AUGUST 2010
                                        

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Waste Haulers
Richard Wyatt • 800-804-3520

When Waste Haulers was founded by Pat Sperduto in 2006, it was just another small waste hauler in the small state of Rhode Island. Today, the company is the third largest commercial waste hauler in the state according to Richard Wyatt, the company’s CFO.

Wyatt started his waste hauling career 18 years ago in Toronto, where he worked in the accounting department for a small waste hauling company. That company was subsequently bought by a larger company, which led to several moves around the country for Wyatt, along with promotions. Eventually he decided that he wanted to get out of accounting and into operations.

Waste Haulers was still a small company when Wyatt got the call. “Pat reached out to me,” he said, and he found that working for a smaller company is sometimes easier because “there are no layers to go through. I pretty much touch everything.”

Even though Waste Haulers is small compared to the large national haulers, “we have a corporate mindset in a small company,” Wyatt said. The management understands how large corporations run, and those policies are implemented on a smaller scale for their own operation.

The accounting department has also seen some improvements in the two years that Wyatt has been with the company. The department is now “a little more structured.”

Right now, there are about 55 employees and 30 to 35 trucks on the road every day, and the company has been running a transfer station for the town of South Kingston since 2008. “Pat sat down with the town manager to set up the program,” Wyatt said. The program was designed to help increase recycling rates and reduce landfill fees.

While landfills are reaching capacity all over the country, Rhode Island is in better shape than many. While there is only one landfill for the entire state, the life of the landfill was greatly extended when two of the national waste haulers decided to landfill their waste outside the state.

Besides the landfill, some of the state’s municipal waste ends up at one of the four “burn plants” in the state, where the material is incinerated. The plants “create energy and sell it back to the grid,” Wyatt said.

As far as customers, the biggest portion of waste that Waste Haulers picks up comes from commercial accounts, although the company also services about 2,000 residential customers.

Wyatt said that the largest commercial account is Brown University, and the interesting thing about that contract was that Waste Haulers wasn’t the lowest bidder. “We won it from our interview, and not from our numbers,” he explained.

But it’s not all about snagging the biggest customers. Waste Haulers has a sales staff that talks to all the potential customers, “from the university to the local mom-and-pops.”

A recent innovation for the company was the installation of a baler for cardboard and paper last November, “so we can sell it,” rather than filling the landfill. Wyatt said that the landfill is already recycling incoming glass and metals, but that Waste Haulers is “one of the only private companies that pushes recycling to our customers.”

Wyatt said that the waste handling business will change when single-stream recycling is implemented in the state. When that happens, the landfill will buy the necessary equipment and do all the sorting. Right now, Waste Haulers is sorting the material that comes in from Brown University, “but we couldn’t do it for all our customers.”

Meanwhile, Waste Haulers is recycling in another sense. The entire fleet of trucks was converted to biodiesel several months ago. “It’s a little more expensive,” Wyatt said, “but it’s better for the environment.” He also said this change hasn’t affected the customers’ pricing.

Wyatt said that while Waste Haulers is big in the state, it’s not a large company compared to others in the country, but, “we have aspirations of growth,” although he said that it’s likely the company will stay in the northeast, “but grow geographically.”

Growth brings about change, but that’s one thing Wyatt enjoys about the business. “Change is important,” he said. “You have to embrace it.”