For the past 85 years, Colerain Township, Ohio-based Rumpke Waste & Recycling has been one of the largest, family-owned Midwestern waste haulers in the U.S. Throughout its long history, the company has faced challenges with evolving legislation, increased environmental scrutiny and the demand to upgrade technology—things that have caused many businesses in the industry to close.
But during those difficult moments, Rumpke weathered the changes, evolved and became a stronger company for it—in fact, this past year the company has experienced successes in launching several long-term projects and partnerships.
Recently, the company opened its new $20 million corporate headquarters and the company also is working on some landfill expansions. Earlier this year, Rumpke also opened a new landfill gas‐to‐energy plant at its Brown County, Ohio Landfill.
Rumpke partnered with Energy Developments to construct the 4.8 mega‐watt power plant. The power is sold to American Municipal Power of Ohio and supplies electricity to three communities.
The Brown County Landfill is Rumpke’s third location to feature this type of technology. The company also has facilities at its Pendleton County, Ky., landfill and at Rumpke Sanitary Landfill, just outside Cincinnati. The plant at Rumpke Sanitary Landfill is often described as one of the world’s largest landfill gas‐to‐direct energy pipeline systems.
Rumpke also partnered with IGS CNG Services to build a new compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at the company’s Columbus, Ohio, location.
Waste360 recently sat down with Bill Rumpke Jr., president and CEO of Rumpke, to discuss the company’s history and successes, in addition to its future within the industry.
Waste360: How is business as a big regional, private Midwestern hauler?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: Business at Rumpke is great. The economy is thriving, and it’s evident in the waste business. We are exceeding our disposal and customer acquisition objectives for the year. Efficiency and quality have never been better at our recycling facilities. We are creating more jobs and welcoming more talent to the Rumpke team.
We also just broke ground on a new 74,000-sq.-ft. corporate headquarters. We are making major infrastructure improvements throughout the company, and we are upgrading technology to streamline processes and better serve our customers. At the same time, we are always researching new opportunities. Things are going well.
Waste360: Talk about your new headquarters. How did it come about?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: Rumpke is a family‐owned company. I am the third generation to oversee our family business, and our fourth generation is now taking on leadership roles. Each generation has put its own mark on the business.
My grandfather, the late William F. Rumpke, founded our company in 1932. He grew the business from the ground up. In the early 1940s, he purchased some land in Colerain Township just outside of
Cincinnati. He established our company culture: treat your team like family and take care of your customers.
Later when my father, Rumpke’s President Emeritus Bill Rumpke Sr., and his cousin and business partner, the late Tom Rumpke, purchased the company from their fathers, they added locations throughout the Midwest and built Rumpke’s current corporate headquarters.
Today, after years of talk, years of planning and years of significant growth—it’s time for the next generation to put its touch on the business.
The new headquarters will replace a few outdated structures and bring our employees together in a new innovative facility that will add business efficiencies and improve the work environment for our team.
This project also provides space for us to grow. As we recruit new professionals into our organization, we hope they too will enjoy the modern work environment we have created.
Waste360: How do you manage opportunities in the industry?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: Realistically. We are patient and deliberate. We carefully calculate risks and rewards, and we consider every consequence. At the end of the day, 3,000 employees and millions of customers depend on us to get it right.
Waste360: How do you deal with challenges?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: My father always demonstrated strength and perseverance. You will achieve success by doing the right thing and remaining patient. Yet, we never give up, and we aren’t afraid to be tenacious. It’s important to keep an open mind, ask questions, listen to others, make observations and research best practices.
Waste360: What is the future of hauling in general?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: No one can predict the future, but I think safer, more efficient hauling options will become more available. Technology will play a more prominent role in managing our business and ensuring a positive customer experience. Continued emphasis will be placed on sustainability and implementation of the best, most environmentally‐friendly options. New recycling technology will continue to emerge, allowing for new opportunities to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.
Waste360: How has technology affected your business?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: Positively. New technology has allowed us to simplify and expedite processes and increase accuracies and consistency, while ultimately reducing time, labor and costs. It makes us more responsive to our employees, regulators and customers.
Waste360: What is the growth plan for Rumpke?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: We have always been open to new opportunities. We closely examine all acquisition and business prospects, we research new technology and business practices, and if it makes sense, we pursue a project. Every opportunity we pursue has to make economic and environmental sense. It has to fit the Rumpke mission of offering a complete solid waste solution for our customers.
Over the years, we have established a strong network of landfills, transfer stations and recycling operations. Any decision to grow has to match up with that network. It has to make financial sense.
Ultimately, our focus never changes. We are going to keep on improving the customer experience and we get there with investments in technology, more and better training for our team and a focus on research and development.
Waste360: As a company, how do you remain a “good neighbor” and give back to the community?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: Rumpke believes in treating others the way they wish to be treated—including our employees, customers and all the communities we service.
That’s our name on those trucks. We are a hometown company. The Rumpke family lives in or near many of the communities we service. We feel strongly about staying active members of those communities. With this in mind, we maintain transparent communications. We encourage people to tour our facilities and ask questions about our operations. Thousands of people take us up on those opportunities annually. We also host open houses, picnics and presentations to share updates about our business.
And we make a point to give back. We heavily support local schools and churches, along with a variety of non‐profit service organizations and causes. We strive to be a good corporate citizen and make a difference when we can. We help with clean‐ups and support revitalization projects. We often work hand‐in‐hand with communities on improvement projects.
Making a community great takes a team. Every person, every business has something to offer.
Waste360: What legacy do you hope Rumpke leaves within the industry?
Bill Rumpke Jr.: Rumpke wants to be known as an innovative and compliant solid waste solutions leader—a company that puts people and the environment first. We’re an ethical corporate citizen and a fair employer who strives to improve the lives of many.