From fixing laptops to hawking real estate to demolishing buildings is not what you’d call a standard career progression. But for Newburgh native Stacie Laskin, 36, she was just following in her family’s footsteps.
“I went to Marist College, and after studying computer science, I was pretty good at troubleshooting computers,” Laskin explains. “I did that for a few years, but realized it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.” She also had a foot in the real estate world, but when the market crashed, knew it was time to move on.
“Years ago, my grandfather had a scrap-metal yard in Newburgh,” she continues. “My dad took it over when my grandfather passed on; it’s closed down now. And my brother has a salvage company in North Carolina. The business is definitely in my blood; I remember going into the Newburgh office as a teenager.”
So in 2011, she decided to launch her own salvage company, Global Recycling. “I’ve always had my own way of wanting to do something and going after it. I said, ‘I can do this,’ and I opened the business with zero funding.”
Global Recycling (the Web site refers to Laskin as “The Queen of Steel”) specializes in salvage removal; she doesn’t have her own scrap yard but instead works on-site. “We deal in all kinds of metal. It might be a large, burned-out building; we’ll demolish it. Or it could be old machinery, trucks, water towers, aircraft, plumbing, or construction materials that need to be removed — you name it.
“It used to be called the ‘junk’ or ‘scrap’ business, but now it’s called ‘recycling,’ ” she laughs. “Every job is different. Sometimes there will be large quantities of a certain material. We have to figure out how to process it, then we sell it.” She doesn’t have employees, but instead uses a team of workers appropriate for each job.
On one project, Laskin’s company demolished a 16,000-square-foot building in Poughkeepsie. “After demolition, we recycled the steel and blocks and debris. Or, say I’m buying a scrap truck from someone — a big tractor-trailer; I usually have to size the scrap material down and then put it into a container to haul it out.”
Laskin also had to learn how to operate the tools of her business — everything from a blowtorch for cutting huge hunks of metal to a giant excavating machine — by taking a heavy equipment operating class. “There are no requirements to work the machines, you either learn it or you don’t,” she says. After she knew the tricks of the trade, she hit the ground running. “My first big job, I had to cut down a 125,000-pound piece of machinery. I used my torch, and it took two weeks, but I did it.”
Global Recycling earned the Orange County Chamber of Commerce’s Green Business of the Year award in 2012 because of Laskin’s dedication to recycling all of the materials from her demolition projects: Metals are melted down and debris is crushed into stone. “I love being on the cutting edge of the green business,” she says.
Her biggest challenge? “Just getting the job in the first place, because I’m a female in a male-oriented industry,” Laskin says. Even with industry qualifications that include certifications as a Women’s Business Enterprise and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, “you’ve still got to get your foot in the door,” she says. “It’s definitely a challenge to be a woman in this industry, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Once the guys see I know what I’m doing, and that I work hard, they get over the ‘woman’ thing. Then it’s great.”
Along with bidding on new projects and handling existing ones, Laskin is also juggling motherhood. She’s stepmom to her partner’s two children, and the new mom of a seven-and-a-half-month-old son. “It can be hard being a mom and working; when I get a big job, I have to be there. But my family’s love and support keeps me going.”
For other businesswomen, she has some recommendations: “If there’s something you’re not familiar with, go to the best people in that particular area and learn from them.” She suggests networking with the local chamber of commerce, other business people, and economic development agencies. “You have to stay on top of putting yourself out there,” she says.
“I’d also tell other women not to get discouraged,” she adds. “You may knock on one door and they may close it in your face. But there are a million other doors you can knock on. You just have to stay persistent.”