Proudly working in the waste collection industry, Sam Killeen has successfully launched H&H Disposal, Inc. proving himself a great figurehead for those working in this hardworking industry. Starting as a trash thrower in 2009, Killeen has worked hands-on in waste collection and transfer and knows what it is like to work in such a rigorous position.
While studying to earn his college degree, this 40 Under 40 award winner launched H&H and, as president, has driven the company to new heights. Applying his passion for the dedicated individuals working in this industry to his position, Killeen was able to maintain the company and serve several communities full of people. His commitments to his team, those his company serves, and his work are exemplary in the world of waste collection.
In this Q&A, Killeen shares with Waste360 staff what his career journey has been like and what it is like heading his company.
Waste360: Can you tell me a little bit about your journey to becoming the president of H&H?
Killeen: I began working for a small waste firm owned by my grandfather in 2009. To be honest, I never dreamt that I’d be doing what I am today. I took the job at my Grandfather’s company as a laborer—throwing trash. I was about 20 years old at the time. During the day, I’d throw trash. After my 8-hour shift, I went home, showered, and then traveled to my University to take night classes.
While attending college and throwing trash, I was encouraged by my grandfather to get my CDL and to become familiar with the trucks, diesel engines, and hydraulic systems. I began to admire the industry and the hard work that went into it. I eventually got my CDL license and took additional night classes to become a Certified Safety Inspection Mechanic licensed by the State.
This is when my two worlds collided. I started to apply the skills I was learning in college to the waste management business; while at the same time applying the skills l picked up in the waste management business towards Academia.
In 2012, with the title of President, I launched H&H.
I eventually finished my Bachelor’s Degree studying Business Management in December of 2013. Additionally, as President of H&H, we acquired our first Municipal Contract; the contract began on January 1st, 2014.
Waste360: What is your typical work day?
Killeen: My day-to-day consists of checking in with our ongoing clients and making sure our services are being received positively by residents in the communities we serve. Additionally, I research any new opportunities in the market that can responsibly grow our company.
Waste360: What about your work do you enjoy the most?
Killeen: Admiration of the work. I am a fierce advocate for the employees. The drivers, mechanics, and laborers that show up every day to do a job that is too often “thankless.” I am not just talking about H&H employees, but all employees in this sector. We are in a moment in time where working “remotely” has become the standard. It might sound cynical, but I say this out of respect. Working remotely has never been an option for this type of work. It takes a certain type of person to get up every morning and do a physical job in a world that is so often taken for granted. Unfortunately, we cannot—yet—throw our physical trash & recyclables into the “trash folder” located on our desktop computer. Maybe one day! Who knows?
Waste360: What is the most difficult part of the work you do?
Killeen: The last two years have presented several challenges. COVID-19 has been a burden on a lot of industries, not just ours. However, specific to our industry, it has been challenging to equip those in charge of fleet maintenance with the tools & parts we were so accustomed to having in the past “on-hand” to maintain vehicles in the fleet. Some would argue, “Well, buy a new fleet!” This too has been a challenge. Ordering a new vehicle often comes with a 12-to-36-month delay; this makes for an already big financial commitment even more complicated to make in what is now such a volatile economy.
Waste360: Can you tell me about one time or achievement you felt proud of yourself?
Killeen: In 2019, we implemented a modern communication system that allows residents in the communities we serve to contact us on a 24/7 basis. This system was designed so that if there is ever an issue with service; such as a missed pick-up, for example, we are able to dispatch a crew (often on the same day) to collect the missed stop. I’m proud to say the system was designed & implemented “in-house”. This system has been, and continues to be, received positively in the communities we serve.
Waste360: What is it like holding the responsibility as president?
Killeen: The communities we serve have to trust that H&H can service their communities efficiently. However, having the right people is key. H&H has an excellent manager, excellent mechanics, drivers and laborers. Trust is our biggest responsibility; and as President of H&H, trusting them to do the job they do so well has paid dividends. H&H is looking to continue servicing the communities we serve with efficiency and safety.