It was by pure chance that Shannon Dwire became the president of Millennium Recycling, a top servicer of Sioux Falls’ recycled materials.
She started schooling for graphic design and advertising but realized the field was “overpopulated.” After getting married, she took a temp job at what was then Python’s Recycling and Midwest Office Supplies for some extra cash.
“This job took me from data entry to working with some customers, running errands, and operating some equipment when short-staffed. I jumped in wherever they needed me,” Dwire said.
With Python going through management changes, the company offered Dwire a temporary management position which jumpstarted her career in the recycling business.
Soon after, Jake Anderson would make his move to Sioux Falls to buy the company and rename it Millennium Recycling Inc.
“This business is never dull. It is ever-changing, and we’re always challenged and continue to learn,” she said.
Learning to form nationwide connections and give second chances
Since being appointed president in 2017, Dwire has continued to build on a foundation of successful relationships.
“The transition has gone better than I could’ve imagined,” Millennium owner Jake Anderson said. “After encouraging her to jump in, she wasted no time bringing her own unique style and expertise to the position. It has really energized the entire organization and created a domino effect as other key personnel have taken on expanded roles and greater responsibilities.”
As recycling becomes an increasingly more important part of conserving our natural resources, Millennium has focused on education and communication on recycling best practices. In addition, Millennium has formed bonds all over the United States, from paper mills to plastic companies, to manufacturers and metal markets, to brokers.
“Recycling is an opportunity to market, it’s an opportunity to educate, and it’s an opportunity to also be involved even politically in small towns, counties, states, and federal entities,” Dwire said.
Though it’s important to maintain connections with other businesses, Dwire notes the most important relationships grow within Millennium.
“This is such a diverse job, and we have the ability to meet people in all walks of life,” Dwire said.
The company has made changes to provide employees with more resources and mentorship opportunities. Millennium employs and advocates for individuals with difficult backgrounds, such as addiction, incarceration, and homelessness. Dwire sees and feels inspiration from such employees, with “little wins” every day. It might be working with an employee though personal struggles or seeing them rise to a challenge and succeed.
“It’s so rewarding to work with people who are motivated, creative, continue to educate themselves, and who work and think outside of the box,” Dwire said. “We’ve learned to be a resource and a starting point for those who are entering the workforce or beginning to build a resume.”
The recycling business may be a male-dominated field, but that hasn’t hindered Dwire’s determination to be the best leader she can be: something she learned at a young age from her parents.
“[They] have always reminded me to work hard, be committed, and make the best out of whatever you do or wherever you work,” she said.
During challenging environment for recycling, Dwire remains a strong leader
The recycling business has become a family affair with Dwire’s relatives taking on various roles, including her husband, Travis, who works in the transport side of Millennium. Between working full-time with Millennium, raising four daughters, and keeping up with their (hobby) farm, the Dwires stay pretty busy.
“I’m blessed to work for an owner, Jake, who is always available, active, educated in the industry, and encourages input and independence,” Dwire said.
Anderson says there’s no one better than Shannon to handle all of the challenges and innovations that come with the recycling industry.
“It’s a challenging time in the recycling industry with Chinese restrictions, new tariffs, and a sluggish economy,” Anderson said. “But given Shannon’s extensive experience in the business, there is no better person to navigate the company through this period.”
Watch our commercial featuring the Millennium Recycling story here!