CDRA Member Spotlight: Terri Ward

Terri Ward, VP Sales & Business Development at TORXX Kinetic, Inc. in Chattanooga, TN

Terri Ward

What materials do you recycle? Can you describe the volume and types of incoming materials you process?

As an equipment supplier to the industry, I don’t have a recycling facility. However, most of my work in C&D has been with mixed C&D recycling facilities ranging from 25-100 tons per hour. Starting with primary shredding (20 years ago) to prepare material for downstream sorting, I’ve also been involved in facility design and optimization, including automated recovery and secondary processing. Whether generating alternative fuel, converting fines for beneficial use, or mattress recycling, many of my customers have sought vertical integration to have more control over volatile end markets. With the TORXX Kinetic Pulverizer® technology, I’m now able to offer additional solutions for recovery and closed-loop recycling of building materials.

How did you get started in the business?

I was introduced to waste processing and recycling through my first ‘real’ job after college—entering the workforce during a recession as a contract administrator for a Portland-based heavy and marine construction company. A one-time Fortune 100, the company took on an ambitious 600 ton/day MSW composting plant. I was involved in construction and equipment procurement for the $30m plant, then on-site through the year-long commissioning and performance trials. The process was ahead of its time (over 30 years ago), ultimately failing due to odor and compost quality issues. However, this challenging experience and the connections made with engineers, scientists, construction professionals, and equipment suppliers are what hooked me into waste and recycling as a career.

What are the biggest challenges in your market and C&D recycling?

The biggest challenge I see is the ever-changing economic and regulatory landscape, which makes labor even more scarce, keeps end markets unstable, and makes expansion tricky—especially for smaller private operators.

Where are the biggest opportunities?

I think ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) metrics, EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility), and other climate change initiatives are putting pressure on national brands—including building material manufacturers—to not only increase recycled content in their products, but to also play a more direct role in developing closed-loop recycling solutions. This in turn should increase the value of recovered materials and the availability of end markets for the materials our facilities recover.

How long have you been a member of CDRA?

I’ve been a CDRA member for as long as I can remember—my first C&D World was around 2003. I have been playing a more active role over the last (5) years, joining the Board of Directors, taking on the Membership & Marketing committee chair position, and becoming an executive board member. 

What inspired you to join CDRA?

Early on, I joined for the networking and learning opportunities. However, I quickly recognized the core of the CDRA were owner-operators—the entrepreneurial, creative, and early adopters who understand how to deploy technology to impact their bottom line. The decision-makers for these companies were—and still are—actively involved in the CDRA. Selling engineered products always works best when the end-user is fully engaged in understanding the trade-offs of one solution over another. There are no magic ‘black boxes’ to solve every problem. The best successes and breakthroughs come when the manufacturer and operator are in alignment with expectations and share the responsibility for innovation.

What do you find most rewarding about working in this industry?

I love solving problems and developing solutions that create value. The reward comes after equipment delivery and installation when you can see what you envisioned come to life and the customer recognizes the value you brought to the table.

What challenges have you faced over the years and how have you overcome them?

Entering a male-oriented industry as a young female was challenging—as much because I wasn’t naturally respected, but also because I didn’t expect to be. I overcame my lack of confidence by assuming I needed to know more than any of my peers. I found the courage to ask questions and kept asking when I didn’t understand. I found mentors, took tours and more tours, attended conferences, challenged ‘why’ things were done the way they were. I generally found there were few secrets and few real experts. By taking this approach, I developed a true passion and am honored to have become a trusted resource for many of my customers over the years.

What’s something about you (a fun fact) that not many people know?

Many people know I love wine and travel—especially to Hawaii. Not many people know I love rodeos, am a Denver Broncos fan, played three sports throughout high school and two in college, or that I learned to speak Japanese and studied in Tokyo during my undergraduate years.

What advice would you give to someone interested in this industry?

I would tell them to join the CDRA, attend the C&D World conference, join a committee, leverage the knowledge and connections available. There are many experienced people working in all aspects of the industry— and most are very open and generous with their time. You just have to ask.

Best piece of business advice you’ve gotten or learned over the years?

“No business is better than bad business”, meaning no matter how badly you want to make a sale or have a business relationship, it’s okay to walk away if it’s one-sided or inconsistent with your capabilities or values. Nobody wins in the end.


Would you like to have your company in a spotlight like this? Contact CDRA Executive Director William Turley at [email protected] or 630-258-9047. 

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