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August 2007

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Tri-State Containers

Edward Pomeraning

Six years ago, Tri-State Containers was known as Premier Waste Systems, and it was a sideline business for Edward Pomeraning’s brother-in-law, whose primary business was construction. After three years of working in the construction end of that business, Pomeraning was offered the opportunity to buy the waste container business, and it seemed like a great opportunity.

At that time, the waste container business was getting busier, due in part to the city of Cincinnati’s new waste trucks with lifts. The lifts reduced labor costs for the city, but required different waste containers.

Pomeraning explained that the city of Cincinnati decided not to supply new waste containers to the customers. So, residents and businesses served by city trucks had to find their own sources of containers. Many residents resorted to buying containers from some of the local big-box stores, but some of those containers didn’t hold up very well. The other option was to pay to ship in more rugged containers from industrial suppliers.

Premier Waste Systems offered another option, and started supplying waste containers to the city’s residents. But as that business increased, it took time away from the construction business. That’s when Pomeraning’s brother-in-law decided that it was better for both businesses if they were operated independently.

That was less than two years ago, and in that time Pomeraning has built the business from a sideline to a full-time operation. Pomeraning said that Tri-State Containers has since become the sole distributor of waste containers in the city of Cincinnati.

Besides changing the name of the business, Pomeraning decided to find new sources for containers, and then to expand the product line beyond the residential-sized containers that Premier Waste had been selling. Tri-State now sells a variety of waste and recycling containers, as well as industrial products.

Pomeraning prides himself on customer service, above all else. “I deliver it straight to their doorstep, for free,” he said. And delivery time is short. “Usually the same day they order it, they get it.” He said that many times he can get the container to the customer in less time than it would take the customer to go to a home improvement store and bring the container home.

“It’s kind of fun,” Pomeraning said of his business. “The city likes it; the customers like it.” It certainly keeps him busy. “I do all this by myself,” he said. “It’s like a one-man band.”

While Tri-State Containers focuses primarily on the city of Cincinnati because of its waste container policy, the company also offers free delivery within 24-48 hours to areas that are within a 60-mile radius of downtown Cincinnati, which includes portions of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. However, Tri-State will also ship anywhere within the 48 contiguous states.

Like many others, Pomeraning said that his biggest challenge in business is the cost of fuel. Since one of his selling points is free delivery, fuel costs take a bite directly out of profits. But so far, he hasn’t had to charge for local deliveries.

As far as business growth, Pomeraning would like to increase the number of cities he services as well as expand the product line. “There’s tons of room for expansion,” he said. But expansion would mean bringing on new people to take over some of what he does, and he wants to make sure that service won’t suffer as a result.

In the meantime, “The best thing is dealing with the customers,” he said. “The feedback I get from customers is so nice.”