In 2003, when the recycling company Thomas and Julia Maier worked at shut down, the pair decided to go start their own business. The pair founded MAIREC, the German recycling company specialising in the recovery of precious metals from business and industrial scrap and residues.
They began working out of their home, buying and selling scrap metals. Initially, the company had to fight to compete with bigger competitors for customers, and then was hit hard by the GFC. But the business survived, and over the years, has grown and prospered. In 2015, it expanded its operations into the US, opening a branch in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Passion & harmony
“We are a vision-led company,” says Julia. MAIREC is strongly guided by the principles of passion and harmony.
“As a company, when we have new project or new idea, we always ask ourselves and our team, ‘When you imagine working on this project, do you feel a sense of passion and harmony?’" And if the consensus is that the project is just about making money, and doesn't give people a sense of passion or harmony? "In that case, we wouldn’t do it,” she affirms.
The company also hires based on those principles. “We want to find talented, creative, intelligent people for our company and to help them to develop their potential,” explains Julia. “So we promote talent and professional development, as well as personal development.”
“We give a lot of freedom but also responsibility,” says Julia. Employees at MAIREC have a lot of flexibility to move into different roles and areas of the company. “They can choose the job, but once they make that choice, then we expect them to work at their absolute best.”
MAIREC is certified to handle waste at the highest level in Germany, including dangerous and hazardous waste. The company aims to save as much waste as possible from ending up in landfills. And by sourcing precious metals from industrial goods for reuse, the company preserves natural resources. “As a recycling company, we do a lot for the environment,” says Julia. “Sourcing precious metals like gold, platinum and palladium from mining is much more expensive at the moment, and it’s a stress on the environment.” Conversely, recycling is lower in cost, easier and much better for planet.
The next step for the company, says Julia, is to start recycling solar panels. “Rooftop solar panels are big business in Germany at the moment. But after 20 years, the panels are scrap,” she explains. “Somebody has to do something with it. We want to try to save the glass because it’s very expensive and very hard to produce and there’s also silver in solar panels that we want to recycle.”