Solid Wastes of Willits owner Jerry Ward informed the Brooktrails Township board at their October 24 meeting that a national garbage outfit was buying out his local company.
The Brooktrails Community Services District received a notification letter from SWOW advising of Ward’s intention to sell to Waste Connections, Inc. Staff is in the preliminary stages of gathering information on the Brooktrails franchise agreement with SWOW to bring forward its transfer to the board for consideration.
Brooktrails General Manager Tamara Alaniz said: “This is something that is coming before you tonight as an informational, introductory item. SWOW is selling to WCI, Inc., and WCI would like to assume the franchise agreement with Brooktrails.
“The other company seems to be established,” Alaniz said. “Its subsidiaries are numerous and are throughout other areas. In the franchise agreement there are specific terms that have to be provided to us so that we can make the transfer to another franchisee. This is not asking for action on this tonight.”
Alaniz said her office had been working with Ward and WCI, and she expected to bring a new franchise agreement to the next meeting. “Representatives from WCI will be here to answer questions at the meeting,” she said.
Jerry Ward stepped to the podium and answered the question posed by Director Ralph Santos, “Where is WCI, Inc. located?” Ward said: “WCI is a New York Stock Exchange company, and their main headquarters is in Houston, Texas. They operate under different names throughout; they use a centralized management and they keep the names local. They bought out the Ukiah operator about a year and a half ago and the name is ‘Waste Solutions.’
“They bid on the contract with the county when the City of Fort Bragg and the surrounding area was up for bid and I bid on it too,” Ward said, “but I wasn’t successful…. Waste Connections is in all 50 states. They just bought out my friend in St. Helena who is retired, too. They now control Lake County, and they operate in areas of the Bay Area as well.
“When they take over SWOW they will be handling the whole county. It will be called ‘Redwood Waste Solutions,’ but it is a Waste Connections company.
“It’s coming down to just large companies now,” Ward continued. “The little ma and pa companies are having difficult times. It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve had to do this. I really didn’t want to sell but it’s just getting more and more difficult for me.
“I’m sort of being pushed out because of interest rates. Right now interest rates are 8.6%, and a year and a half ago they were 4.2%. That’s $15,000 to $16,000 more per month! Workers’ comp doubled, and fuel’s back up. I need six trucks to be replaced next year because of carbon compliance. Those are $300,000 trucks.
“I just don’t have the wherewithal to do those kinds of things. If I did I wouldn’t be selling. It’s just time, and a lot of my family are saying, “It’s time. I hate to give it up but I have four grandkids too. It’s a new time in my life.
“All of the employees will be rehired, at the same rates and same benefits. And, they are promising brand new trucks.”
Director Ed Horrick voiced the appreciation of the board, saying, “Jerry, we just want to thank you for the many years of excellent service.”
Ward responded: “I appreciate all of the compliments that I’ve received from this board as well as from the Willits City Council. And, we’ve had a lot of really good customers.
“Hopefully, Waste Connections can go up a notch higher, and we will have better equipment,” Ward said. “I’ve emphasized to them that we have a good reputation here, and I want that to continue. They are not buying the corporation. They are buying the assets. They do want the name and my Skunk.” That mention of the SWOW logo brought solid laughter from all in the room.
(Editor’s Note: More on the October 24 Brooktrails meeting to come in next week’s Willits Weekly. Also: Jerry Ward spoke to the Willits City Council last week, at their October 25 meeting, to give them the news about the new owner who wants to continue garbage services for the City of Willits. Waste Connections is already picking up garbage in the 95490 area outside city limits.
(Courtesy, the Willits Weekly)