A lot happened in the roughly two years since Hawk Capital, a private equity firm in Pennsylvania, acquired Ard’s Sanitation in Columbia, S.C., and brought on Michael Deal to serve as general manager of the newly named Capital Waste Services.
In that time, Capital Waste has added Matt Parker as president, continued to rebrand as the company has grown, moved twice, gained equipment and employees and continue to service customers while looking forward to what’s next. In January, it also added industrial roll-off and front load container service Ard’s Container Service LLC to its portfolio.
“It was a company that was really struggling,” Parker says. “We had to breathe some life back into it, let’s say that.”
The challenge of rebranding a company is getting rid of an old name and an old reputation, he says, while creating a brand name people know and respect.
Disassociating from the old business takes time. It take building a new foundation, he says. Old memories run deep and a reputation, good or bad, isn’t built overnight. It takes time from the first impression to the daily one, says Parker. Good service, on time, doing the little things and the big, builds trust.
“It’s an ongoing thing,” he says.
Immediately putting the new name out front by painting and adding new logos to every cart and truck, was a start. A lot of crossing T’s and dotting I’s, says Parker. And it’s about making the big gestures as well, through community outreach.
Deal agrees. It’s a personal effort from every employee, he says.
“We treat our people like people,” he says. Those people are still here, giving everything they’ve got.”
Phones are answered live—not sent to voicemail. All of our people personalize the service, whether in house or in the field. “We’ve been doing it for two years now,” Deal says. “The company is built around the people.”
And it seems to be paying off. Complaints are nothing new in the collections business, but Deal says Capital Waste has managed to keep its Richland County, S.C., customers happy down to one or two complaints a day from its nearly 6,000 residential customers.
The firm also retained all but one employee, whose driving record precluded it, from the previous company.
As Capital Waste worked to build a new reputation in market, it also was adding new residential customers, employees and equipment.
In fact, as part of the acquisition, the company added an additional residential contract in Richland County, going from 9,500 residences to 25,000 and from five trucks at the start of the year to 35 trucks by Jan. 6. It also grew from 22 employees to 90.
“Growth like that, it was a challenge,” says Deal. “But we pulled it off.”
Giving back to the community it serves has been a large part of rebranding.
For the past few weeks, Capital Waste has been planning a community outreach program with seven local middle schools. On Nov. 14, the company will participate in an anti-bullying event. More than 525 students will hear from nationally and locally known athletes who will talk about the impacts of cyber bullying.
It can be hard for a garbage company to get involved outside of cleanup at events. This, says Parker, is a creative way to give back in Richland County and reach more people.
Looking ahead, the company is looking to acquire a hauling company in another market. The hope is to complete the addition of a hauler with residential, commercial hauling. Parker says Capital Waste has identified two possible companies and is preparing for the addition.
“We’re different from the larger companies,” says Parker. “We can’t just tuck that in.”
So with steady growth in mind, the company looks to branch out and service a new community, while keeping people, community and service in the forefront.