Promoting ITAD Best Practices with Compliance Standards’ David Daoud

June 15, 2023

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David Daoud is the President and Principal Analyst at Compliance Standards LLC, overseeing research on the supply and demand sides in the ITAD sector. David has researched the mainstream IT hardware market since 1996 and expanded into hardware disposition research in 2003. He has spearheaded the creation of IDC’s GRADE certification.

John Shegerian: Listen to the Impact Podcast on all your favorite podcast platforms including Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, Audible Spotify Stitcher, and of course, at This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider, and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, livestreams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. I’m so excited to have with you today, David Daoud. He’s the President and Principal Analyst at Compliance Standards, LLC. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, David.

David Daoud: Thank you, John. Thank you for having me. Much appreciated.

John: Of course. And before we get talking about all the important stuff you’re doing at Compliance Standards, David, can you share a little bit about your background? Where you grew up? And how you even got this career trajectory that you’re on right now?

David: Yes, thank you, John. This is going to take probably three hours. No, I’m just kidding.

John: That’s okay.

David: I’m an immigrant. I moved to the US in 1990 from Algeria, which many people tell me, “Oh, Nigeria?” No, no, it’s Algeria, which is North Africa. Lesser-known country than Nigeria, obviously. When I moved, I’ve already spent some time working in the oil industry, as an oil economics, a person who handles issues of optimizing performance in, for example, the distribution sector for gasoline and things like that. So, I spent probably about a year after I graduated from the University with a degree in the oil economic sector. I moved to Boston. Back then, my goal was sort of the goal of every young person is to get an MBA from Harvard University. It never happened. I didn’t have the language. I couldn’t speak English at that point. I didn’t have the money to cover the cost of an MBA in such a prestigious university. So, I settled with the Masters in international economics at Suffolk University. A lesser-known university, but still very much central in Boston. So, it was fun. While I was doing there, I had the opportunity to teach a couple of courses, starting with computer science, and then eventually, I did English as a second language. It taught me to connect with various cultures in and around the city of Boston. It was fun. I applied to various jobs. I had a job with Harvard University as a data analyst. Currently, at that point, I was pretty good with statistics, and they needed a person to crunch numbers to focus on the healthcare sector. So, my focus was on the impact of various medical programs and healthcare programs on mortality of all things.

And so, I spent about three years with Harvard, and then I wanted to get into the private sector. I applied for a company called Computer World, which is still a publication that caters to IT folks. My job there was to do primary research. We had a base of about 200,000 IT managers, and my job as an analyst was to essentially extract additional information that eventually, folks in the editorial world would reuse to sort of form their opinion. There was also a research service that we offer to our readers. So, if you are an IT manager, you read computer world, and you want to have an understanding above and beyond sort of the editorial, then that’s the kind of research that I was doing. Computer World is owned by IDG, which is the parent company in the national data group. It was fairly easy to move from a place that is focused on information, that is a media outlet to an advisory company called IDC, which is also owned by International Data Corporation, or IDG, International Data Group. The company has changed its name since the passing of its owner. From Computer World, to IDC, starting as an analyst, to research manager, to research director, and then to 2014, where I thought, it’s time to start again, fresh. And so, hence the creation of Compliance Standards in 2014. How did I get into the end-of-life [inaudible] position? Pure coincidence, really. In 2003, there was a company that needed an analyst opinion or projections on what the device market is going to look like in the future.

So, my boss, then, was contacted by E-scrap folks that organized the conference. He couldn’t make it, so the next person to send was me. I did provide a presentation to the E-scrap folks back in 2003, and I found that fascinating. My coverage prior to that was the brand-new equipment market, whether it’s laptops, tablets, desktops, [inaudible], etc. So, that was the vision that I had, the view that I have. That conference essentially gave me a different perspective on the IT world, on the end-of-life part. It was fun. It was fascinating. And by the way, the steel sector, that is not properly covered by the analyst world. And so, I find myself as the only person on the analyst world feeling excited about it. I thought, “Okay, we probably could make a career out of it.” And so, that’s what I’ve been doing since 2014, essentially, but that’s how I got into this very interesting sector.

