This week, our company president: Blake Brannon, sat down with Recycling Today to talk all things BIG on the Fresh Perspective podcast. It’s our honor to share that interview with you today. Brannon Industrial Group is proud to be represented by Blake, and we’re grateful for the leadership and insight he exuded in this exchange.
Read the conversation summary below, or click HERE to listen to the whole thing.
Summary courtesy of Fresh Perspective- Recycling Today
President of Brannon Industrial Group
Blake Brannon did not grow up in the scrap industry, but he did grow up in an entrepreneurial family. His father, Mike, owned a large trucking company called Trism Specialized Carriers in Georgia, while his mom, Cindy, worked her way up to a leadership position at Compaq Computers.
Blake followed in his parents’ footsteps, studying business and entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at San Antonio from 2004 to 2007. He also was a student-athlete, playing on the university baseball team and eventually for several minor league teams in the late 2000s.
Mike sold his trucking company to start a roll-off delivery company in Brenham, Texas. Blake says he realized he needed to shift gears as his baseball career ended in 2010, so he joined his father’s company. He convinced his father to focus on scrap metal, and the business evolved into what is known today as Premier Metal Buyers, a ferrous and nonferrous recycler.
“Early years of the business were pretty tough,” Blake says of his time with Premier. “When I told my dad I wanted to get into the scrap business, he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I said, ‘OK, well let me borrow some money.’ He told me no. I think, honestly ... it was probably the best thing that he ever did was to tell me no.”
Blake’s family has a 30- to 35-acre farm in Brenham, and he went there to clean up some of the metal, getting $15,000 to start the business.
“I had a scrap yard in Houston; I would open early, deliver the material, get paid, put that in the bank and then take money out the next day to buy more scrap for the yard," he says. "It was definitely a grind when we first started, but it’s a lot of fun.
“I think my favorite thing about entrepreneurship is you get to learn something. ... You’re always learning. If you’re not learning, I think you’re missing out,” Blake says. “You can learn something new every day in this business.”
Since Premier Metal Buyers opened in 2010, the company has diversified and now operates five business units, including BVR Waste and Recycling, BVR Dumpster Rentals, Premier Metal Buyers, Stop and Go Potties and Brand It Graphix. Brannon Industrial Group was formed to encompass the business units.
In the following interview, Blake shares more about the growth of Brannon Industrial Group (BIG).
Recycling Today (RT): How did your family business expand beyond Premier Metal Buyers?
Blake Brannon (BB): We made our first large acquisition—BVR Waste and Recycling and Stop and Go Potties—in 2017. Our business and employee count doubled overnight. It was definitely a lot to handle.
The biggest lesson learned is that when you’re looking at these things that cultures align. Those were difficulties we had to overcome. We got through it, but it wasn’t easy.
RT: How does BIG ensure the same quality across its business units?
BB: If you have a culture focused on quality, like servant leadership, and you truly care about the people, you’re working for your customers, you want to be a value to them and you create great relationships. … If you’re focused on all the little things, that’s what makes us successful.
RT: What's next for the business?
BB: We ended up demoing some offshore rigs this year because a customer of ours trusted us and needed help. ... There’s hopefully more of that to come. But it all comes from trying to listen to customers ... then figuring out if it’s something we can do. If not, we make sure we pass them to the right people.
We don’t have to be part of everything; we just want to make sure they get what they need.