PROFILE: Collins Offers Growth Strategies

WW: What challenges face today's hauling managers?

MC: Establishing new growth in already saturated markets is always the biggest challenge facing hauling managers. Being flexible and able to adapt to changes in the market help keep you ahead of the competition.

WW: How have economic considerations transformed waste collection in recent years?

MC: At one time the waste industry seemed to be impervious to overall economic conditions. Now, it is very apparent that the industry is not immune to business cycles. Over recent years companies have tried to streamline to become more competitive and operate more efficiently. Combine that with an era of acquisitions and mergers and the result has been an evolution of fewer, larger, more diversified companies than ever before.

WW: How have and how will increasing regulations effect waste collection?

MC: New regulations, in both transportation and environmental policies, are designed to safeguard the public and the environment and usually mean higher costs, which inevitably are passed through to the consumer. It has been Sexton's philosophy over the years to exceed the requirements posed by both state and federal regulations. In our efforts we still are able to offer cost-effective solid waste handling.

WW: How will technological advances change collection in the future?

MC: New technology in landfill design, as well as hauling techniques, have made for safer, more effective collection and disposal methods. Sexton has prided itself during its 62-year history on being an industry leader in both of these areas. Companies must be poised to take advantage of new technologies as they become available in the industry.

WW: What is the future for the small- to medium-sized private hauler?

MC: If a company is staffed with good professional talent and has a solid financial base, the future can be a bright one. A decided advantage that smaller- and medium-sized companies like Sexton have over larger firms is the ability to analyze issues and make intelligent, effective decisions quickly. It is important to react swiftly to changing market conditions.

WW: What are potential growth strategies for haulers in the '90s?

MC: In my experience, there are three growth strategies for a collection business: new sales through industrial and commercial contracts such as restaurants and manufacturers; municipal contracts, which are probably the easiest to attain but are not always the most profitable; and acquisitions of other companies. Unfortunately, all of these strategies have their own pitfalls.

Perhaps the soundest route is through new sales because you are able to control your costs and have a positive effect on your bottom line. Acquisitions, if done correctly, can also be beneficial. But the biggest drawback in acquisitions is inheriting someone else's nightmare. Acquiring another company is rarely a cure all. My best advice is to do your homework and think ahead.