John: I’m on your website now, and it’s called For our listeners and viewers, to find David and all his important work that he’s doing, you could go to So, what was your real vision? When you were starting this, why did you come up with Compliance Standards? And what does that mean for the industry as a whole?

David: Well, I’m going to say a few things that perhaps folks in the industry may not like, but in terms of the perception of the end-of-life in general, by many folks, especially the ones that are responsible for paying the bill, that is the end user corporations in general, it’s an unknown entity, this end-of-life. It’s not really something that they go to school to learn, or they take extra courses to learn. It’s much more complex than your typical help desk in an IT department. And yet, it’s not getting enough attention for a number of reasons. At least I can cite a few of them, but one of them is it’s perceived as a cost center. Folks in IT industry, in IT departments, in the corporate setting, they look at it, and they say, “Well, we’re going to spend money. If we don’t spend money, we’re going to spend resources. We’re going to have people doing X, Y, Z, and that’s a cost center for us.” As a result, the second element is it’s poorly managed, poorly done, poorly understood. Back in the beginning of my research cycle on ITAD, we were able to determine that there were at least seven stakeholders that need to be part of the decision-making in ITAD.

Not necessarily be doing the day-to-day tasks, but at least you have the compliance guys, you have finance guy, you have the facility guy. We have a number of people, generally seven of them, that should up to be giving directions and standards on how to deal with end-of-life. And fortunately, we don’t see that rarely. I’m sure there’s some companies, we know some companies do that. But the vast majority of companies rely on the IT department to do everything. And quite often, IT departments that we know, it’s very difficult to ask the help desk person or the guy who handles desktop deployment and maintenance, to also understand the compliance aspects of end-of-life. The term that I use in general to define where ITAD sits in the general IT world, I call it an orphaned area or an orphan sector. Again, it’s not a blanket judgement on everyone in the corporate world. But look, I mean, we see all these news coming from, for example, the retailers.

The retailers have been notorious about the way they handle their end-of-life. So, to me, what I saw, John, is basically the big analyst firms starting something and then retracting and then moving away. IDC used to have grade[?]. I used to spearhead that. They no longer have that. Gartner used to have, I think, the magic quadrant. I don’t think they have it anymore. The people within these organizations that cover end-of-life generally, again, end-of-life is sort of the secondary thing. They have something else: leasing, financing, general IT management that end-of-life tends to be the afterthought. And to me, I thought, look, there is a vibrant market. There is a vibrant group of companies that are doing cool things. How do we get to a point where we get them interested in understanding their market, understanding data, understanding user behavior? And that’s where I would like to be thinking that this is what we are focusing on within Compliance Standards.

John: If you just joined us, if you’re a listener, viewers just join us, we’ve got David Daoud with us today. He’s the President and Principal Analyst at Compliance Standards. To find David and his important great work, go to So, you talked about how this used to be characterized or seen, David, as a cost center. Explained to me and to our audience the evolution from the 1990s and early 2000s of the misperceptions of this sector, of this reuse sector of the old electronics to 2023, and how it should be perceived today. And the great opportunities that lay in this business, and why your work is so important to help further rationalize this industry, which has been so diverse and dispersed over the years.

David: Yes, John, absolutely. Look, I’m going to start with the post-2000 era. Prior to that, of course, we had IT as a disposition by virtue of having companies involved in leasing and financing, the IBM’s of the world by [inaudible] companies like HP and Dell, essentially engaging in leasing, for example. But let’s start with post-2000 era. The biggest driver that led to the ITAD being an interesting sector or topic is really if you remember this green IT discussion. What happened is we went from a barrel of oil at certain low price to doubling, tripling over time. And that created a debate within the corporate world on how can we green our business, how can we reduce our environmental footprint. And so, every sector within the corporate world began to look at ways to optimize and minimize energy consumption, optimize utilization, and end-of-life became one of that. Again, a one small section of a bigger thing. At that point, what sort of other things people were talking about? Well, companies that produce OEMs, that produce products. They were looking at ways to optimize product design in terms of energy consumption, etc. And so, 2003, 2004, you had a lot of interest in how to green things, and you see a number of companies, the big ones, the intel’s of the world, talking about it, tales the world talking about it. You see an influx of capital into the ITAD sector. People are interested because all of a sudden recycling becomes part of the solution.

