Entering in the waste and recycling industry happened by chance for Carlos Puebla Hermida. His goal after receiving a degree in Engineering was to join a projects department of a large company where he could grow and be mentored professionally.
Although he was initially looking to join the FCC Environmental Services, LLC, construction division, he was offered the opportunity with FCC to enter their solid waste projects team.
“Even though I didn’t have any training or experience with this side of the business, I accepted the opportunity and challenge. This was in 2008, and more than 14 years later I do not regret this decision,” says Hermida.
Before moving to the U.S., Hermida was working in the New Projects Department for Environmental Services, LLC, in Europe and Latin America. During his time with FCC, Hermida has signed $3.5B in contracts in the US during the last 6 years. In 2014, FCC’s U.S. CEO Inigo Sanz placed his trust in Hermida’s knowledge and experience and offered him the opportunity to grow the U.S. line of business.
His experience, motivation for improvements and innovations in the industry has led him to his current role leading the New Projects Department in the expansion of municipal business in the U.S. and Americas for FCC. He is responsible for the search and selection of Municipal Business Requests for Proposals (RFP) and the analysis of RFP requirements within the U.S and Latin America.
“Once a project has been selected, I oversee and manage the preparation of all bid aspects to include design, resourcing, technical documentation, budgeting and pricing,” he says. “One of the main goals during the bid process is to ensure compliance with FCC's technical specifications and policies. Other important aspects of my role are coordinating different departments (Operations, HR, Safety, Purchasing, etc.) and dealing with local providers and vendors. Finally, I provide critical managerial support during the start-up period of each contract and subsequent contract management following contract start to ensure financial performance is achieved compared to proforma.”
Named a 2022 Waste360 40-Under-40 Award recipient, Hermida recently sat down with us to discuss his role and how he is innovating waste services.
Puebla Hermida: One of the goals of our department is to review the current and future state of our business and ensure FCC is in line with the overall market. Part of this includes studying and analyzing technology in our field such as alternative fueled fleets (electric, CNG, biodiesel, etc.).
As part of my team, we have a staff of routing analysts and engineers that review improvements in route optimization solutions, and work on implementing them into FCC’s existing software systems. This allows for us to efficiently route and provide drivers with the tools they need to safely navigate through their routes. FCC has always distinguished itself by innovation, and my department is in charge of proposing as many improvements and new technologies as possible to all new contracts.
I would like to highlight here the support of David Ramirez, FCC’s Sr. Logistics Engineer, who has helped with the modernization of the department and improve the solutions that are offered through additional technology sourcing and cutting-edge logistics solutions.
Waste360: How are you pushing the industry toward innovation?
Puebla Hermida: From the collection side of the business, it’s my departments responsibility to promote innovation in the projects where we bid. For example, the City of Gainesville, released an RFP at the beginning of 2022 requesting that the entire fleet proposed be electric on year 4 of the contract. Only three companies submitted a response, with FCC being shortlisted. With more than 1,100 electric vehicles in FCC’s fleet worldwide I continue to focus on bringing more sustainable solutions to the U.S. which we are well poised to do through our already extensive experience.
Another example comes from the post-collection side of the business. At the beginning of 2021, FCC submitted a response for a large processing facility project in Placer County, Calif. The new SB1383 regulation in California requires a minimum of 75% of organics be diverted from landfills. Initially four companies submitted a response, and finally FCC was awarded the contract. FCC’s experience with similar regulations allowed me and my department to properly design and budget a system that would exceed the goals of SB1383.
Waste360: What are your goals?
Puebla Hermida: My main goal is to help FCC place itself into one of the five most important waste companies in the United States, as we already are worldwide. In the past 8 years, FCC’s revenues in the U.S. have increased 60 times over from $5 million in 2014 to $300 million forecasted in 2022.
This growth was achieved organically in different areas of the waste industry. Initially this growth occurred from the residential side of the business. Once we had a residential collection network, we started developing the commercial collection side of the business. To balance out our business model, we have leveraged our post-collection experience with a focus to grow that portion of business and increase our vertical integration. Thanks to this, we have a built a sustainable business model that is protected from the fluctuations in the different business areas.
Waste360: What advice would you give to others who work in waste and recycling?
Puebla Hermida: The waste and recycling business is fun and rewarding. However, a lot of the knowledge needed to succeed does not come from education, but rather real-world experience then paired with an education. Working closely with those who have many years of experience is crucial to growth and development. In my case, before 2014 most of my experience came from Europe and South America. When I started working on the US projects, I was able to learn from three great mentors, Charles Merkley, Tom Lanzon, and Gene Carroll. With their training I was able to round out my skills and abilities, which has allowed me to be successful. Today I am also very lucky to work together with our VP of Operations Dan Brazil, our Director of Engineering Andrea Rodriguez, and our VP of Procurement & Financial Planning Juan Gorriti among others.
Waste360: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Puebla Hermida: Although I am proud of all the projects that we have been able to be awarded in the U.S. (almost 40 since 2014), our first collection contract in the U.S. (Orange County, Fla.) is the one I am most proud of. This was the first waste collection contract for FCC in the U.S. and opened the door to the growth that we have experienced since then.
Waste360: Where do you see your career headed in the next 5 years?
Puebla Hermida: I see myself continuing to lead FCC in its growth and innovation. Our industry is expected to experience changes, and I plan to be at the forefront of that with FCC.
Waste360: What are some of your hobbies or how do you relax?
Puebla Hermida: I have a wonderful family with three young boys, so there is never a dull moment at home. We enjoy traveling within the U.S. and seeing the different States and landmarks. Also, since moving to Texas I have become an avid pit master and enjoy the weekends barbequing for friends and family. Finally, although I’m almost 38 years old, I still enjoy regularly playing soccer with friends.