Comerica Corner: Avangard Innovative
By: Kaitlyn Luckow
Reusing materials is a practice that not only helps the environment, but can help save companies money every year. However, companies usually overlook their own waste and consider it useless. Little do they know, it can be extremely profitable.
Ricky Perez is the CEO of Avangard Innovative, a company dedicated to helping companies find the green in their waste. Perez himself was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States when he was just eight. After completing his education, Perez started his own company when he was just 22-years-old.
Perez noticed in his previous work that no recycling was being done, specifically in the bottle businesses. All the bottles ended up in landfills. “All the bottle owners wanted to figure out if there was a solution, if there was a better way,” Perez said.
Perez wanted to find that better way and so Avangard was born with the use of a phone and a fax in Perez’ parent’s house in Texas. Although initially starting in Mexico exporting Coke, Pepsi, and water bottles, Avangard has now been in existence for thirty years, is in 13 different countries, and employs over 650 people. Instead of just focusing on bottles, Avangard handles every kind of sustainable development program. The focus of Avangard is to lower waste costs and to increase recyclables for companies. Avangard helps companies recognize that their waste can become assets. This can not only have a positive impact on a company’s spending, but on the environment as well.
“Whatever the industry, wherever there’s waste generated in packaging, which is pretty much everywhere, this is where we can go in and make a huge impact environmentally, socially, and economically,” Perez said.
Perez and Avangard are focused on reusing resources to create a circular economy and are doing just that in 13 countries around the world. The road of being an entrepreneur for Perez was one filled with a plan, support, and a team. “I would tell you it’s extremely difficult. But the beauty of this journey has been the people,” Perez said.
● Avangard Innovative created the 3E foundation which helps companies replace current ITAD programs and helps provide opportunities for low-income communities.
● About ⅓ of every dump in America is made up of packaging materials (Source: University Of Southern Indiana)
A source of support for Perez throughout the development of Avangard has been Comerica Bank. Perez said that there are two keys to success: talent and cash. Comerica has helped him with both. “[Comerica Bank] truly has been a blessing. You can’t grow without that kind of partnership and Comerica has been essential to me,” Perez said.
As far as talent goes, Perez believes that people shouldn’t just be good at a lot of things, especially when it comes to Latino talent growth. “Most people want to be mediocre at everything rather than an expert in something,” Perez said. He believes that through focused education, Latino talent can continue to grow throughout all corporations, including his own.
Along with these ingredients, Perez also talked about the importance of having a solidified work culture within a company. For Avangard, this culture can be summarized by FRESH: Find a way; Relationships; Embrace change; Shoot ‘em straight; Have fun.
“In our company you have to hold those values and you have to have a culture,” Perez said. “If you don’t have that culture, you can’t scale. You can plan a business, but if you can’t create a culture, you don’t have an identity within the market, within your employees, or with your customers.”
In the future, Perez hopes to continue to grow Avangard, as he believes that success is not determined by money, but rather by achieving the goals you set for yourself.