Room One as it is affectionately called at Northstar Recycling in Little Falls.
by Dave Warner
Northstar Recycling is one of those hidden Little Falls gems – a business that exists here in town, employs quite a few people, and yet is something most know nothing about.
Seth Goodman, CEO of the company, and his brother Noah are fifth generation family members in the recycling business and up until 2011, they had worked right alongside their father.
According to Seth “We had different visions for where we wanted the company to go. We saw a really great future working with national manufacturing companies, where we could help them reach their sustainability goals in waste and recycling.”
The brothers saw a trend where companies had started to make declarations about the fact that they were going to become a zero landfill waste company by a certain date.
“These companies made those declarations, but they weren’t sure how they were going to get there,” said Seth. And that, was the opportunity for them.
Their goal became one where they would help those companies get there, so in 2011 they split off from their father and started Northstar Recycling.
Seth stated “We started with ten employees in East Longmeadow Massachusetts. When we split from our dad, we took some of our clients with us. They were clients that had a national presence, and we also took some of the employees with us.”
One of those employees was Amanda Zawtocki, and she was the only one in Little Falls at the time.
The Goodman’s had needed someone to work a contract here in Little Falls that they had with Burrows, so they originally hired Ed Becker.
“I worked at Burrows on contract with a transportation company, because my background was in freight. Ed was going to be the buyer for Northstar,” said Zawtocki.
“Ed said that he had just started with Northstar and they needed a freight person and that he was going to have them call me.”
They called Zawtocki the next day and had her come out to Springfield MA for an interview. “And I got hired,” she said.
“That’s how I started with them. I worked down at the pulp mill on the freight piece of that contract.”
“After a couple of years, we experienced some growth and Amanda suggested that we hire her sister, and we did. So the two of them worked out of Little Falls,” said Seth.
Fast forward a couple of years and the company was growing pretty quickly. “We said Amanda, we need to reorganize our company and we need someone to build out and lead our account management team, and we’d like that person to be you. However, we really need you to move to East Longmeadow,” Seth stated.
Well, the response was not what they expected. She said “thank you, I think that I’d do a great job, but my family is here and my roots are in Little Falls.”
Zawtocki thought about it for a couple of days though, and then called the brothers back, telling them that she could build an incredible team, right here in Little Falls.
She told them “You won’t miss a beat, it will be a high performing team, there are a lot of great employees here in the Little Falls area that are working in roles they are overqualified for and I think I can get a lot of people to join our organization and help you guys build your company.”
Seth said “We were sold.”
According to Zawtocki “I thought they were going to be like ah no and they came back and were like ok, yeah, let’s do it!”
Zawtocki has gone from a team of two people to twenty nine today, all working in Little Falls under her direction. And next month, she’ll be hiring another two. There are an additional two people that work remotely and report to Zawtocki as well.
The second floor of Stone Mill can only handle 40-45 people with the current floor plan that the company has. “Think about this. We started in Little Falls four years ago and there were two people. Today there are 29, soon to be 31. If I had to guess, we’ll be able to reach our maximum,” said Zawtocki.
Zawtocki also thinks they are doing something really new and innovative. “I think we’re filling a need that was in the market…I think that’s why we’re able to get clients so easily. There’s a need for what we’re bringing to the table and there aren’t a lot of people doing it.”
But as to why it’s happening? “I really think it’s about the culture. The culture is fantastic and it’s really driven by Seth and Noah,” she stated.
Seth says that the culture and mission of their company is one that attracts all of the best and brightest candidates. “Plus the fact that we’re actually helping our clients divert material from the landfill into a more beneficial use,” he said.
Zawtocki said “I think they (Seth and Noah) are actively looking for people who drive the culture forward. That’s why we’re so successful, and that’s why we attract people in the door and why people are interested in what we’re doing here because it’s really cool.”
“I am amazed at the degree of the experience and education that we get here. If you come in the door and you are engaging, interested and ask me questions, that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for the spark,” said Zawtocki.
That company culture has employees very involved in charity work. “Every year in October, we sit down and talk about donations and what we can do in the community. All of the employees in the department donate money and then Seth and Noah match it dollar for dollar,” Zawtocki said.
“It starts in October and goes right through Christmas. We were able to help a lot of people last year,” she said.
“We look around and try to see where we can do the most good.”
“Our Little Falls office is just a phenomenal group of people that really buy into what our organization believes in. Our plan is to continue to build out that group for the coming years,” said Seth.
The company has approximately 65 employees at this time and in a couple of years they plan on building to over 100. Seth stated “A percentage of that growth will occur in Little Falls as well.”
Every quarter, the employees comes together at one location for a company meeting. Last year, they decided that at least one of those meetings should be in Little Falls each year.
“We had the entire company come to Little Falls last November and we had an amazing company event. We fill up the hotels, eat at the restaurants, drink at the bars, and we hope we’re helping out just a little bit in the revitalization of Little Falls,” stated Seth.
If you’d like to know more about the company, you can visit their website at https://northstarrecycling.com/