PROFILE: Competition Adds Spice To Market

WW: Describe a productive day as vice president of government affairs.

CM: The work of our government affairs program falls into three categories: analysis of regulatory and legislative initiatives, communication within the company in the formulation of these initiatives and advocacy of that position before the relevant government branch.

I would describe a good day as one in which we're hitting on all these cylinders. In my current position, my greatest personal challenge is time management. I'm always trying to better manage the paper flow, the meetings, the conference calls, and the unplanned problems or opportunities that cross my desk every day.

WW: How have your past experiences, including your work for Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, helped prepare you for your job in the waste industry?

CM: My work in the House of Representatives was essential experience for the role I play for WMX in the government affairs area. The legislative process has its own rules, idiosyncrasies, vocabulary, timetable and personalities. Beyond developing a better understanding of how the system operates, perhaps the most important lesson I took away from my time on the Hill was that those who are most successful in advocacy present the most accurate information, whose word is reliable and who deal in substance.

WW: What area/issues in solid waste do you think pose the greatest threat to the industry?

CM: WMX currently is focused on several issue areas. Given that we've made a major investment in the creation of a network of regional disposal facilities, we're closely following congressional ef-forts that would restrict interstate movement of municipal solid waste. Also, as a company active in the recycling business, the wide price swings in commodity prices have posed a real challenge for us.

WW: What would you consider are the day-to-day issues facing today's private haulers?

CM: Perhaps the biggest issue facing today's private haulers is competition. Most markets today are very competitive - there are many good companies out there - and that competition puts pressure on pricing, requires excellent customer service and drives innovation. All these things are no doubt good for the customer and they present a healthy challenge for service providers. Then, from time to time, other issues will emerge. For instance, the recent spike in fuel prices has hit the haulers in a real way.

WW: What is the ideal balance between public and private sectors in the industry?

CM: It's clear that there are roles to be played by both industry sectors in order to serve the needs of the many kinds of customers. There are market situations where our size, experience and technology are going to deliver the best service at the best price. Some markets, however, may be best served by a public sector effort, while still other markets can best serve their own customers. Overall, I think healthy competition in the marketplace will help establish an equilibrium between the public and the private sectors.