Greg Merrill received his Masters in Business Administration from the Carey Business School in 2008. With a passion for sustainability and innovative technology Greg has spent the last 7 years launching and growing new companies and technologies related to environmental sustainability. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Business Development for Austin Rubber Company LLC and is responsible for business and product development. He has also worked with Austin Rubber’s parent company, Green Source Holdings since 2008 developing and overseeing their rubber recycling business.
Greg’s latest venture is Austin Footwear Labs (AFL), a sustainable footwear company that keeps tires out of landfills by making shoes. AFL’s first product, a sandal, launched on July 15 in Austin, TX. To find out more about AFL and their products visit the website at austinfootwear.com.
How has your education at JHU Carey Business School prepared you for your past and current ventures?
Since graduating, I have been in entrepreneur-mode with the various businesses I launched and partnered with. The common theme and critical success factor among them all has been the team. I attended Carey from 2006 – 2008 and the class format was a cohort. Going through the challenging classes as a team helped strengthen our bond as classmates. Working in that team environment helped me to learn about myself and the way I work with others. Whether you are in a small team at a start-up or at a larger organization, you will find yourself in a team setting at some point. It’s important that you play well with others to grow yourself and the organization.
Why do you feel your work in green technology is important?
The “greening” of Earth is inevitable if we are to survive as a human race. Mother Nature needs our help. The business world has already accepted this shift as reality and significant changes are underway. It is important that we all do our part, and by working together, we will have the greatest impact. My approach has been to focus on developing innovative methods that convert existing industries and manufacturing practices. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I am making a wheel that is lighter weight, cheaper to make and will never wear down (so to speak). I may not have the perfect solution yet, but I believe that the technologies I can offer now will serve as a bridge to a more sustainable (and economic) way of doing business. My vision is to “do things better”.
What advice would you give a current Carey student to succeed in environmentally-friendly projects?
Don’t do it for the money. The financial rewards may be slow to come, if at all. That does not mean you should walk away at first falter. Statistically, many start-ups and small businesses fail in the first three years. You must be passionate about the “green” projects you are spending your time on. You may not move mountains at first, but your contribution matters.
What is a habit you would encourage new graduates to pick up that will help them in their new careers?
Network. Make friends and meet new people everywhere you go. New opportunities will pop up throughout your life and it’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.
What has been the single most important lesson you have learned in your professional career?
Plan every day. Your plate will fill up quickly and you will forget important tasks. I start every day with my “Task List” spreadsheet that lists each of my businesses, along with a column for Personal items. The top 5 items are high priority that need to be touched every day until completed. This is an easy way to stay on track and direct efforts towards completing short and long term goals.