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Anthony Leteri

Anthony LeteriAnthony Leteri
Leteri Waste Management

www.usaenvironmental.com

According to Board Member Tony Leteri of U.S.A. Environmental Resource Management, the best way to build your business is to “make your face familiar” by getting active in organizations like the Hauppauge Industrial Assciation. It’s a system that has worked for him and a plan that he has put into practice ever since he started his recycling business in Kings Park over 13 years ago. A graduate of City College with a degree in Business Administration, Leteri knew there has to be more to the business than just picking up commercial garbage and taking it to the dump. “I thought, ‘there has to be a way to re-use some of it, help the environment and still make a living,” he said. Active in a variety of business groups from the very beginning, he took his idea about developing a recycling center to LI Regional Planner Lee Koppleman who encouraged the upstart. “It just seemed that so much of what we were picking up could be put to another use,” Leteri said. “We thought we could recycle about 15 to 20 percent and it turns out we’re now taking almost 59 percent out of the waste stream.” His company collects from educational, industrial and commercial sites as well as from construction projects. He credits changes in technology which now permit paper products to be accepted without sub-sorting into various grades for giving a boost to the recycling effort. After college and opening a business, Leteri went to study waste management at SUNY Stony Brook and is now considered one of LI’s recycling experts. But it’s not all business for this father of six. His family is clearly the true center of his life. Having been an only child himself, whose father died when he was six months old, the hectic schedule provided by six kids with diverse interests is quite a change for him. He said that many times tickets to business affairs or shows have gone unused because some event or activity for one of the kids pops up to take precedent – things like a wrestling competition where his youngest son took a third place prize or a dance production or choral recital. His wife Anna is the real keeper of the timetable, Leteri admits. Even with his three oldest, ranging in age from 19-21 pretty much on there own, these parents; schedules revolve around what the kids have to do. “They’re our hobbies,” he said. “Other than keeping up with them we lead pretty boring lives. I go to work just to clear my head,” he kidded. Leteri remembers when USA Recycling first became part of the HIA. There were two classifications for membership: General Members and Associate Members. Since his business was not located within the industrial park he was an associate member and at that time could not serve on the board of directors. Fellow member Jack Kulka recognized that he was a leader in the waste management industry and actively moved to change the rules. The distinction in membership disappeared and Leteri was elected to the board, where he has served ever since. “It was time,” Leteri said. “And we have had some excellent board members and presidents who would not have been able to hold those posts if they hadn’t changed the rules.” “If I can give one piece of advice to every entrepreneur it is this,” Leteri said. “The only way to find out how things work is to join and get active.” Join. Get involved. Network. “Make your face familiar,” he explained. “That’s how you do business.” Leteri not only works hard to make the HIA a success, he is a member of the board of the Smithtown YMCA, and a life director of both the LI Builder’s Institute and the Association for Commerce, Industry and Technology. “Imagine that – Life Director,” he mused. “When I first started I used to think how old these guys were and now I’m one of them.”