Born and raised in Freehold, New Jersey, Albert (Al) Boufarah is an experienced entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the electronic recycling industry and multiple years of experience in other fields.
With a trueborn entrepreneurial spirit, Al Boufarah started his journey to become his own boss early on. He founded and owned both a waste management company and tree care and removal company, which serviced the Ocean County area from 1993 to 1998. Throughout his work with both of these ventures, he realized that there were precious metals in used electronics he was required to dispose of and he began taking the computers apart and selling components for gold value. He then began selling recovered memory and hard drives. Through this, he realized the potential of electronic recycling.
In 1998, Al Boufarah founded SAMR, Inc., a single-service company that takes care of clients’ computer and electronics recycling needs. The company started off with only a few employees and quickly grew to the point that a larger warehouse was needed. Al oversees the day to day operations and supervises the warehouse. SAMR, Inc. works with various towns, businesses, and schools to provide electronics recycling and data destruction. The company accepts electronics including computers, televisions, monitors, cell phones, and many other electronics. Through Al’s passion and effective leadership, SAMR, Inc. continues to grow and secure more clients.
Why is it important to recycle electronics?
First of all, there is so much waste. In the U.S., $55 billion worth of e-waste material is thrown out yearly, and only about 12.5% of that is recycled. That is a lot of money that is just being thrown away. A lot of older electronics also contain toxic and harmful materials like lead and mercury. So when you throw those away, you are creating a pollution problem, because those components then go into our groundwater and the air. By recycling your electronics, you can reduce waste and pollution.
What do you love most about the electronic recycling industry?
I would say I love the environmental aspects of the electronic recycling industry the most. I am really happy that SAMR, Inc. is able to help protect the environment. The industry is also exciting because it causes me to stay up to date on the latest technologies to better serve our customers.
How do you become a successful entrepreneur?
While I don’t think there is an actual recipe for success, I think there are traits that you need to possess to give yourself and your company the best chance. I think, first of all, you need passion. Some people think that passion is overrated and I respectfully disagree. Your passion shows that you believe in your idea and you believe in your business, which can sway potential investors and partners. You also need to be intuitive in the sense that you realize there is a problem and your company is the solution, and then you need to come up with creative ways to solve that problem. For me, my ventures ultimately evolved and I learned what the problem was through those ventures, which led me to create SAMR, Inc.
How do you become an effective leader?
You can’t take everything so seriously. You want to be an approachable leader that employees trust and feel that they can communicate openly. In this way, you are fostering a culture of trust, where everyone feels comfortable enough to share their own ideas to contribute to the business and improve its processes overall. By doing this, not only will you reduce employee turnover and improve morale, but you are improving on your business model as well, leading to more success and growth.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your experience as an entrepreneur?
I’ve learned to listen to what everyone has to say. Listen to the market, listen to your clients, and listen to your employees. By learning to listen, you can come up with better ideas and you will learn what the potential shortcomings of your business are and can improve.
How does an entrepreneur maintain a positive work-life balance?
It is so difficult to achieve a healthy work-life balance as an entrepreneur, especially at the beginning. But over time, you learn not to bring too much work home with you. You want to be reachable, but also understand that you need to recharge. Maybe choose one or two hours a day that you shut your phone off to give yourself that break. Use that time to spend time with your family, exercise, or do anything else that helps you relax and clear your head.
What advice do you have for hopeful entrepreneurs?
Learn to overcome all obstacles. You are going to be faced with a lot of challenges, some that are entirely outside of your control. We are seeing one big challenge right now with the COVID-19 crisis that will continue to present issues for the foreseeable future. It is going to be really easy for a lot of people to just decide to throw in the towel. But being able to overcome challenges is very important to ensure the success of your business.
What are your hopes for the future of your business?
We want to expand our facilities and continue to build and foster relationships with local businesses and find new and improved ways to help our clients. My hope is that SAMR, Inc. will eventually be able to increase e-waste recycling at least 50% by 2030 by expanding to other states.
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