City of Roses Disposal and Recycling Services is the first African-American owned integrated solid waste and recycling company in the State of Oregon, and Vice-President Alando Simpson did not think he would be part of it.
His father, Alonzo Simpson founded the company in 1996 while working in the maintenance bureau of the City of Portland. Alonzo had always dreamed of owning his own business and in his free time on weekends and evenings turned this dream in to reality.
His son, Alando, did not have dreams of garbage in his future. His degree from Portland State was in communications, and he was an avid basketball player. It was at Portland State though, that Alando first came across the concept of sustainability, LEED certification, and the ‘triple bottom line’ economy. To Alando, sustainability equaled common sense and a reflection of the values his father had already instilled in him. Sustainability what they already did, but they just didn’t have a name for it. It was thriftiness; a way to conserve valuable resources, which didn’t come for free. You turned the tap off when brushing your teeth; you turned the lights off when you weren’t in the room. With a father in the business of garbage, Alando learned that when you throw things away they don’t just disappear-someone needs to handle that waste.
This concept of sustainability stayed with Alando during his journeys away from Portland and when he found his way back and saw his father continuing to work his day job and run a growing business, something clicked.
At first, in order to help his father retire from the City of Portland, Alando started writing a business plan to develop and grow the business and to build a recycling facility. Alando had connected this fairly new concept of sustainability to what his father was already doing and recognized that it was going to be big in Portland.
With the concept of sustainability to be the focus on how to grow the company, Alando moved forward, and in 2011 with help from the Portland Development Commission and the State of Oregon, City of Roses built the first LEED nucleus recycling facility in Portland.
It was not an easy process. Alando’s proposal had been rejected twice by banks, and while that humbled him, it also increased his drive. The main lessons he learned was the importance of building networks and relationships, seek mentors, and be actively involved with your community.
He encourages all business in Portland to consider sustainability, and for people to think about sustainability not just from one perspective. The triple bottom line concept in business includes the idea of profit and loss, but also considers the environment and the community. It is, as Alando puts it, “just common sense.”
And what does Alando think of garbage now? “It’s amazing.” He says. “Amazing.”