And so, you see that coming. You see the money moving in. You see smaller companies getting slightly bigger. You see the antique cars of the world back in the old days. You begin to see some traction. And then that probably lasted about 4 or 5 years. And then 2008 comes, what you have? You have sort of a downturn, the financial downturn, the economic crisis that we had back then. It had a really bad impact on pretty much the entire green IT story. And obviously, the end-of-life also felt the brunt of that economic downturn. But what happened is, people started or companies started to really scaled back their projects, including end-of-life. The smaller companies and the medium-sized companies that were in the ITAD headspace begin to feel the financial pressure. And what you have after that around 2010, you have a really, very aggressive companies such as Arrow, that found it very interesting to buy or to acquire entities that were in that space in an effort to consolidate. The idea then was to essentially create a closed loop lifecycle.

So, you’re involved in selling assets, brand new assets. You’re involved in selling branded computers. And then you can handle also the end-of-life. And so, it creates an interesting loop. The problem is, it was done, most of these acquisitions, the execution part of that was not the best. It was very challenging for the companies that were involved. And what you see is basically another round of downturn with Arrow leaving the sector, and that’s where we are today. So, where are we today? Well, the opportunities, as you pointed out, are there. I mean, we’re talking about billion, maybe 69 billion new assets getting into the market every year, worldwide. These are enormous numbers, John, and we still haven’t really figured out a hundred percent how the second part of it is going to happen and is going to work. Perhaps, maybe I’m naive, maybe each industry, each sector doesn’t have a set situation that evolves over time, that nothing is stable. Perhaps that’s where we are. But clearly, there are enormous opportunities.

The problem these opportunities that are facing today are the big geopolitical problems. The Russian war in Ukraine, the stance of the Chinese in terms of opening up their market or making simplifying the imports, for example. Inflation is creating a lot of headaches. And obviously, folks that are in the logistics know it. People that use logistics are aware of it. People at the companies that have operations with brick and mortar operations with people, they feel, certainly, the inflation, and so that creates costs, and it creates uncertainty. In the meanwhile, we really haven’t changed our stance vis-à-vis the customer. The customer today, especially the large enterprise – by the way, the biggest source of profitability in the ITAD centers around specific vertical markets. We know retail is not one of them. We know how they’re doing. But clearly, companies involved in doing business with the financial sector…

John: Healthcare.

David: …with the healthcare sector, typically, financial sector, they like to turn around their products every three years, so they’re looking for the latest technology. They have the money for it. They’re willing to spend the money, reluctantly, but they have to do it. The healthcare sector, likewise, they need the best imaging technology and etc. So, these definitely are the best in terms of profitability source. I always tell my clients, “Whatever go-to-market you have, it has to be a vertical play.” You cannot talk, you cannot have one sales guy that knows very well the retail market, who’s going to be selling to an investment [inaudible]. You have to be able to talk and speak the same language. And so, these opportunities are there. The problem is many of these customers themselves are facing a global geopolitical problem, and they’re always looking for ways to minimize cost, maximize return, etc. But the opportunity is there. All the people that are watching this are aware that the amount of devices and electronics hitting the market every year is mind-boggling. And certainly, it’s not just your laptop. I mean, we’re moving away from your classic mass-market PC to smaller devices, a huge amount of smaller devices, smaller amount of big enterprise devices, to do enterprise systems. But the market is there, and that’s something that the industry will have to figure out how to approach that sector going forward.

John: David, let’s talk about a couple of things that have happened in recent years. One, the pandemic. I agree with you that the ITAD market is massive and bigger opportunity than ever before. In your eyes, how did the pandemic affect the ITAD market, going in, coming out? Where were we, and what did the pandemic actually do to disrupt or accelerate the ITAD marketplace?

David: It’s probably the same effect, John, as the brand-new equipment market. Probably, the same. What I mean by that is, it’s been going through a rubberband effect. The pandemic is here. People are slowing down, trying to figure out what’s going on. The government is spending money on stimulus. People are buying, and more people are working from home. People are buying. Again, this is not the enterprise-class, this is mostly the mass consumer market. So, if you look at the data on the brand-new equipment market, the shipments are your up-and-down thing. Like the yo-yo thing, it goes up and down.

