In this NothingWasted! episode, we bring you a dynamic session from WasteExpo. This Spotlight features an interview with Worthing Jackman, president & CEO of Waste Connections, covering his thoughts and philosophies on leadership, industry issues and much more.
Here’s a sneak peek into the conversation:
Moderator Darrell Smith, President & CEO, National Waste & Recycling Association: What did you learn about yourself over this past year-plus in light of the Covid crisis?
Jackman: I think what we affirmed is that if your values and your culture drive your actions and decisions, things work out — and our culture is one of servant leadership, which is about serving all your employees. It’s an inverted pyramid that puts the frontline on top. And we have to prove ourselves to our employees and their families every single day. Looking back, we put almost $40 million into the business last year for wages, wellness, and health support. We thought it was important to tamp down the anxieties people had—and if we focused on employees, they would be able to show up and serve the communities. We had over 99% attendance throughout Covid, which is remarkable.
What does your crystal ball say about the future of M&A?
Jackman: I think it’s easily one of the most active times in quite some time, for M&A. You look at the macro backdrop; you still have practically zero cost of capital with low cost of debt. You’ve got family businesses that are still facing transition issues, and they can think if they’re going to sell in the next three-to-five years —given the risk of tax-law change, given valuations in the market today — that maybe now is the time to do it. Coming out of the pandemic, as we all know this industry is firing on all cylinders. I think you’ll see a lot of M&A activity over the second half of the year.
As a company, what are you thinking about relative to environmental justice?
Jackman: First off, this industry should align itself well with environmental justice. This is a local business; we deal with and partner with local governments, and the communities we serve. Often times, we have agreements that set up that relationship and support for many local organizations. We’re a highly regulated, compliance-oriented industry. So without a doubt, there may be some bad actors out there, but environmental justice should not scare folks in this industry.