A Family Tradition of Environmental Stewardship Since The 1890s

Watson Recycling is a generational, family-owned business that has specialized in recycling since before environmentalism became mainstream. The deep history of this family began in the 1890s when William Watson accepted an appointment by the father of Charles and William Mayo, the founders of the world-famous Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to sort, discard and recycle materials used by their new hospital. This brought about the beginning of the first true recycling program in the area. And after 100 plus years, the relationship between the Watson family and Mayo Clinic is still going strong.

In the early 1970s, when consumers began to realize they needed a solution for the massive amounts of waste piling up in landfills, Rod Watson, son of William Watson, started a business where he organized a recycling pickup from restaurants and pubs for glass, paper, aluminum, and tin. He set up his new 6000 sq. ft. processing center on North Broadway in Rochester, Minnesota.

Not to be left out, Glen Watson, Rod Watson’s son, took what his father created and expanded on it. Along with picking up recycling from restaurants and pubs, he extended Watson Recycling’s services to pick up from curbside bins around the area and from larger dumpsters of construction waste. As the company continued to grow, the Watson family added a loading and transfer storage area in the southeast part of Rochester.

In 2006, the next generation took over and began yet another expansion. Jeremiah and John Watson, two of Glen Watson’s sons, began recycling ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Six years later, they moved the company to a new location near Highway 52, just north of Rochester, to adjust for the growing needs of their operation. Then, in 2015, they opened two additional recycling facilities in Austin, Minnesota, offering Southeast Minnesota even more options for recycling.

Expansion continues today, with Jeremiah and John Watson opening a state-of-the-art glass recycling business, Infinite Recycled Technologies, in Albert Lea, Minnesota. This facility not only recycles a variety of glass, it also houses a recycled product research and development lab where a team of engineers and recycling specialists will continue to invent more effective and efficient ways to recycle.

Over 100 years and five generations later, the Watson family is a leading example of environmental stewardship in Minnesota.

In 2017, Watson Recycling was chosen as Minnesota’s Family-Owned Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Click here to read the full article.