.
Maria has never taken on investors–she’s bootstrapped the company, getting loans when necessary but always careful not to get in over her head financially. She’s extremely conscious that her employees are relying on her and never makes large investment in personnel or equipment until she knows the work will be there.
Taking care of yourself as a CEO
After 24 years in business, Maria knows that in order to be at her best for her customers and employees, she needs to take care of herself first. She makes an effort to stay in good shape mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Maintaining a positive attitude is key. No matter what happened in the office that day, Maria switches off at night by reminding herself she did the best she could–and that she needs to rest so that she can do it all again tomorrow.
Enjoy this episode with CEO and Founder, Maria Marin…
“I always wanted to have my own business. I always wanted to be independent because I felt like I wanted to fly, I had wings, and I was restricted. I wanted to be unlimited.”
“I love to learn and I think we’re never done learning. Every day is an opportunity to grow.”
“I don’t have to prove myself to anyone except my customers, my employees, myself, and my family.”
“Have I faced adversity? Absolutely, but I think we all do at some point. It is a male-dominated industry, but when I walk into a room, I feel like I’m bringing so much value. My head is high. I have many, many years that I have dedicated, I have sacrificed to give to this community, and to give to the company.”
“I try to take care of myself first–mentally, emotionally, and physically. Because if I’m not those things, then what do I have to offer to my team, my family, and my customers? So it’s very important to me to stay in good shape in every way that I can and to stay in that positive attitude.”
Links mentioned in this episode:
Unlimited Recycling Website: http://www.unlimitedrecycling.com
Unlimited Recycling Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DumpsterPlus/
Connect with Maria Marin on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/unlimitedrecycling/
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