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A man on a (social) mission

As CEO of Strotheide Consulting, LLC, Minot State University alumnus Mike Strotheide helps organizations save money. His unique approach doesn't include additional sales, better marketing or fewer employees; it focuses around garbage. Specifically, more efficient disposal of less waste.

Strotheide's journey to waste and recycling cost reduction services has come full circle. As an Air Force brat, Strotheide's formative years were influenced by growing up in 20 states, several countries and attending high school in England. He spent two years in college in Texas, then joined the Army and spent three years in Vietnam. When his father retired and took a civilian job at Minot Air Force Base, Strotheide came along and finished his education at Minot State College.

"I loved my experience at Minot State University," said Strotheide. "I liked the campus, smaller classes, interpersonal relationships and the connection to Minot."

After all those years of traveling, he said MSU felt like a "real home."

"MSU was about quality of life," Strotheide added. "It was very Americana."

After graduating in 1972, Strotheide began a storied career in business development. He worked in economic development in Williston, and later became the vice president of business development in Bismarck. For the next two decades, Strotheide continued the same path in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma and Montana. In 1997, he was listed as one of the "Top 10 Economic Developers in the Southern United States" by Southern Business & Development Magazine.

When he retired, Strotheide knew his work was far from over. He returned to North Dakota from Oregon, a state with a strong tradition of sustainability measures and legislation.

"I wanted to be my own boss but more so use my business experience and do something that was both profitable and socially responsible," Strotheide said.

During his research, Strotheide and his wife, Belinda, discovered Environmental Waste Solutions, a Louisiana-based solid waste consulting business. After completing the training and certification in solid waste and cost reduction, Strotheide struck out to make a difference.

Strotheide Consulting analyzes and audits companies' waste and recycling programs, then creates a savings and implementation plan based on the company's requirements. Once recommendations are approved and executed, Strotheide Consulting is paid a share of the waste management savings.

"We don't charge for our services up front," Strotheide said. "We see our business as a partner in generating savings, which is why we are paid a percent of the savings. Unless we can save our customers 10 percent, our contract is null and void," he added.

Strotheide's long-term goals are to establish a sustainability conference with other organizations. He envisions a trade show that features products that contribute to environmental consciousness and sustainability.

Much of the success of an industry such as his is up to the university students of today, he says.

"I look to the leaders of the next generation to change things," Strotheide said. "They are already doing it. I am very excited about the knowledge base of students."