During the pandemic, there was obviously a pick-up due to people working from home. And the last set of data that I saw from the likes of IDC and Gartner, the numbers, really, it looks pretty bad. But again, it’s a reaction from a very strong demand in the previous cycle [inaudible]. I think, the ITAD sort of mimics a little bit that image, where you have demand up and down. But again, to me, really, if you go beyond the units, beyond the numbers, and you go to the profitability, it’s really the banks, the hospitals. Hospitals have been incredibly busy. They’ve had so much money to spend because obviously, they were at the forefront of the crisis. The financial sector, there’s been an enormous amount of work trying to move to the cloud, getting their employees work from home, getting their customers no longer come to the office. There have been a lot of investments in new devices in those sectors, and I think that’s pretty good. Now, what’s happening elsewhere? Well, you look at the retailers, for example. They had to close. A lot of them, actually, went out of business.

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And so, that means, if you are in the business of dealing with point of sale[?] terminals, and devices like that, then, yes, you get into problems. As my earlier statement, John, that if you get to look at the sector, in my humble opinion, then you have to look at it from the perspective of a vertical market. That’s where you try to drill down deeper and deeper into your existing markets or create new market opportunities by looking at where the opportunity comes from. That way you would compensate or offset for any loss that you would experience, should that other sector feel really bad. So, to me, that’s what it is. But again, one less thing, John, a lot of the business that’s feeding the ITAD industry is not necessarily just the IT management, manager that’s doing business with them. It is the commodity market for all sorts of products. There’s a lot of things that certainly plays into online of a very good active ITAD company. And that’s very difficult to analyze at once. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff happening with China, for example, looking for changing its attitude on how things are happening, etc. So, that’s my… [crosstalk]

John: Well, let’s talk about a couple of those external forces. You bring up a great point. When I met you 15 or 16 years ago, David, ESG, the shift from linear[?] to circular economy, and sustainability, we’re in yet huge parts of our media, lexicon, our day-to-day cultural, vernacular. Now, they’re very common. Now, there seems that these are unstoppable and undeniable trends. How does that positively affect the ITAD industry as we know it today in 2023, now that these trends in America, in United States, seem to really have taken hold?

David: Yeah, so maybe I’m going to sound a little contrarian, John. I do apologize in advance for people who may not have the same [inaudible].

John: That’s okay.

David: But as the analysis working previously for IDC and for Computer World, it seems to me that they were discussions for a long, long time about the circular economy. It had different terms, different terminology, [inaudible]. I think they used to call it a closed loop lifecycle. How do you achieve that in the current environment? That involves so many suppliers that are very careful about not sharing what’s under the hood, if you will. How do you get there? And to me, it’s an absolutely noble goal. Absolutely noble goal. But it’s a goal that will require more than statements such as circular economy. Companies need to get together and agree on what it means. For example, if we are on a survey today, John, and we’re going to do that, soon, on the consumer side, how do consumers recycle their devices? I think you get to find a really interesting data that suggests that the circular economy is still a long way to go. It’s still a long way to go. The retailers have to be on board. The distributors have to be on board. The people that are in our industry, the ITAD guys, they need to be on board. The regulators have to be on board. It has to be a market above and beyond the US, with global trade agreements that cement those markets. I think it’s absolutely great to push for things like closed loop lifecycle and circular economy, but it has to have meat around the bone to make it happen, and I’m not convinced yet, John. And I do apologize again; I’m not convinced that we’re there yet. It’s a noble approach, but it’ll be a long work in progress.

John: David, I’m on your website, again, for our listeners or viewers, A couple things, what do you do…? You have an annual scorecard. Talk a little bit about your annual scorecard, and why is that so important to the ITAD industry, and for all the industry, like you say, the vertical industries that need guidance on how to pick rate vendors and ITAD companies. Explain why your standards are so important, and your annual report is so important.

