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Watson Recycling is Minnesota’s Family-Owned Business of the Year

Release Date: 
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Release Number: 
Sarah Swenty,, 612-370-2316

MINNEAPOLIS – Watson Recycling, with locations in Rochester, Oronoco and Austin, was chosen as Minnesota’s Family-Owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Currently eight family members hold leadership roles in the company, and, with the help of SBA guaranteed financing, they recycled 51 million pounds of material that would have otherwise gone to the landfill last year.

Watson Recycling, LLC was founded in 1980 by Rodney Watson, who picked up glass bottles and other materials such as paper, tin, and aluminum from local bars and restaurants, sorting and crushing them. The business utilized 1,000 square feet of warehouse space and employed three to four individuals. In the mid 1990’s, Glen Watson, Rodney’s son, purchased the business and became one of the pioneers of curbside recycling in Olmsted County. 

Gross sales remained in the six figures until 2005. Glen’s sons brought new ideas to the business and increased both profitability and volume. In doing this, space became limited and gross sales reached the multiple million-mark by 2008. In 2011, with determination, knowledge and foresight Watson took a leap, purchasing 12 acres in Oronoco and renovating 25,000-square-feet of warehouse space. The expansion allowed for additional opportunities in recycling vehicles and expanded ferrous and non-ferrous metals. 

In 2015, Watson expanded again, with the purchase of an auto salvage business in Austin allowing for resale parts and additional recyclable materials. This year, Watson will recycle over 55 million pounds of metal, sell thousands of auto parts, own 11 trucks, place over 250 commercial and industrial containers, operate three locations with 37 acres and employ 26 individuals.

Along with the eight family members employed by Watson Recycling, non-family member employees play a large part in the business operations. Many are found through local employment advertising sources and referrals from current employees or businesses Watson works with. High school and college student internships also allow Watson to train and educate individuals interested in the industry for future employment opportunities.

Jeremiah Watson CEO of the company states how honored the company and family are to be recognized by this award. “Our family owes a debt of gratitude to all those who have helped us over the past 35 years including the SBA and its affiliates. Much of our growth likely would not have happened without their assistance. If Rodney were here today he would be enormously proud of what this company has become and we look forward with anticipation and excitement to what it will become 35 years from now. Thank You.”    

Watson Recycling was nominated by the 504 Corporation in Mankato, Minn.


The SBA, along with the SCORE Association and the Minnesota State Small Business Development Center, will honor all the 2017 winners at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards Luncheon on May 4, 2017, at the Marriott Minneapolis Northwest in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Registration is open for the event until April 30 at


For more information on Small Business Week, please visit


The Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. The Minnesota District Office provides SBA programs and services to the state of Minnesota. Working with our resource partners across the state, we help businesses start, grow and achieve success. For more information on our programs and services, visit