Brandi Harleaux, ISRI member and second-generation owner of South Post Oak Recycling Center in Houston, Texas, was recognized and awarded as the Texas Small Businessperson of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In May, the award was presented to Brandi by SBA Administrator Guzman in Washington, D.C. and was preceded by a visit to the White House Rose Garden for a Ceremony and Presidential Address from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamla Harris followed by a Meet and Greet.

“It is a tremendous honor to be named as the SBA Texas Business Person of the Year,” said Brandi. “We are honored to receive this award, and hope the recognition shines a greater light on all the positive contributions of the recycled materials industry to the country and world around us.”

Brandi began young in carrying on the family’s legacy in the recycled materials industry. Founded by her father, Freddie Robinson, who was a buyer for an aluminum foil manufacturer, and her mother Angela Robinson, South Post Oak was founded in 1994. When she was growing up, she helped her parents by cleaning up the shop and upgrading material such as air conditioning coils. Brandi’s father served the community for 20 years at South Post Oak before Brandi stepped in to take on the role of continuing to grow the business.

“My parents taught me the power of hard work, the meaning of sacrifice, and the importance of taking care of your people,” said Brandi. “It was important to them, and it is important to me, to continue hiring and investing in people that other organizations might turn away.”

An active ISRI leader, Brandi serves on the Board of Directors, is Chair of the Environmental Justice Working Group, Co-Chair of the Workforce Development Committee, Secretary/Treasurer of ISRI’s Gulf Coast Region, and a founding leader of Women in Recycling (WIR). She is a 2020 or first/inaugural recipient of the ISRI Young Executive of the Year Award. She earned a master’s degree in business from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business. With more than 25 years’ entrepreneurial experience, she is a speaker on topics such as resilience, engaged leadership, recycling & ESG integration strategies, empowerment of women and atypical entrepreneurial journeys.

Brandi and South Post Oak Recycling Center were nominated for the award by her SBDC (Small Business Development Center) business advisor LeeVera Smith. After being selected as the local Houston District winner, Brandi then moved to the regional SBA offices pool of candidates in Dallas, El Paso, Rio Grande, West Texas and San Antonio, before being selected as the State of Texas winner.

“One of the great benefits of this recognition is the ability to share the positive, real stories of the recycled materials industry’s impact on the environment, the communities we are in and the how recycled materials are a critical part of our supply chains and our everyday lives,” said Brandi. “Recycling is essential to preserving our natural resources, sustainability efforts, and has a significant social impact.”

Brandi attributes her companies more than 20-year membership in ISRI with keeping South Post Oak up to date with the latest advancements and solid industry practices. “There are so many benefits to ISRI membership that help set recycling facilities up for success. I would encourage anyone in our industry to join and become involved for the opportunity to attend and get involved in chapter, regional and national programs which foster global networking.”