With the leadership of sophomore Brennon Mobley, Spring Back recycling has evolved from a small upstart Enactus project into a multi-state operation with a sustainable business model.
“From day one, I was involved with Spring Back, and when I started out, it was in the business planning/development stage, and the operational part began in the spring of 2011,” Mobley said. “I was a senior in high school, and then when I really started to get involved was the summer before I came to Belmont.”
Spring Back processes and recycles used mattresses that would otherwise take decades to decompose in a landfill.
His journey with Enactus, formerly Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), began during his senior year at Brentwood Academy, when neighbor and Enactus sponsor Dr. John Gonas led to Mobley become interested in Belmont’s College of Business, the entrepreneurship program and ultimately Enactus.
After entering Enactus, Mobley became involved with the Spring Back project. Partnered with the local Isaiah 58 ministry which helps formerly incarcerated men readjust to society and find sustainable employment.
The list of work Mobley has done to help facilitate the growth of Spring Back is seemingly endless.
This summer, he collaborated with Eric Taft to create a 200-plus page operations manual for the business. He also located the warehouse and helped in purchasing some of the capital equipment along with making sure the men of Isaiah 58 were appropriately trained in mattress disassembly.
Since then, Mobley has earned the position of project lead, which Gonas says is “pretty ambitious for a sophomore.”
“I appreciate his work ethic, his humility, his faith, and just his selflessness,” Gonas said. “Brennon represents a student who took the bull by the horns and made it happen. You’ve gotta initiate, you’ve gotta take advantage of your opportunities here at Belmont, and I hope and pray that other students can do the same and use his example as motivation.”
Mobley also traveled with Gonas to land bids from the Navy and to open Spring Back’s first licensee, Spring Back Colorado, which opened this summer.
“There was a lot of prep work involved,” Mobley said. “We weren’t necessarily ready to expand, we were preparing for it, and the right partner came along, which enabled for us to take that step and branch out to Denver.”
Mobley and Gonas are both quick to point out the importance of partnering with Isaiah 58, which offered a small part of their storage space from their landscape business and committed a couple of men to Spring Back.
“It’s difficult for a non-profit with a limited budget to donate resources, and donate labor, and donate capital to something like this. They came to the table, saw the long-term possibility, and so they walked with us,” Gonas said.
“It’s been a great partnership, they already had an existing business, which means they had a workforce that was ready, but the nature of their business, which was landscaping, has a considerable down time every winter,” Mobley said. “So they were looking for a more consistent source of employment, and they liked the idea just because they could employ men year round.”
The next goal for Spring Back is to refine the local model before exploring more licensee options and securing national contracts. With those contracts, Spring Back will be able to provide future licensees with consistent inventory.
“We want the model that’s here locally to be as good as possible. We’re going to refine our operations manual, still more, and add some components to it, especially with regard in what to do with metal. We might look into shredding it and compressing it. It’s always going to be a work that’s in process,” Gonas said.