Following in his father’s footsteps, Ted Habets has created a name for himself in the waste and recycling industry by working his way up through the ranks at Waste Industries and building teams that can turn things around.
Habets entered the industry in 2002 through Waste Industries’ management development program and, he now works as the general manager of the company’s Fayetteville, N.C., branch, where he overlooks 10 county regions and two transfer stations.
“Ted got to where he is the right way,” says Franklin Lorick, vice president of the mid-south area at Waste Industries. “His character, values, hard work and compassion for people have made him successful. As a second generation ‘garbage man,’ he has smelled the garbage and liked it.”
Habets was honored with a Waste360 40 Under 40 award earlier this year and recently spoke with us about his role as general manager, how he’s seen the industry change over the last 15 years and some of the exciting opportunities that he sees opening up within the industry.
Waste360: When did you begin your career in the waste and recycling industry?
Ted Habets: I joined the industry in 2002, shortly after I graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in business management. I participated in Waste Industries’ management development program, and I learned Waste Industries’ way of operating before getting placed into a role within the company.
Over the past 15 years, I have worked in various supervisor and management roles within the company, and each role has provided me with different opportunities. I have always been willing to move and take on new challenges as needed, and because of that, I have been able to grow with the company.
Waste360: You’re now the general manager of Waste Industries’ Fayetteville branch. Tell us about some of responsibilities that come with that role.
Ted Habets: The Fayetteville branch is one of the many branches at Waste Industries. The branch covers 10 county regions in southeast North Carolina and provides residential, municipal, commercial and industrial roll-off services to customers. The branch also has two transfer stations, which I help manage.
As the general manager, I am really responsible for ensuring that operations, maintenance and sales are running smoothly in all 10 county regions and that the two transfer stations are operating efficiently.
Waste360: As a general manager, how do you troubleshoot problems that may arise?
Ted Habets: One of the most important things to me is that both my team and I are available and responsive in a timely manner because often our problems pertain to servicing customers. I work closely with my team members, supervisor and other managers to evaluate problems and make sure that they are resolved quickly. We always want our customers to be satisfied, and we need to work as a team in order to make that happen.
Waste360: Since joining the industry almost 15 years ago, how have you seen the industry change?
Ted Habets: New and advanced technologies have launched over the years, allowing us to improve routing, customer correspondences, interaction with customers, the equipment that we use and more. In addition, new technologies have provided us with access to data that has helped us further improve various areas of our business.
I think technologies will continue to advance in the future, providing us with more opportunities to improve different areas of our business.
Waste360: What goals are you currently working toward achieving?
Ted Habets: At Waste Industries, our number one priority is to make sure that we’re operating safely at all times. As we approach the end of 2017, one of our goals is to finish out the year with a word-class safety record in terms of accidents and injuries. And in order to make that happen, we need commitment from all of our team members.
One of the things that you hear a lot at Waste Industries is that before profitability and growth, we need to be safe and ensure that we are providing our customers with the best service possible. I think that mindset helps differentiate us from other companies, and our staff and customers really appreciate that we put safety and customer service first.
Waste360: Can you highlight a moment in your career that you’re most proud of?
Ted Habets: In 2013, my local team, with support from company leadership, was successful in picking up five strategic municipal contracts. That was a huge win for my team and a huge project for me to help manage because our revenue grew by approximately 10 percent overnight, more or less, when the contracts started.
Waste360: What are some of the exciting opportunities that you see opening up within the industry?
Ted Habets: On the municipal side of the business, we will continue to have opportunities to build relationships and gain more contracts, ultimately allowing us to grow the business. In addition, we will have more opportunities to switch more of our fleet over to natural gas, which is very exciting for us. Some of our locations have already switched their fleets over, and my branch will be switching over in the near future.
Waste360: What would you say to someone interested in having a career in the waste management industry?
Ted Habets: To be successful, you need to be a team player. It’s important to create relationships with people who can help you further your career, but it’s also important to provide leadership to those who need it.
Also, the industry is a very rewarding industry—you will have wins and you will move up through the ranks if you commit yourself to the roles you are given. The waste and recycling industry is a great industry for personal career growth so don’t be afraid to take on opportunities that may be out of your comfort zone at first because those opportunities are only going to help you grow.