George Valiotis, E’09, CEO, Pace Glass Inc., is a problem-solver. When he saw a problem in the glass recycling industry, he decided to create the largest glass recycling facility in the world to solve it.
As a civil and environmental engineer, solutions come easily for George Valiotis, E’09. For years as a real-estate professional, George was exposed to the lack of options for recycling glass. Most recycling facilities in US use single-stream, where metals or plastics are processed in one bin. Since glass breaks easily, many facilities reject it, causing most glass to be wasted in landfills. George’s solution: Pace Glass Inc., the world largest exclusively glass recycling facility. The company takes what it can use, and incinerates the rest to produce energy that powers their facility.
Tell us how your Northeastern education has impacted you professionally?
At Northeastern, I learned to adjust to a fast-paced, real-world business environment. Most of my courses had accompanying laboratory programs, and an immense workload paired with grueling deadlines – something I live with every day as a business owner. I also learned presentation skills, and social skills that have helped me network with engineering and design trades in the professional world.
Have you experienced the global Northeastern network?
When attending industry events overseas, I have often come across Northeastern alumni who have helped me in my career, or to navigate a crowded party! I’m always happy to find fellow Northeastern alumni lend a helping hand, no matter where we meet around the globe.
How do you stay ahead of the curve?
I rely on industry news, research, and industry-specific professional publications to stay on top of my field. It is critical to know the inside scoop on the latest technological break-through. Learning about your peers, and staying informed on innovation are critical keys to success. Learning from some of the top leaders in any industry also allows you to become a better professional.
One piece of advice for someone at Northeastern?
Take co-op opportunities at various industries within your field of education to diversify your overall experience upon graduation. The co-op opportunities at Northeastern lead to employment, and give students a better idea on what to focus on as a career.
What’s next for you?
Remaining a dominant force in both real estate and recycling. Pace is looking to grow in states like California, Seattle, North Carolina, and Chicago, with a 10-year goal of expanding glass recycling for all glass waste throughout the US. We are also in talks with the local government to distribute and deliver excess energy from incinerating glass to support our neighboring communities, since the energy produced through glass incineration is more efficient than natural gas. In real estate, I hope to see a more favorable environment for buying and selling commercial assets in the US and overseas. I believe the recently-approved Opportunity Zone Fund will facilitate real estate investment in impoverished and underutilized areas throughout the US. In addition, I intend to focus on cities like Paterson, NJ and try to be a positive force in all the communities that I am invested in.
published October 2018