David: Yes, John. So, this is something we’ve been doing for us. What I mean by for us is the typical engagement that we get from end user companies is really in which company should we use? I mean, there’s a number of good companies out there, and there’s a lot more number of bad companies out there. And so, their question is, who should we use? Questions that come from the corporate world vary from very simple things to extremely complicated things. Complicated things would be sort of an enterprise wide deployment of ITAD services. Seemingly simple thing would be, we have a number of assets and various bank branches. What is the best way to deal with that? Should we ask the ITAD company to go pick them up in each branch? Or should we consolidate them into one depot, and then have them come? A little thing that basically, there’s no one solution fits all. So, what we’ve been doing is we’ve been going from company to company, and typically, the surveys have between 180 to 250 respondents. Those are large companies. They’re not really small companies. They’re companies that have large deployments, and these are companies that have already existing relationships with ITAD suppliers. Some of them have one ITAD service provider, others have up to 4 or 5, based on their supplier compliance rules. And so, to us, it was a fairly simple thing to ask them, “Okay, how do you feel about your supplier or your service provider?”

And so, we came up with a set of 6 or 7 matrix characteristics from pricing to management attitude, or how do you feel about the management in terms of being visionary or not and scored them really. We came up with a number of companies that really have scored 4.5. No one scored 5. I mean, that’s probably statistically impossible. But 4.5, there was a number of them, five or six, probably, that seemed from the feedback of the customer. This is not our opinion, John. This is the end user saying, “That company and that company, we love what they’re doing.” And here are the areas where they’re doing the best: pricing, execution, etc. And so, for us, we use that tool to go back to our clients to say, “Hey, we do not know all of them, and here’s why we don’t know all of them because they are privately owned companies, generally, family-owned companies. And they will not share their data.” However, people that have been using them, that’s what they think. And to be honest, it’s been actually a pretty fantastic tool for us. And we looked at some of the operating elements of these companies that have gotten for 4 and 4.5, 4 and a half, in particular, but 4 as well. And you can easily see that they have a very forward-looking management, very active. They may not have some of the latest ideas on how to deal with, for example, social media strategy.

That’s fine. But they’re active. They’re there. They are releasing data. They’re releasing information. They have press releases. They have outreach programs, that in the mind of the outside observer, these are active people. And then you have the ones that you never hear nothing. You don’t know who they are. You see the name, they’re being used. And then you start looking at the ranks and the ratings, and you realize, I don’t know, the pricing is weird, management division, not that great. And this is what the demand side is report[?]. From our perspective, as I said, from an analyst perspective, we don’t make too much judgement on this. We only try to interpret what the supply side is saying. And to me, how useful is it for an ITAD company? What is useful? Because if somebody says, you do not have a vision, then you got to figure out how to deal with this. What is it that was defined as a vision? Maybe more engagement, more talk about new technologies, maybe more white papers. There are a number of ways that you can tweak your go-to-market strategy to make sure that your customer sees you in a good way. And that’s what this particular project is attempting to do, for sure.

John: David, you’ve just recently launched the ITAD coalition and ITAD industry advertising initiatives. Can you explain to our audience what both these programs mean and why you’re launching them?

David: Yes. So, if you go back to what I was mentioning earlier, John, is this lack of centralized information or this lack of information in general? The data suggest that the biggest source of information in the corporate world regarding end-of-life, is the ITAD company itself. The ITAD companies itself, which means that everything else, from the media to the nonprofit associations, to the likes of – I’m not going to name names, but companies that have quadrants, they have a minor role in framing the understanding of ITAD in the minds of the end user. So, the end user finds himself alone facing a supplier, and the supplier, they have an interest in saying what they have to say to them. And so, the purpose of this, John, is to come up with a set of agreed-upon methods or agreed-upon processes on how to conduct ITS[?] disposition[?], and they already exist. I think what ITAD company one and company two and three say, typically, they meet the same standard, whether it is on certifications, whether it’s on data security, whether it’s on environmental stewardship, etc. It’s all there. But rather than coming from the marketing material of an ITAD company to a client, it comes from a third party, vetted processor, or vetting processor. So, that’s what we’re trying to do. Again, we would like to educate the end user market with the support of companies that are doing the work to make sure that it’s done the right way. It’s promoted the right way. And how do we go to market? Well, it’s very simple. So, we already have our customers that we educate on a daily basis. But we’re also partnering with a pretty major media outlet out there to actually take those programs and advertised or put them out there in the market. You’re going to see some of the biggest publications in the IT world carrying that. We’re going to have a website that is going to carry all the various white papers, methodologies, etc. That’s the idea, is essentially to make sure that… [crosstalk]

John: When will the advertising initiative and the ITAD coalition launch in your vision?

