Episode 81: Leading (and Building) Companies with HeartEpisode 81: Leading (and Building) Companies with Heart
In our latest episode of NothingWasted!, we chat with Willie Goode, CEO of WB Waste Solutions.
WB Waste Solutions focuses on delivering environmentally focused waste solutions through its family of waste collection, recycling, processing, and transportation companies.
We talked with Goode about the importance of a service-forward attitude, the role of technology on the industry’s workforce, the continued importance of worker safety and more.
Here’s a sneak peek into the discussion:
Waste360: How did you get started in the industry?
Goode: I grew up in a low-income housing neighborhood in Washington, D.C. At the age of 13, my uncle got me a job—he had three garbage trucks, and I started riding on a truck. Through that, I got to get out of my neighborhood. My work skills came from my parents and uncles, and I started truly taking a liking to the work. At 15-and-a-half, believe it or not, I started driving a truck! And I decided to focus on it.
Waste360: And now how many trucks do you have?
Goode: Today, we have over about 250 collection trucks on the streets every day; thirteen different sites; four transfer stations; one recycling MRF; two recycling transfer stations to feed into the bigger MRF; and a landfill. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary of the landfill and went from zero tons to around 1,200 tons per day of C&D construction debris. We have just over 900 employees—
I call them “co-workers;” nobody works for me, we all work together—and I smile about it all every day. I like to teach and bring others on.
Waste360: What impact has this crazy year and the pandemic had on your business?
Goode: One thing is that the residential home has now become the extended-stay hotel, the restaurant, the club…everything is happening there! And so the residential waste has grown. We’ve also had to check ourselves on safety both with COVID precautions and also with driver safety on the streets; there was a new kind of havoc with extra cars being parked on the streets and things like that. Early on, I gave an incentive to my co-workers; I said, “Look, if you successfully make it to work Monday through Friday, we’re going to give you an extra $50-$75 a week. We want you to be able to help you and your family stay safe.” I did it from the heart. It hit our books, but the respect I get from my co-workers, I’d take that trade any day.
Waste360: Do you think the industry is more diverse now than when you began?
Goode: I have been afforded the opportunity to teach and bring in a lot of minority and women workers. My door is open, and I understand these issues. If you’re qualified, you’re qualified. I’ve been going to WasteExpo for over 25 years, and yes—the opportunities are opening up. You give a person a chance, and you’ll be amazed how that works out.
Waste360: What’s next for you?
Goode: I’m looking to develop and teach and give back. I love this industry.