Rumpke Consolidated Companies, Inc.
Bill Rumpke, Jr. • 800-582-3107
You could almost say that six pigs decided
the fate of the Rumpke family business. Now in its third generation,
the company’s tale began in 1932 when William Rumpke got into
the business of delivering coal.
The depression was in full swing, and customers
often didn’t have cash for payment, so it wasn’t unusual for
those customers to offer items to trade for the coal. One trade
was for six pigs.
Rumpke couldn’t afford to buy food for the
pigs, but he was an enterprising man and he sent his nephews
out to collect trash from restaurants. The food scraps were fed
to the pigs, who flourished.
In 1945, Rumpke’s brother, Bernard, joined
the business and the two bought 85 acres of property and the
pig business grew even more. At one time there were as many as
2,000 pigs on the farm.
With that many pigs to feed, there was a
lot of trash being picked up, and with it came inedible items
– even for pigs. The Rumpkes started pulling out metal, rags
and glass for recycling. “We didn’t just start now with recycling,”
Bill Rumpke, Jr, the company’s COO, said. “My grandfather started
recycling in the 1940s. This is something we did from the beginning.”
The pig farm hit a setback in the mid-1950s
when the FDA said the pigs couldn’t be fed restaurant scraps.
Instead of continuing with the pig farm, the brothers decided
to get rid of the animals and continue with the trash pickups
and the recycling.
Coincidentally, the farm property happened
to be perfect for a landfill since it had no water and a lot
of clay that could be used for lining material. It wasn’t long
before the pig farm was transformed into a working landfill.
Fast-forward to today and Rumpke is the third
largest privately owned waste company in the United States. The
company owns 9 landfills and 10 material recycling facilities.
It employs approximately 2,300 people, and about 75 of them are
family members who work in a multitude of jobs including driving
trucks, working in customer service, or doing maintenance work.
None of the family members are allowed to
come into the company in a management position – they’re all
expected to start as general labor and work their way up. “There’s
more expected out of them than any other employee,” said Amanda
Pratt, who does public relations work for the company.
Rumpke said that he grew up in the company
and that he worked there when he was in grade school and high
school. “I remember being in a truck with my dad when I was five
years old,” he said. His first real job with the company was
in the residential waste department where he worked on a truck.
He said that what he’s most proud of is that
“we’ve developed an organization with family – and employees
that have become like family.” But it’s not without its challenges,
and that includes the government regulations related to expanding
Even so, the company has expansions and improvements
on the horizon including new technologies like infrared lasers
that improve sorting. “Now we’re looking for additional volume,”
Rumpke said, “because processing is more efficient.”
Because of the improved sorting capabilities,
Rumpke can sell glass that can be used to make new glass products.
Not all of the glass qualifies, though, and the rest of it is
used to make Fiberglas.
Since many of the family members live near
the company facilities, they are also customers and know the
company from that vantage point. At the same time, the company
is very involved with the community. Pratt said, “We become part
of them, partnering with local schools to offer educational programs,
tours and scholarships. We get involved in community celebrations
through participation and monetary service contributions.”
Located just north of Cincinnati, the pig-farm
turned landfill has become something of a tourist attraction
– nearly 10,000 people tour the facility every year, and there’s
a yearly open house of the recycling facility as well.
The company is working on several green initiatives
according to Pratt, “and we are working to build awareness of
these programs through advertising, customer and neighbor newsletters,
facility open houses, presentations and social media.”