David: We are giving ourselves about two months from now to gather sufficient interest around us to do it. And our media partners are ready to do it. They would do it any time. It takes them a couple of weeks to do all the design elements. A part of it, by the way, for those interested, part of that would also be leads. So, we recognize that the smaller medium sized companies are interested in leads. They may not be necessarily interested in marketing, which is totally fine. But leads would be… So, we will generate leads by virtue of having people going into the ITAD Academy – by the way, we call it ITAD Academy – by virtue of going to ITAD Academy, learning about how to do it, and putting their information there. We’ll be able to capture, hopefully, a number of leads that people can turn into – well, if they want to turn them into sales, then that’s their job.

John: What’s the fees to become a member of the ITAD Academy?

David: There is a set of cost that is going to go to the media partner. Basically, the cost will be equally shared by the members. So, if the cost is $100, for example, and there are two of them, it will be $50 each.

John: Understood.

David: If there will be four of them, it’ll be $25 each, something like that. So, we’re going to be [inaudible] the cost. We’ll issue a press release on that at some point.

John: What’s next, David? You’ve done so much already with Compliance Standards over the years. What’s your vision besides this launch of the ITAD coalition, the ITAD advertising initiatives? What’s the future beyond the few months ahead, a few years ahead for what you’re going to do with Compliance Standards?

David: Well, okay, so immediately, there’s another project that we’re working with today. It was actually launched today, in partnership with E-scrap news. We launched a survey. Remember, most of the work that we do, John, is targeted to the end user. The reason why we’ve been targeting the end user is because the ITAD sector generally is very closed sector. It’s very difficult to get information. There are a few CEOs in the space that are very open minded, and they share information under very clear, obviously, non-disclosure agreement. But in general, we’ve been focusing on the enterprise user world. This time, we’re taking the chance, and we’re asking your industry to please take a survey so that we understand the current performance of this industry in the first quarter, and as we’re going into the second quarter. And we want to do that on a quarterly basis under absolute stringent non-disclosure agreement. So, we launched this today. It was announced by E-scrap news, so it should be in E-scrap newsletter. [inaudible] are going to do a press release tonight or tomorrow morning. And then we’re going to do a direct reach out to our connections in the industry to please take the survey. It will be absolutely confidential. We want to understand what it’s all about.

Longer term, I think for us, John, we have quite a lot to deal with in terms of at least the medium term, between the marketing coalition and the ITAD Academy. And this ongoing survey and the work that we traditionally do with end user companies. I think this is going to keep us busy for quite a while for sure. Longer term, we’re still interested in consumer recycling. It’s not something that’s in huge demand. Because we do rely on our customers to help us cover the cost. It’s not a huge demand, but we are going to do it ourselves. Just to assess the kind of questions that you asked about the circular economy. If there is a discussion about circular economy, and it’s successful, it will be reflected in the surveys. And if it’s not reflected in the surveys, then the guys need to go back to the drawing. So, that’s what we’re going to be doing. We have, right now, a vision of two to three years really. Longer term, it gets very, very difficult[?].

John: Perfect, David. I’m really excited. I want you to come back on the Impact Podcast and give us updates on the ITAD coalition, the ITAD industry, advertising initiatives, and your partnership with E-scrap news and surveys you’re doing. I think it’s so important to further rationalize and legitimize the ITAD industry, as you said, is massive opportunities to grow. But still more work is needed ahead. David Daoud, I thank you for making tremendous impacts and making the world a better place. To find David and his colleagues and all the important work they’re doing at Compliance Standards, please go to David, continued success. I can’t wait to have you back on the Impact Podcast, and we look forward to hearing all the updates that you have on the ITAD industry soon.

David: John, it was a pleasure. Thank you very much, sir. I’m looking forward to grabbing coffee with you at some point. Thank you.

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