When, 27 years ago, Exley Mixon started his asset optimization business, Silicon Valley still had acres and acres of orchards, and recycling wasn't even an industry.
“We started a recycling business when it was considered the ugly, redheaded stepchild—when green was still a color and not a concept,” Mixon says, laughing.
So why start a recycling company in 1984, when others couldn't see the value?
“Recycling was a personal value for me, but I also didn't kid myself. I knew it was the dirty side of the business, where I worked with the guy with the cigarettes rolled up in his sleeves,” he says.
But like most entrepreneurs who can visualize business value before others can see it, Mixon knew that value in excess material was there. Manufacturing in 1984 was still in the area, and companies at the time were more interested in developing new products than getting into the business of recycling.
“I was working at HP in the 1970s, when companies used to throw out excess material that would either go to landfill or get retrieved and sold by dumpster divers,” Mixon says.
“This was the first-generation model, where people tossed things that showed up in the marketplace and weren't supposed to be there—everything from complete systems down to the semiconductor chip level. If it didn't have OEM information on it, companies didn't care.”
Hewlett-Packard would be one of the companies in the forefront of what would eventually become the green wave, when 20 years ...