City of Roses, the first African American owned solid waste and recycling company in Oregon, is a specialized hauler for construction and demolition waste. Since it was founded in 1996 by Al Simpson, City of Roses has been a fixture in the community. They’re an innovative, socially conscious B-Corp Certified company that values the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit.
LEED Buildings, CORE Recycling and a focus on sustainability.
When Al's son Alando joined the family business in 2007, LEED was just growing in popularity. Alando felt it would continue to grow, and saw an opportunity for City of Roses to establish themselves as a hauler that could help clients achieve LEED points under the materials management credit.
In 2012, City of Roses’ recycling division, CORE Recycling, opened its own sorting facility, allowing them to capture more materials for recycling, and send less to the landfill. It also allowed them to provide LEED clients with the site-specific data necessary to achieve points.
City of Roses invests in the human capital needed to sort and store materials from particular projects to guarantee clients higher recycling and recovery rates. Alando helps LEED clients by documenting the recycling process and the specifics of their high recovery rates.
Alando’s foresight has paid off; City of Roses is now a leader in the industry.
- In 2014, had a 68% recycling rate for comingled materials that did NOT come to the facility already sorted as recycling.
- CORE Recycling has a 65% average recovery rate.
City of Roses also believes in growing a diverse work force: 85% of their employees identify as a person of color. Alando, who worked the front line at the company starting at age 19, works to maximize each employee’s potential. “We really invest in employees, giving them the skills and resources and wisdom to get a better opportunity – be it with City of Roses, another company, or starting their own company.” Alando wants his employees to see work not as a job but as a community they want to be a part of. He keeps an open dialogue with employees and aims to create a shared vision for the company.
Looking toward the future: Increasing recycling and reuse
City of Roses recently opened up a deconstruction and demolition division to salvage more materials for reuse. With the new division, they are working to create a recovered materials list so developers can use reused materials in new buildings. Alando aspires to expand City of Roses to a full service hauler and materials management company that will provide services for demolition and construction, and then serve as the building’s garbage and recycling company once it’s built.
Alando is always finding ways to give back to the community – be it other businesses, his employees, or community organizations. Here are a few ways he works to build up the local economy by investing in youth in underserved communities:
National Association of Minority Contractors – Oregon
Alando sits on the board of the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMCO). Through NAMCO, Alando is working to build bridges that connect resources and tools with underserved youth. One way NAMCO is doing this is through scholarships to youth who study construction, architecture, urban planning and other fields related to contracting.
Alando wants to give youth tools to sustain a community of their own. To Alando, one of the biggest problems with gentrification is the lack of education and resources to help people make informed decisions while their communities are changing. With NAMCO, he’s working to provide youth from East Portland the education and experience that can help them better retain and build up their own communities.
Three years ago, Alando started FAST camp – Fitness And Sustenance Training – to empower and invest in younger kids. Alando grew up in North Portland but went to school in the West Hills. His peers at school demonized his community and were “scared of the east side.” Alando wants to help kids break down the silos of ethnicity and class and build a framework for building prosperous communities for future generations.
FAST camp uses sports as a way to bring kids together across cultural, class and ethnic backgrounds. One of the biggest disparities in underserved communities is health, and sports help people stay fit and healthy. At FAST camp, sports are a tool to empower youth to invest in their physical well-being while also giving them powerful role models.
What does FAST camp do?
- Build and sustain communities through sport.
- Develop support networks and integrate communities.
- Encourage sports to empower underserved/underrepresented youth.
- Empower vulnerable communities with the knowledge to reverse nutritional disparities.
FAST camp works closely with its Community Partners – Hacienda CDC, NAYA Family Center and the African Youth and Community Organization (AYCO) - because they know the kids the best: who they are, and what challenges and disparities they face.
FAST camp runs quarterly challenges for kids to become more health and fitness conscious. Community Partners are responsible for overseeing the youth participating in the challenges. FAST camp gives out prizes like shoes and backpacks to participating youth.
FAST camp is looking to grow a program to eliminate food deserts in underserved communities and improve access to healthy cost-effective food. Alando wants to give kids metrics around healthy food consumption and is working on ways to help them eat more affordable fruits and vegetables.