The Doers: Phoenix Recycling

First Southwest Bank • January 3, 2019

When Phoenix Recycling entrepreneur, Mark Thompson realized that Durango's growth would need to be sustainable, he aimed to launch a mission driven business providing world class recycling and hometown service.

What started out as a pick up truck operation with a few plastic bins and a leased piece of property, now has expanded to include over 25 employees providing recycling services all over La Plata County — a change-making leader in the county’s efforts to be more sustainable.

First Southwest Bank is proud to serve Phoenix Recycling business innovation so we wanted to share a quick interview with Mark, highlighting the Phoenix Recycling mission and Mark’s advice for other Durango entrepreneurs:


Tell us a little bit about your business. Why do you do what you do?

Phoenix provides residential recycling and trash service, mobile document shredding and recycling, and construction waste removal and recycling. We operate the only single-stream sorting facility in Southwest Colorado and were the first in the State of Colorado to sort and recycle mixed construction waste — we continue to push the limits of service and recycling by bringing big city services to your hometown.

We love helping people do the right thing. And we pride ourselves on service and environmental stewardship, making the right decision the easy decision.

What has been your favorite part of being a local entrepreneur?

I wanted to relocate to Colorado and I figured I would end up in Boulder, given its reputation for progressive recycling efforts. But when I went to visit, it didn't feel like I thought it would. I got out of town to the nearest trailhead and there were more cars in the parking lot than a DHS football game.

My search continued and, like so many people in Durango, I knew I had found my niche when I stopped here. Main Avenue is a vibrant hub of activity and a 20 minute drive provides a solitary walk in the wilderness. The people are friendly, the business community is active, and any community where people can't keep track of the number of nonprofits, is a place where there is a lot of good will.

What impact do you think your business has on the local community and region?

If county residents have easy access to weekly trash disposal but recycling has to be loaded into the car and hauled into town, most recyclables are going to head to the landfill because it is easier. Phoenix provides weekly trash and recycling collection so recycling is as easy as putting it in the proper cart and letting us take care of the rest.

After collection, the materials head back to our newly completed $2.5 million recycling facility where they are sorted, cleaned, baled, and shipped to manufacturers all over the world who need these raw materials. As the materials flow out, revenue flows back into our community and supports a local payroll of 25 full and part time employees. When the same material is land filled, money flows out of our community to distant corporate shareholders while the liability, the buried waste, remains here. Recycling is not only good for the environment, it is financial engine that actively turns a liability, our waste, into an asset that creates sustainable, reliable jobs.

What specific business resources have helped to make your business successful? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs need to have a good lawyer, a good accountant, a good advisor, and a good banker. The recycling industry is capital intensive and bank financing is critical.

Our growth and our ability to expand our services is directly tied to our ability to obtain financing. I have worked with several banks but never one as personal and intentional as First Southwest Bank. In our last round of financing, our assigned banker and FSWB quite literally put their money where their mouth was and financed a large business expansion. This created long-term jobs and started the financial engine that has helped us turn our waste into a source of revenue for our community.

For more on Phoenix Recycling, visit them at or call 970-375-1300.