Slow is Good

You remember the new economy's mantra: Fast is good. Growth is good.

But, is fast growth good?

Certainly, no one could accuse the solid waste industry of moving too quickly. Our past 12 months could be characterized as a period of near hibernation, as the industry crawled under the front porch and began licking the wounds it suffered in the garbage battles of the '90s.

If the industry's glacial speed wasn't obvious enough, it was magnified by the explosive growth in the numbers of Internet businesses. Our quiet existence was further insulted by the deafening stampede of the Wall Street bulls that somehow missed us.

It's not like we get a lot of credit anyway, but it was especially galling to watch us slog along, doing our jobs, being productive and making money, but still not being part of the hot-shot economy which was spawning one glamorous business after another. (OK, we'll never be glamorous.)

There are at least two reasons we didn't receive an invitation to this party. First, we boomed too early. By the time the overall economy was heating up in the early '90s, ours was starting to cool down. Between the creation of new publicly held waste industry giants, the potential business resulting from Subtitle D and the fact that the solid waste industry was being "discovered" by investors, our industry prospered under the Bush administration. This, despite a flagging economy.

Second, we were guilty of being part of the "old" economy. You could call us the cleanup crew for the old economy since tangible products yield tangible waste.

The E-party isn't over, but many of those who arrived early have already left, leaving the old economy businesses - including ours - more attractive.

Of course, sometimes fast growth is good, but frequently slow and steady is better.