Tracy Meehan, municipal marketing manager for Waste Pro of Florida, works with clients in Southwest Florida, from Citrus County to Collier County, to manage and gain new business.
As part of both her professional and personal lives, Meehan participates actively in efforts to help keep her community healthy and clean.
She is the current vice president of the Keep Pinellas Beautiful board. She is also an active member of the Cape Coral Mayors Scholarship Fund, a member of the Keep Citrus County Beautiful Executive Committee and a member of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber Community Advocacy Committee.
“Tracy takes her responsibility to give back to the community as seriously as her business role,” says Keith Banasiak, regional vice president, Southwest Florida, with Waste Pro.
Meehan's community-minded spirit helped her to be named a Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient. She talked to Waste360 about how she works with Waste Pro to create community solutions.
Waste360: What are some of the benefits that municipalities get from working with Waste Pro?
Tracy Meehan: I feel like we have a different approach to things. I focus a lot on community involvement. I’m very active in my targeted communities. [As a company], I really feel like we focus on being a partner with the municipality as opposed to just being a service provider.
Waste360: How does Waste Pro help a community to create a solution?
Tracy Meehan: Every single community is different and everyone has their own set of unique challenges and opportunities. We evaluate things with a team of people. We have people from each of our departments to provide insight to come up with one or two approaches to bring forth for the city to help them to solve whatever the issue is. It’s really about working together and using our own internal brain trust to try to come up with the best solutions.
Waste360: How did you got into the waste management industry?
Tracy Meehan: I’m fairly new to the waste industry. I’ve only been in the industry and working with Waste Pro since June 2014. It wasn’t really something I was seeking, but the more that I get to know other people who are in the waste industry, I feel like there are a lot of these stories where an opportunity comes around, and you start talking to people and it’s intriguing.
I had just come off of a short career hiatus to have my daughter who is now almost five. I was itching to start doing something and I had been given an opportunity to work with Waste Pro. It seemed to excite me and I love getting involved in my own community here in St. Petersburg. I get to meet a lot of great people and get involved in a lot of great communities, and use a lot of the skills that I feel that I’m good at to help me in my day-to-day job.
Waste360: You’ve been in the industry for just a short while but what is something you have learned that has surprised you?
Tracy Meehan: I was surprised to learn that the waste industry is not a complicated business. It’s very competitive; it’s fun; and I love all of the people that I work with. It’s all about customer service at the end of the day. Waste Pro keeps it simple. Our motto is “Best people. Best equipment. Best service.” It’s as easy as that.
Most people don’t think about trash, the options for collection, and what happens after it leaves the curb. I know that before entering this industry I didn’t think twice about it after I placed the cart at the curb on Tuesdays and Fridays. I left it out, someone came by and collected it, and then I would place my cart back up behind my fence. And quite honestly, I had no idea there were other options than automated, twice a week collection.
It was interesting to learn just how many options (such as manual or automated; once a week or twice a week service; carted or uncarted; recycling—single or dual stream collected via carts or bins, etc.) a municipality is faced with when choosing the best option to fit the needs of their residents and businesses.
Waste360: What is a challenge that you face in your position?
Tracy Meehan: When you’re doing business development for a potentially new partnership with a city or county, the biggest challenge that I think we face is misinformation. It’s constant. All the elected officials, city employees and public works are all constantly getting different pieces of information, and I feel like there’s no real forum where correct information is being relayed—either that or it turns into a game of telephone. Misinformation can tend to make people reluctant to change. Change is scary. But, sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to receive a better product.
We try to provide the correct information or programs. It’s a matter of making sure that you’re out there connecting with the right people and providing correct information, and being proactive. I feel that as a company, Waste Pro tries to be proactive instead of reactive.
Waste360: What advice would you give to another young person who might be looking at this industry and is not really sure if they should enter?
Tracy Meehan: Probably just not to overlook it. I feel like, even speaking for myself, I probably wouldn’t have thought that I would have ended up in the waste industry in my early 30s, just starting.
The best advice that I ever received from one of my mentors was to find a career that’s going to be sustainable and that everyone needs. At the end of the day, trash service is something that everyone is always going to need. There’s always going to be some kind of new technology for collection; some new type of recycling; it’s going to be ever-evolving.