In this episode of our NothingWasted! Podcast, we chat with Jeff Kendall, managing director for Laurel Mountain Partners. Laurel Mountain Partners acquires and develops strategic assets and builds companies, primarily in the environmental arena.
We spoke with Kendall about the strength of the waste industry, how companies are evaluated today, the shifting role of technology and more.
Waste360: What’s different now versus a decade or two ago as far as mergers and acquisitions in the waste industry?
Jeff Kendall: There used to be a whole lot more opportunities than there are today. And multiples were lower than today; today seems to be the highest I’ve seen in the past 25 years. So, there are fewer deals happening, and that’s really the biggest difference. If you’re thinking about selling, now is definitely the time.
Waste360: What advice would you give business owners? What should be a top priority in growing their business?
Jeff Kendall: Start out with safety. We’ve acquired 125 companies or more, and we always focus first on safety. And there are, of course, sound reasons to do that—the human reason as well as cost-related effects. The second thing would be equipment maintenance, preventative maintenance.
Waste360: With this industry being so tight-knit, do you think creating personal connections is critical to what you do?
Jeff Kendall: It’s very important to start with a personal connection. I tend to really like the people whose companies we’ve bought. I really appreciate what they’ve done to build their businesses. And it’s fun to be around them and get to know them, and I always try to work well with folks. I always tell people that we have to treat each other fairly; all successful acquirers need this skill.