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While Temple’s University Services Building (USB) was being torn down in 2009, Assistant Director of the Computer Recycling Center Jonathan Latko was building up a business.
A treasure trove of office supplies rescued from the USB allowed the Computer Recycling Center (CRC) to expand beyond computers – with a little help from senior marketing major Kelly Bowe, who spearheaded the office supply’s marketing initiative.
“The USB was filled with used office supplies, closets and closets of it,” said Latko, MBA ’03. “We couldn’t find enough wooden pallets to load it all on. It took six to seven loads in all. “
Latko rescued hundreds of desk lights, dry erase boards and fans. Now he had to figure out what to do with them. Luckily, Latko has been making recycling a business since 2003. After graduating from Fox’s MBA program, he was hired by Temple to refurbish and resell roomfuls of used computers.
Latko put his Fox MBA to work by sketching a color-coordinated business plan spanning a whole wall. He then created a webpage – and a business – allowing students, faculty and staff to buy computers for $25.
“Since then, our business has taken off,” he said. “In 2009 the EPA’s Region 3 branch gave us an Environmental Achievement Award. Since establishing ourselves in 2003, we’ve averaged 2,000 recycled computers per year. We’ve employed two full-time staff, eight part-time and one intern.”
Latko’s 2009 office supply windfall was a chance for the CRC to begin providing everything students or offices need. But an increasingly busy Latko couldn’t bring this business to life on his own.
Bowe came to the rescue. Her Entrepreneurial Marketing class prepared her to help these supplies meet their market. An internship requirement for her Corporate Social Responsibility minor gave her the incentive to put that knowledge to work.
Bowe shared Latko’s entrepreneurial spirit. She laid out a marketing plan promising to not only give away existing stores of office supplies but to create a long-lasting business salvaging supplies from departments across the university.
Bowe has been interning for the CRC for a month. But her output looks like the product of a year’s work. Slides on Temple’s many plasma TV screens advertise the CRC and office supplies. Twitter, Facebook and the university-wide Temple Today email do too. Bowe even got deans to send email blasts to their colleges.
The buzz Bowe created inspired two volunteers to join her cause. They’re reaching out to departments to get involved in this voluntary project.
Bowe’s departmental outreach is bringing more office supplies to the CRC. Her marketing blast is bringing customers. Latko’s pile of unwanted supplies is following the same path as his 2003 pile of unwanted computers: it’s becoming a business.
“This reach-out is growing from the ground up,” Bowe said. “I’m seeking out champions in each department and watching the buzz I’ve created become self-sustaining.”
CRC invites Temple faculty and staff to shop for free surplus office supplies Wednesdays between 2 and 4 p.m. in TECH Center Room 301. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.