Harbor View fourth-grader and Corona del Mar businessman Vanis Buckholz has spent this three-day weekend prepping for one of the biggest moments in his career — a presentation to the Newport Beach City Council at the Tuesday night meeting.
“I didn’t know what the City Council even meant at first,” said Vanis in a recent interview. “I’m in between nervous and excited.”
Vanis, 10, will make a recycling presentation at Tuesday’s meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers in the new Civic Center. His presentation, which will include slides and a speech he’s been practicing, will include information on his Re “Cycle” er business that he founded three years ago. City officials said he is the youngest person in memory to make a solo Council presentation.
Vanis began collecting recycled items in his neighborhood, then grew his business to include collections at restaurants, the OASIS Senior Center and the Newport Coast Community Center. He rides a bicycle with a trailer on collection days, with his father helping in his truck on occasion. Every few weeks, they take loads to a recycling center in Santa Ana. Vanis donates 25 percent of his proceeds to Project Hope, takes about 25 percent for overhead, and saves the rest; read our earlier story here.
Vanis was invited to speak to City Council after a 30-minute meeting with City Manager Dave Kiff in December, said Dave Buckholz, Vanis’s father. That meeting was to ask about collecting recycling at the Central Library and possibly the new Civic Center, Buckholz said.
“It was very businesslike,” Buckholz said, adding that he and Vanis both wore suits without ties.
“I told Vanis, ‘This is an important place, and you are meeting an important person — you have to dress the part,’” Buckholz said.
Vanis said he was nervous walking into the meeting.
“I was like shivering,” he said. “Then I was like, ‘whew!’”
“It was very grown up,” Buckholz said. “We talked about policy and rules and regulations. How the business started. Then he said, ‘I’d like to offer you something.’”
Vanis and his father had spied a recycling bin in in the corner of Kiff’s office, and they looked at each other, thinking Kiff was about to offer them his bottles and cans. Instead, Kiff said Vanis should make a presentation to City Council about his business.
Vanis accepted and he and his father began working on the presentation, and Vanis spent the holiday weekend memorizing what he wants to say, when to look up and what his slides will say.
“This is good practice,” his father said. “It’s a good learning experience and a great life lesson. It’s what this business is all about, teaching him these lessons.”
Several of Vanis’s customers said they planned to attend to offer moral support, Buckholz said.
“It went from something this small to something this big,” Vanis said. “I might wear a tie this time.”
The Council meeting is open to the public, who make may comments. Vanis is scheduled to make his presentation immediately after the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation.