Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What a Wonderful World of Waste

In the summer of 1975 I did a 12 week stint as a household trash collector, the highest paying job available to a talentless 17 year old before starting college at the University of Georgia. 

 As my Dad instructed me was proper form, two weeks in advance I asked for a 3 day vacation to go on a low budget high school senior cruise to the Bahamas. The company advised they did not give vacations to summer employees. The next day, again as Dad instructed was proper form, I tendered my two week notice.

Harry, the dispatcher, advised he had never (A) had an employee offer 2 week notice or (B) lost an employee to a cruise. However, his young assistant, a degreed management trainee, recommended I come back after graduation. 

I thought not, because as a dim teenager I didn’t catch his drift that I would not likely be picking up garbage for the rest of my life. The company was Georgia Waste, later purchased by Waste Management Corporation.

It might have been a good idea to consider that advice, because WM does pretty well these days. A better idea would have been to join the friend who recommended me for that summer job, waste collection veteran and now Titan in the Industry, Mark Slade.

Slade was a driver, later partner and eventually general manager in his family’s thriving commercial dumpster business. He went on to acquire and expand two Atlanta area solid waste management companies, the last of which he sold to Waste Management. Does anyone notice a pattern here, or is it just me?

In 2002 Slade purchased yet another firm, a small portable toilet operation. Here he shifted the company focus and launched Comfort Zone Portables, now a provider of luxury “relief stations” at major concert & entertainment events and more around the globe. Wherever Comfort Zone installs its portables, ticket holders are happy patrons.

Portalets have long been derided as foul accomodations of last resort on construction sites and elsewhere when indoor privies are not close by. Comfort Zone changed all that, and in a big way. They did it across expanded product lines to include:

~ VIP Restrooms
~ Restroom and Shower Trailers
~ Portable Kitchen Trailers

Geographic expansion beyond Atlanta began with events & festivals throughout the southeast, later across the US. Comfort Zone now also provides its services at sporting & corporate events, military camps and disaster relief sites. No event is too small, as the firm also caters to weddings and private parties.

MSS International is the European Co-Op delivering products and services across the pond. Together, Comfort Zone and MSS International lead the global industry in development of environmentally sustainable innovative sanitation solutions.

Who says it’s too late to learn from a 40+ year old lesson? I may have neglected good 1975 advice to involve myself in the sanitation biz, but I’ll keep a close eye on it going forward.