I was helping my Uncle move into his new home in San Ramon. My Uncle had a 1500 lbs monster Mid-Range Computer. I used to dream about putting my BS degree from San Jose State (Class of 1992) to good use and making all sorts of stuff with that device once I graduated.
I was mortified when during the move, he dumped the whole unit in the local landfill. Is that what's going to happen to the millions of computers that the public was buying like candy as they welcomed the Digital Age? There had to be a better solution. In 1997 I was running a startup called Printers R Us when I was offered a buyout deal. I was 28 years of age and financially free, and I began to think of what to do with the rest of my life. Mr. Arnold the new California Governor was promoting recycling and I said, "That's it! I am going to rescue computers that are no longer needed." I launched recycle1234.com in my garage.
I then moved it to the Public Storage facility on Alvarado-Niles Road. We then moved to a 1000 sq ft place on Western Ave, then 2500 sq ft on Pacific Ave, then 6000 sq ft on Western Ave and now 3 Centers - Union City 13,000 sq feet, Hayward 80,000 sq ft and Milpitas 3000 sq ft. We divert almost 2 Million pounds of e-waste from the Landfill every month.
I also decided to hire people that needed a 2nd chance. All our employees were students, who society had deemed as "rejects", they just needed somebody to believe in them. We worked with the City of Union City and hired a lot of kids from Union City gangs and then sent them on their way after teaching them basic warehousing skills. We hired Veterans for our management positions. Our drivers were all Drug Rehab folks from a company called CURA in Fremont. Today we work very closely with Alameda County SSA. I used to go to Home Depot and feel bad for the 25-50 men who would run after my car for a day job. I decided to do something about it. I started a class where I would teach them how to make fliers and start their own small recycling pickup business. I would then pay them for the e-waste they brought me. Today over 77 families have their own business and they do not need to run after every truck that pulls into the Home Depot parking lot.
I have 4 boys. I pray that God give me the wisdom to make good decisions, so I can set the right example for them. United States is an amazing country. Lets keep it amazing by doing our part and recycling our electronics responsibly
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