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Communication is Key for Republic’s Readlinger

Bridgette Miramon Readlinger, general manager of Republic Services, manages Metairie Hauling, Houma Hauling & Colonial Landfill in southern Louisiana. In this Q&A interview, the Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient talks about the importance of listening, communicating, and seizing opportunities for career growth.

Willona Sloan

August 8, 2023

5 Min Read
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Bridgette Miramon Readlinger, general manager of Republic Services, manages Metairie Hauling, Houma Hauling & Colonial Landfill in southern Louisiana.

In this Q&A interview, the Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient talks about the importance of listening, communicating, and seizing opportunities for career growth.

Waste360: Why is strong communication important to you as a general manager?

Readlinger: The communication piece is so important to me because I don't believe that anybody is beneath anybody. I want everyone to know what's going on in different aspects of our business unit because it’s what helps us be the well-oiled machine that we are.

I truly believe that the places that I've worked in the past, where I've loved where I work, I worked harder. I gave a better product. I was fully vested in my career there.

I've seen that over the course of time, as we've kind of shifted the environment here, that as we care about people, and are people-centered, not only has turnover gone down, and financials gone up, but there is this built-in trust where we're just almost like a work family.

When it comes to world-class service, we've never given service like we do out of south Louisiana, or ever been better than what we're doing now. I think it's because the drivers, the technicians, the sales reps, everybody in between, they know that we care about them, so then they're giving their “A” game, because they like working here and they want to continue to work here. We've kind of raised the bar and have a high standard of expectations, and it's trickled down to their work, as well.

Waste360: It’s also communicating with your customers. What does that look like for you?

Readlinger: At Republic Services, we use the Medallia scoring system. Everybody from Coca-Cola to Harley-Davidson and anybody in between uses them. What they do is they call your customers and they say, not only how are they doing, but would you recommend them to someone else? Then they rank you on a scale of 0 to 10. Those are so important to me. New Orleans is currently, and has been for a long time, number one in the nation for Republic Services in customer service, and it's because we communicate to our customers.

Our customers know that trucks are going to break down. They know that maybe a driver is going to go home because their kid had to be picked up from school or somebody had a baby, or just life. Life things happen, but it's how you communicate. I always say we've got corporate muscle, and local hustle. I think the local hustle and that customer connection really separates us from the pack.

Waste360: Tell me about your pathway into waste management and to the general manager position with Republic.

Readlinger: I was always in sales, and I loved what I did prior to coming to Republic Services. I was in hospitality sales. It was glitz and fancy, and the money was good. It was creative.  I loved everything about it, but people want to have special events, and people want to book conferences and have weddings on the weekends and at nighttime. I am a mom of three. And at the time, my son, my oldest is now 18, but 12 years ago, when I made this transition, he was just starting tee-ball and I missed those first couple games. I was like, whoa, this isn't going to work out. It didn't cross my mind, because I'd been in that industry for so long.

I went to a recruiter and at the time I said, sales is sales. This is the amount of money I want to make. Find me something that I'll love, that will be sustainable for a long time, that doesn't make me work when my kid's playing ball.

There was a position on the environmental sales side of things, and with my same mentality of sales is sales, I was like, sure, I can sell garbage. I can sell special waste. I can sell anything in this realm. That was my gate into the industry. After I was in environmental sales, it segued into sales management, and then eventually into what I'm doing now.

We had an internal general manager program that I was able to enter, and that kind of coaches you through understanding the operational components, and understanding the maintenance components. If you kind of go back to the baseline of it, you just take care of your people. They're the experts in those lines. I'm people-centric. I was like, if you guys trust me to run the place, I'll make the people happy. We'll take care of them. We'll boost employee engagement, which will then segue on over to operational success and maintenance success, and that's what we've done.

Waste360: What do you like about working for Republic Services? What excites you?

Readlinger: Lots of things excite me, but if I had to just kind of choose a couple, it would be number one, the way that they take care of us. That starts at the top. The people-centric company that Republic Services has become, the sustainable company that they've become. They've helped us pave the way in our communities to give back and to help others. They've empowered us to take the time to go rebuild that garden, go rebuild that park, take time out of your day and go help with this person's house. We do a tremendous amount of community give-backs in the form of what we call sustainability. I love that about Republic.

I love that there's a security with our industry. It's proven to be recession-proof. It's proven to be pandemic-proof. Garbage is here to stay, and I think I find comfort in that, as a mom of three.

Republic takes care of their employees. They give back to their communities. They push safety. And they also just empower us [as managers] to say, if you want to do that role, we'll help you get there.

I always say, “If you love what you do, it’s not work,” and I do love what I do.

About the Author(s)

Willona Sloan

Freelance writer, Waste360

Willona Sloan is a freelance writer for Waste360 covering the collection and transfer beat.

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