WINDSOR, ONATARIO — Jeremy Berger isn't your typical CEO.
He gladly takes wardrobe direction from his assistant.
He regularly calls his competitors for advice.
He and his two co-owners cap their weekly Friday lunch with a visit to a candy store.
Despite his easy-going manner, Berger has Green Processing Co. Inc. working as an aggressive player in the plastics recycling world. Launched in 2008, Green Processing's sales will reach C$25 million ($18.9 million) this year, a dramatic 50 percent increase from 2014. Berger predicts C$30 million ($22.6 million) in sales in 2016 for the Windsor-based recycler and reusable container company.
The secret? The culture.
“We have a fun group of people. We like working well together. We try to bring people on board that fit in our group. So I don't know that it's something that we necessarily think about, but we do think about it,” said Berger, 34, who created a recycling company on paper for his MBA program at Wayne State University and then worked for nine years in purchasing and sales at Pazner Environmental Ltd. in Ontario.
“Every time we look for someone we end up talking about their personality and whether or not we see them benefiting us from an enjoyment standpoint as much as from a productivity standpoint,” he said.
That's fitting for a guy who envisioned himself running a small regional company with one facility, one grinder and 10 employees.
Instead, Berger and his partners employ 100 and operate in Canada, Mexico and in the Midwest, South and Eastern United States. Not bad for a group of high school friends from Windsor. They share equally in the company's ownership even though Berger wears the CEO hat. He handles purchasing and sales, while partner Mohit Nayar serves as controller and Sam Farhat directs operations as vice president.
The friends have a simple way to make major decisions.
“Majority rules and don't be sour with the decision,” said Berger, who admits to being on the losing end of votes at times in the three-person ownership group.
The trio is about to open its sixth location, a 25,000-square-foot facility in Birmingham, Ala., to serve the automotive market in the South. They settled on Birmingham after considering Chattanooga, Tenn., and Atlanta. Berger said any new location must have direct flights from Detroit.