Today we’d like to introduce you to Laurel Harrop.
Laurel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started the business in 2011 out of a small 800 square foot storage unit in San Marcos, CA. At the start of the business, the projects were interior lighting conversions for main warehouses. Recycling warehouse lights turned into parking lot lights and parking lots led to my researching street lights. I realized there was a niche recycling opportunity for city and utility LED street lighting conversions. Initially, I learned the components of these lights by dismantling them myself and within a few months, I hired two employees. We quickly outgrew this tiny storage space and moved into a larger warehouse in Oceanside. In 2012, the City of San Diego was converting 35,000 street lights and I knew this was my chance to get my foot in the door.
After successfully completing this very large conversion, we were given the opportunity for a three-year contract with Pacific Gas & Electric, opening a 13,000 square foot facility in Stockton, CA where we handled the recycling of nearly 170,000 street lights over a 70,000 square mile service territory. We now handle street lighting projects all over the country and have assisted cities, utilities and contractors with recycling hundreds of thousands of street lights. Laurel Environmental Group is now one of most well-respected names in the business when it comes to large LED street lighting conversions.
Has it been a smooth road?
There have definitely been many ups and downs along the way. I was 23 years old when I started my company, so needless to say I was pretty ‘green’ in every area. Looking back on it now, I am very thankful to a few mentors who guided me in different areas of the business.
When I began working in recycling, the scrap metal market was at its peak and by year three the market plummeted and I was forced to reevaluate my business model. Cash flow became very tight. It was over the next few years that I learned the most and really fought for my company. Getting through those rough patches truly helped define where my business is now.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Laurel Environmental Group specializes in recycling light fixtures removed from LED street lighting conversions. Most of these conversions are city projects or utility-owned street lighting. This is a rather niche area of recycling and we are considered to be the most experienced. To date, we have recycled upwards of 350,000 street lights across the country.
I am most proud of the projects we have done and knowing that we have done them in the most environmentally responsible way possible. My company has given the industry a better solution for recycling these lights while also offering better solutions for logistics. We often partner with other recycling companies to make the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution available to the contractor.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
San Diego is an awesome place to start any business. I will always remember a specific day in Carlsbad where I really knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur so I could enjoy the awesome lifestyle that San Diego offers. It’s hard to not be inspired living in this beautiful place.
The City of San Diego absolutely embraces woman-owned, minority and small business and they make several opportunities available to these types of business. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work on several city and county jobs over the years.
- Website: www.laurel-environmental.com
- Email: LAUREL@LAUREL-ENVIRONMENTAL.COM
- Other: http://www.pgecurrents.com/2017/09/14/video-pge-partners-with-a-woman-owned-business-to-recycle-street-lights/