Today marks HOBI International, Inc.’s 30th year as a leading IT and mobile asset management provider. During the past three decades, HOBI has grown from a small family-operated component processor to one of the most competitive and innovative IT and mobile service providers in the country.
HOBI was founded and incorporated in 1992 in Batavia, Illinois, by siblings Cathy Hill, CEO, and Craig Boswell, President. They recognized a need for professional, reliable scrap processing solutions that prioritized secure data and environmental consciousness.
“The initial success of the company was us coming in and talking to these big corporate entities and presenting them with a solution to their problems and the risk mitigation they were seeking,” Boswell said.
Appealing to large corporations brought HOBI new opportunities but also presented challenges for HOBI. Finding traction in a relatively new industry meant there were few examples to follow when developing services. Hill described HOBI’s early years as feeling “very much like the Wild West.”
“There were very few sets of rules, and it took a lot of investigation and determination to define best practices, best players and quickly adapt to the best processes that would suit a wide array of clients,” Hill said. “We also had to quickly think as a large company and invest the time and talent to establish systems for processing, erasure and reporting.”
Boswell explained HOBI’s small size and limited resources were an obstacle when meeting large corporation needs in the beginning. Although adapting to large-scale needs began as a challenge, HOBI formed friendships with clients and competitors who helped the team learn to adapt to the industry’s constantly evolving landscape.
The company’s ability to adapt quickly was tested in early 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the everyone’s daily way of life and the way business is conducted around the world. HOBI had to quickly develop new strategies to manage an array of challenges, from logistics, material shortages, and workforce shortages. Among those challenges was developing programs to continue offering first-class ITAD services to our clients who were facing the same issues. HOBI didn’t blink, quickly developing a remote box program that provided clients with stay-at-home workers a mechanism to continue to return obsolete equipment and send devices for repair.
“We owe a lot of our initial success to clients and customers who were willing to share information with us, and help us learn, and therefore help us become a better service provider and supplier, but also allow us to expand the business,” Boswell said.
Building these close relationships not only served as a learning experience, but also an opportunity to develop industry standards for both clients and service providers to reference as best-in-class.
“Working with, instead of against, competition has been a terrific advantage to set guidelines that cross multifaceted industries,” Hill said.
HOBI has since expanded to three locations in Arizona, Illinois and Texas, and now processes more than four million mobile devices and 15 million pounds of IT equipment yearly. Each of HOBI’s locations is R2, RIOS, ISO 14001 and WBE certified, further proving HOBI’s commitment to excellence.
Aside from device processing, HOBI has expanded service offerings to include mobility managed services, data center services, environmental, enterprise asset services and reverse logistics solutions to meet clients’ needs nationwide.
HOBI’s service expansion is a key aspect in staying competitive in such a quickly evolving industry. The constant introduction of new technologies and skyrocketing demands makes IT and mobile asset management highly competitive. Boswell cites his and Hill’s fear of falling behind as the main reason HOBI differentiates its services to stay competitive in a high-pace industry.
“The industry moves quickly, and because of that, there is no single day that you can say ‘OK, I’ve finally got it right,’” Boswell said. “There’s always something that’s going to need to change so that you’re competitive next year.”
Rapid expansion is the key to success in a constantly changing environment, but moving quickly may result in lost quality. Hill says maintaining HOBI’s integrity, instead of taking shortcuts, was a prominent challenge during its growth, but has set a standard for loyalty to quality of service.
“I know we have been prudent and honest with all of our clients, and good stewards to their trust and equipment over these 30 years,” Hill said. “I believe we have set that standard. It is a great feeling to know that our clients and our people can trust us to do the right thing.”
Aside from expanding services and growing to be one of the most competitive IT and mobile service providers in the nation, Hill and Boswell said the success and growth of HOBI’s employees has been the most rewarding aspect of the past 30 years. Hill explained HOBI’s team is “as much family to me as the family I go home to after the work day.”
Looking forward, HOBI plans to grow its services globally. Hill indicated plans of growing on a “worldwide platform,” within the next 30 years.
“Multinational companies need multinational solutions, further, they need a partner who understands a changing legislative landscape,” Hill said. “We will continue to expand our service offerings to best fit the diverse and complex needs of the mobile and IT industries and their consumers.”
As Boswell spoke about the future, he indicated plans of staying up to date with technology and industry standards, and promoting the need for a circular economy.
“I feel it’s possible there’s a future state where the thought of throwing something away is just not part of what we do on a day-to-day basis,” Boswell said. “The end of one thing is always the beginning of something else.”
About HOBI International
HOBI International, Inc., is a leading asset management and electronics recycling company serving Fortune 1000 clients. HOBI’s IT services group focuses on corporate IT, data and telecommunications infrastructure, providing resale and re-marketing, data erasure and data destruction, recycling, environmental and compliance reporting, de-installation services, and logistics management. HOBI’s Mobile Device services group focuses on the resale and recycling of cellular assets. Our client list includes 3 of the 4 national wireless operators in the US and 4 major device OEMs, and many recycling partners that trust us to maximize the value of their cellular assets while protecting sensitive corporate or client data. An R2 and ISO14001 certified firm, HOBI leads the electronics recycling industry in best practices for recycling and commodities recovery.