Andrew Rumpke has come a long way since beginning his career at Rumpke Waste & Recycling while in the eighth grade. As a third-generation garbage man, Rumpke is tasked with taking his family’s business to new heights, and it’s safe to say he enjoys the challenge.
Over the years, Rumpke has worked his way up through the ranks to become east area vice president, where he now helps manage seven landfills, six recycling facilities and staff. In addition, he’s working to grow the business, make certain that recycling efforts and services are strong and ensure that Rumpke Waste & Recycling maintains its great culture.
“Since his early start at the company, Andrew has never stopped learning, working or inspiring others to propel Rumpke to new heights,” says Bill Rumpke Jr., Rumpke’s brother and Rumpke Waste & Recycling’s president and chief executive officer. “Andrew is a patient, firm, decisive, determined and inclusive leader. He welcomes his team into their roles, pushing them toward improvement, while taking the time to empower them by teaching them about the industry and business. He is endlessly willing to listen to, consider and, when it makes sense, support new or different ideas. Strategic and innovative, Andrew never shies away from a challenge, growth opportunity or technology to better position Rumpke and the Rumpke team. He shares the ethics, tenacity and vision of our grandfather and father, and as his older brother and boss, I couldn’t be prouder. He believes in progress to ensure prosperity and exhibits perseverance to be the best despite any challenge. In such a short time, Andrew’s accomplishments surpass so many others. He is deserving of this award.”
Rumpke received a 2019 Waste360 40 Under 40 award and recently spoke with us about his career, how he’s working to grow his family’s business and how the company has continued to have success with recycling despite market challenges.
Waste360: When and how did you begin your waste and recycling career?
Andrew Rumpke: I’m part of the third generation of a large family waste and recycling business based in Ohio. We’ve been in business since 1932, and the company was founded by my grandfather William. F. Rumpke. I’ve been involved with the company my entire life, and when I was in eighth grade, I was given the opportunity to work for the company by my father William Rumpke Sr. Since then, I’ve been a general laborer, driver, operator, division manager, regional vice president and now area president.
Waste360: Tell us about your current role as east area president.
Andrew Rumpke: The team in Rumpke’s east area manages seven landfills and six recycling facilities in Ohio and Kentucky. This includes the general management and leadership of operations, marketing and sales, customer service, fleet maintenance and safety. The east area has 1,300 employees and 900 collection vehicles. My role is to build a great team and to help and support them with carrying out our mission of being a great place to work and providing a great service.
Waste360: Despite recycling challenges, you’re investing in the Columbus, Ohio, materials recovery facility as well as glass recycling in Dayton, Ohio. Can you tell us about that?
Andrew Rumpke: We’ve been recycling for a very long time at our company. We’ve been recycling in Columbus for over 30 years, and we’ve been recycling glass in Dayton for over 15 years. In August 2011, we installed new systems to process single stream recycling at our materials recovery facility in Columbus, and in November 2011, we built a new glass recycling facility in Dayton.
We’ve seen a strong demand for recycling services from our customers, so we’ve reinvested into both of our recycling systems to keep them in great operating condition and to continuously improve quality and throughput. Our teams in Dayton and Columbus have worked very hard to maintain those systems.
We’re committed to recycling and want to position Rumpke to handle our customers’ material for the long term. Our recycling teams have built some strong and stable partnerships with the end users of our recycling material, and we’ve been able to enter into long-term agreements with end users, largest by producing and focusing on great quality.
Waste360: The east area is now designated as an Ohio Green Fleet by Clean Fuels Ohio’s statewide Ohio Green Fleets program. Can you tell us about that?
Andrew Rumpke: Rumpke has long been committed to investing in and upgrading our fleet to compressed natural gas-powered units throughout our entire organization. We have compressed natural gas fleets and fueling capabilities in our Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Louisville operations.
Rumpke’s Columbus fleet was designated as an Ohio Green Fleet by Clean Fuels Ohio as it now operates 80 compressed natural gas-powered units and an onsite, time-filled fueling system, which displace about 40 percent of the fleet’s total diesel fuel usage.
Waste360: Since 2007, you’ve overseen 25 acquisitions and grown revenue. Tell us about that growth process and how you plan to continue to grow the east area in the future.
Andrew Rumpke: Our primary goal is to be a great service organization and a great place to work. Our strategy is to be great right where we’re at in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and build in those areas over time through the hard work of the people in our organization.
We’ve been in a strong position to grow in our home state, and we’ve done some of that through acquisitions. Since 2007, in the east area, we’ve expanded our facility network by adding five landfills, six transfer stations and five recycling systems. We’ve integrated about 30 hauling companies into our system, and in the future, we will continue to work hard, to be a great service provider in those areas and in our home territory, to be a great place to work and to focus on our customers.
Waste360: Rumpke also partnered with the city of Columbus to launch the city’s first curbside recycling program. Tell us about the program and what it entails.
Andrew Rumpke: In 2012, Rumpke partnered with the city of Columbus to begin the first citywide comprehensive curbside recycling program. The every other week collection program services more than 200,000 households in the city of Columbus and diverts over 30,000 tons of recycled material annually.
There are 40 route drivers and trucks and 30 recycling plant team members dedicated to this work daily, and the materials collected from the program are processed at Rumpke’s materials recovery facility in Columbus and then sent to end users.
Waste360: Can you tell us about the recycling audit Rumpke recently completed in Columbus?
Andrew Rumpke: We recently did an audit in Columbus, and we’re also concurrently doing audits with the city of Cincinnati, the city of Fairfield and the city of Centerville.
This spring, we partnered with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, The Recycling Partnership, the city of Columbus and the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio to launch an education campaign to help residents recycle correctly and reduce contamination, which is a fire risk, a safety risk to our people and can break equipment and slow down processing.
The eight-week program included an initial audit of materials from targeted areas. Residents within the city of Columbus were sent information about the best way to recycle right, and a team of auditors inspected the carts and engaged some feedback from residents about their recycling habits.
We’re reviewing results from the audit, but our long-term goal of the program is to see increased material quality. Today, material quality has never been more important, and we really want our customers to recycle the right way.
In the future, we’ll do additional audits to see if material quality has improved after the program.
Waste360: Tell us about Rumpke’s new headquarters and some of its features.
Andrew Rumpke: Rumpke is based in Colerain Township, Ohio. The headquarters there had been in the same place for 40 years, and we simple outgrew it. We needed to bring multiple departments and people under one roof and prepare for the future growth of the organization.
The new 74,000-plus-sqaure-foot headquarters currently houses about 180 employees, with space for 220. It honors the history of our organization and also prepares us for the demands of the future.
The hard work of Rumpke’s team has allowed us to be able to take this milestone step, and it’s something we’re very proud of.
Waste360: What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
Andrew Rumpke: I’m most proud of the Rumpke team and their commitment to working together, helping each other grow and helping the organization find solutions to daily and long-term problems.
I’m also proud that Rumpke has been committed to helping people grow through formal leadership and management training, professional driver training programs, maintenance technician training programs, on-the-job training and mentoring. Through these things, we’ve committed to retain our culture, which is packed with integrity, dignity and respect for all employees, customers, communities and business partners.
Waste360: What advice do you have for the future generation of the waste industry?
Andrew Rumpke: In our industry, we have the responsibility to be the professional experts that communicate accurately and honestly with employees, customers and communities. So, if you want to be successful in our industry, be prepared to think long term, to learn from others, to be responsible for the management of landfills and recycling systems, to ensure safe and efficient movement of material, to think creatively and to make decisions that are proven, long term and sustainable.