January 15, 2013
Advanced Disposal Services Inc.’s four-state search for its new headquarters landed them 17 miles south of their original Jacksonville home.
The company, which tripled its size with the recent addition of Veolia ES Solid Waste Inc. and Interstate Waste Services Inc., chose Ponte Vedra in Florida’s St. Johns County as its new corporate headquarters.
Advanced Disposal made the move the day after Christmas, says Mary O’Brien, chief marketing officer for the company, which actually proved to be a good time to make the transition. “People are off so it’s not as disruptive to the work schedule. We had a great moving company that did what it needed to do.”
The waste and recycling company went from a 16,000-sq.-ft. facility to one that covers 56,000 feet. It is adding 85 new jobs to bring headquarters employment to about 120.
There wasn’t enough room to expand its old headquarters. “When we incorporated the two firms we more than tripled the size of company and went from six to 20 states,” O’Brien says. “We knew our corporate headquarters would have to expand not only physical space but number of employees.”
State and local government are providing nearly $700,000 in incentives for Advanced Disposal to move. In addition, the Ponte Vedra site was an unusual find. The facility’s previous owner, MDI Holdings, was a healthcare software company that went bankrupt. Advanced Disposal is leasing the facility now from the bank.
“What made this building so attractive was the fact that this building was move-in ready,” O’Brien says. “The bank owned all furniture and decorations and we didn’t have to invest dime in those terms.”
The building also has great wiring for information technology (IT) needs, she says, so those costs were avoided. Plus, the company didn’t have to deal with the usual permitting process that typically takes 90 to 120 days.
Advanced Disposal will invest about $4 million in its new headquarters facility, with the bulk of that going for other IT needs.
The three-story building was built in 2009 and is deemed “hurricane safe,” classified as a Category 5 hurricane-strength structure. “It’s a lovely building, perfect for corporate headquarters,” O’Brien says. “We’re excited to remain in northeast Florida.” The new headquarters is at 90 Fort Wade Road, Ponte Verda, on the county line between St. Johns and Duval.
While Advanced Disposal knew it would need more space than was available at its Jacksonville site, officials originally were looking for 25,000 to 30,000 square feet. “We wanted to make sure we had room for growth,” O’Brien says. “We leased more space than we currently needed, but we see Advanced Disposal growing. We wanted to make sure we had the space as we grew.”
The company also considered Atlanta, Charlotte and Milwaukee for headquarters sites. All locations offered incentive packages, O’Brien says.
The Florida and Georgia situations were the most competitive. Atlanta’s incentive package actually was the best of the four locations, but the lease rate wasn’t as competitive. And Florida, unlike Georgia, has no individual income tax. “You get those savings for new employees outside Florida,” O’Brien says.
“The decision was not an easy one, and it ultimately came down to what was the best business decision for the company,” ” said Charlie Appleby, Advanced Disposal CEO, in a news release.
All of Advanced Disposal’s other facilities will remain operational facilities. The company will have regional offices in Roswell, Ga. (South Region), Charlotte (East Region) and Batavia, Ill. (Central/Midwest Region).
While the company is tripling its headquarters staffing, that won’t change its basic management philosophy. “We still believe in lean infrastructure. We’re a decentralized company,” O’Brien says. “You can’t make the best decisions in Jacksonville for a market say in Pennsylvania.”
The headquarters move is a key step in the consolidation of Advanced, Veolia and Interstate. The company brought all the managers together in Orlando in December to communicate its direction, “that we’re not three companies, we’re all Advanced Disposal,” she says. “We’re raring to go.