Anderson Continuing Recycling Industry Success in Sioux Falls
(Taken from The KU Economist VOL 9/ ISSUE 2 SPRING 2017)
One KU Economics Department alum has built his career as a leader in recycling. Jake Anderson, KU Class of ’94, has served since 1999 as president and CEO of Millennium Recycling, Inc. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After being founded amid very modest beginnings, the company has now become one of the largest material recovery facilities in the Upper Midwest, processing over 50,000 tons of raw materials for the ultimate benefit of manufacturers throughout North America and beyond.
Millennium in 2004 expanded its business model (beyond recycling paper, plastics, metals, and glass), becoming the first South Dakota company to recycle consumer electronics. While much of the focus in that era was on “end of life” recycling of obsolete electronics, Jake quickly discovered the demand for gently used and refurbished systems and parts. To keep up with the growing demand for refurbishment, he opened a retail establishment in 2006 that operated as a division of Millennium. In 2016, that business officially moved all inventory online to reach a wider market while focusing its local efforts on business services through its newly re-branded parent company, Secure Enterprise Asset Management (SEAM). That company is now recycling or
refurbishing over 3 million pounds of IT assets annually.
Jake believes that a good many of the principles he learned while earning his economics degree at KU have been instrumental in his business success. He has especially fond memories of taking classes from former longtime KU professors David Faurot and Joe Sicilian.
“My economics courses at KU taught me critical thinking skills and gave me the tools to be able to look through a big picture macroeconomic lens while also being able to break things down to a more local and regional level,” he said. “The recycling industry is a commodity business that has become very global in nature over the last two decades, particularly with the exponential growth in emerging markets and especially in China. Our industry tends to be a leading indicator of economic adjustments, and I am always looking at trends to anticipate future impacts on our business and the overall economy.”
“At the same time, all recycling is local,” he explained. “Each individual community in this country has their own programs and infrastructure with respect to collection, material processing and waste disposition. Understanding those dynamics is crucial for a recycling facility operator.”
Jake participated in a special trade mission to China in 2013 with South Dakota Governor Daugaard. His success within the industry has been featured in Recycling Today magazine. He also sits on the advisory board of a regional bank in Sioux Falls, where he is always seeking to sharpen his focus on the local, regional, national and international economic outlook.
A huge KU basketball fan, Jake remembers how crazy campus was when KU beat Indiana and Arkansas in the 1991 run to Final Four, and he also recalls being at KU’s recordbreaking 150-95 win over Kentucky and Rick Pitino at Allen Fieldhouse in 1989. He did manage to make it back to Lawrence in 2016 to see a game for the first time in many years.
Some of his favorite off-campus hangouts back in the day included Johnny’s and The Wheel. He also recalls seeing Pearl Jam perform at the 1992 Day on the Hill just as the former garage band from Seattle was skyrocketing in popularity. But his most vivid memory of his days at KU may be one of his final ones as an undergraduate.
“The walk down from the Campanile to Memorial Stadium on graduation day was something I won’t ever forget,” he said.