general manager of York Waste Disposal, a division of Republic Services Inc.
Q: How does Republic Services achieve its sustainability goal here in Central Pa.?
A: Sometimes people hear that (word), and it's a buzzword, but what does it mean? From a business perspective, the goal of sustainability is to increase long-term customer and social value while decreasing the industry use of material and reducing the negative impacts on the environment.
Locally, (one example) Republic Services has purchased 65 new natural-gas vehicles, which will service more than 60,000 customers. Replacing older diesel model trucks with clean-burning natural-gas trucks reduces greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter and ensures air quality improvement.
Republic recently made some acquisitions in the midstate. What led to those acquisitions?
Republic acquired Professional Property Services at the end of 2011, a Lancaster-based company, and in May 2012 acquired Edie Waste Disposal, also based in Lancaster. Both were aligned with our core business in the marketplace, providing residential, municipal, industrial recycling and waste services.
Edie also added additional service offerings. Along with that acquisition came a transfer station located in Highspire, which we now own, and a portable toilet line of business where we can rent to construction sites and special events.
What did you learn about making those acquisitions work in this challenging economy?
Those acquisitions are not only aligned with our core business but also are strategic in the marketplace. The key to the acquisitions is they were attractive to us because they have good reputations, good employees (which we retained) and good customer service.
When I look at how we've been able to make them work, it's simple. One of our priorities is the customer experience: Providing a recognizable value for our customer through our service offerings that exceed our service commitment.
How did the recession impact your business?
It's a challenging economy. People think the waste business is recession proof. It's not. It's more recession resistant than others, but nothing is recession proof.
The recession absolutely did affect us locally and business as a whole. Volumes are down. When people aren't going out spending money at malls or restaurants, those establishments don't need the same services. So as a result, our industry absorbs that reduction in services.
The extreme example…there have been a number of businesses that have gone out of business, and we've lost that customer and all of that business.
What challenges exist in your industry that people might not realize?
One of our challenges is our expenses. Our expenses continue to increase. We need to keep pace with inflationary increases.
One example is fuel. It's not just the diesel fuel that we purchase to run vehicles, it's that all of the parts suppliers we use for our business have added fuel surcharges that we have to add to our business costs. The average person drives past a gas station and sees the price of fuel has dropped. The price of fuel may have dropped, but the services provided by other vendors have increased and are passed on to us.
In addition to fuel costs, the environmental compliance costs with landfills and disposal facilities (are a challenge). Those costs, and being stewards of the environment, we take that very seriously, and we don't' cut any corners. Those costs are real, and I think they are some of the unknowns.
What are Republic's plans for Central Pa. in the near future?
Central Pa., and Pennsylvania as a whole, is very important to our company. We have an appetite for growth. We want to do that organically by building our customer base and through strategic acquisitions. We are going to continue to do that in Pennsylvania.
The new natural-gas trucks is a huge initiative. We are the first large hauler in this industry in PA to have done this to this magnitude. Those trucks (were expected to) be on the road by Jan. 1, 2013.
About Mark Pergolese
Mark Pergolese, 52, is married and has five children. They live in Manchester Township, York County.
Pergolese has a bachelor's degree in business logistics from Penn State. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, and his current passion is coaching youth sports.
He has been with Republic Services since 1998.