Sullivan County First Recycling
& Refuse Inc.
In 1997, Shirley Felder-Morton had the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to own her own business. A single mother with six children, she had few resources other than her experience as the daily operations manager for two small sanitation companies, her knowledge of business, people skills, and a desire to succeed. Shirley started Sullivan County First Recycling & Refuse with two old trucks, approximately 400 well-used containers of various sizes and a small customer base.
Determined to set herself apart from the competition, Shirley painted her trucks and containers purple, then established a discounted rate for the elderly and those willing to voluntarily recycle. She was soon a featured speaker at breakfasts and luncheons hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations. In one year, her sales went from $0 to $200,000. Through frugality and astute purchasing, the company acquired pre-owned trucks, which were then customized to create multi-function refuse and recycling vehicles. The company leased additional containers and painted everything the same shade of purple.
Over the next year or so, the business continued to grow through reinvestment of revenues, utilization of Workforce Development and Welfare to Work programs, and hard work. In 2000, Shirley met the director of the Mid-Hudson SBDC at a business seminar and shortly thereafter requested assistance with the expansion of her business. The SBDC helped her assemble a financial package to complete construction of a maintenance building, acquire two new three-function vehicles, acquire additional containers, provide working capital, and buy more purple paint.
In 2002, Shirley was named Fleet Bank Entrepreneur of the Year and New York SBDC Minority Entrepreneur of the Year. Today, she has 50 employees, 12 trucks on the road, including two new state-of-the-art vehicles, more than 800 containers in use, thousands of customers and 7 figure sales.