Going Nationwide

WHEN BIG ORGANIZATIONS such as chain grocery stores and apartment management firms go shopping for garbage haulers, Cincinnati-based Rumpke Consolidated Cos. wants to be on their radar screen. To compete with larger, national waste companies, the regional firm has created a network of independent haulers that provides collection and recycling services for customers with large numbers of sites spread widely across the country. Rumpke's operations are primarily in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

“Our concept is to have the independent haulers at least have a voice and to be at the table with the national accounts as they become available,” says Brad Warman, division manager of Rumpke's William-Thomas Group, which runs the network.

The William-Thomas Group unveiled the network, called “Haul Pass,” at the WasteExpo held in May in Dallas. Approximately 2,200 independent, regional and local haulers have since registered to participate in the network, and about 750 of them currently are servicing clients through the program, according to Warman. As of late July, the network had 15 clients with more than 5,000 locations spanning every state in the continental United States, Hawaii and Canada. Clients include Kroger grocery stores and Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., a Canadian firm that manages more than 4,000 convenience stores, such as Circle K, Bigfoot and Dairy Mart, across North America.

The William-Thomas Group is the contact for customers and generates bids, coordinates service plans and processes bills. It also conducts waste audits for the network's clients.

Warman says that the network's participants have helped drum-up interest in the program. “A lot of synergies have taken place, where [independent haulers] want to refer national accounts within their footprint that they have relationships with,” he says.

Haul Pass program is structured similar to the framework used by waste management brokers that contract for solid waste services on behalf of clients with widespread locations. The client hires the broker, who then assembles haulers in different locations. Warman says Rumpke's knowledge of the industry provides an advantage over brokers.

Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Industry Associations, says the network is unique and an “interesting development.”

“The independents have always been concerned with competing with the publicly traded companies for national accounts,” Parker says. “If in fact William-Thomas is successful, there will be more competition in the industry. And who benefits from competition? The customer.”