MarBorg Industries has been working every day for a week, even on the Fourth of July, to collect about 29,000 containers left by Allied Waste Services of Santa Barbara after MarBorg’s recent purchase of the company and its contracts in Santa Barbara and Goleta.
Mario Borgatello, MarBorg’s president, said Allied containers are being taken to a temporary satellite site at Dos Pueblos High School. They are then loaded into rental trucks to be recycled or shipped to other divisions of Republic Services, Allied Waste’s parent company, which has agreed to take some back. Borgatello said the collection will be wrapped up by next week.
“They’re probably doing more than they have to, but we all thought this would make for the smoothest transition,” said Thomas Chiarodit, a senior program specialist with the Santa Barbara County Public Works Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division, said of MarBorg.
Borgatello said the biggest challenge has been accommodating former Allied customers who want smaller or bigger containers, or no longer want to pay for green waste disposal.
“We’re customer-oriented, and when they call we want to get out there and give them what they want,” he said.
Nels Henderson was driving to his apartment complex last Thursday when he saw David Borgatello, MarBorg’s vice president, and a crew of employees switching out containers.
“It’s not every day you see a VP out there helping out,” Henderson said. “It looked like they had a really efficient changeover, and I think we’ll be really happy with it.”
The latest development in the county’s trash business came as a surprise to Chiarodit, who noted that many privately owned trash companies have been gobbled up by larger ones since the 1990s.
“The locally owned company was just swallowed up,” he said. “There’s a whole lot less of these companies than there used to be.”
But Chiarodit said the optimum model for a trash business isn’t always the biggest.
“For all these companies, you have to have the right people with the dedication in the right places,” he said. “If you start saying no to customer service needs, companies will build around what you don’t have.”
Stephen MacIntosh, general manager for Allied Waste Services of Santa Barbara, called MarBorg’s offer to collect the containers generous and more logistically efficient than to have both companies do it.
“I’ve received zero service complaints since MarBorg took over, and I think that’s pretty remarkable,” Chiarodit added.
MarBorg representatives will appear before the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday to apply for the transfer of Allied Waste’s franchise. Allied notified the city of Santa Barbara in late June of its intent to sell to MarBorg.
If the council approves, MarBorg most likely will begin collecting Allied containers in Zone 1, Santa Barbara’s Westside, as early as Aug 1 on a contract that expires in 2013. An approval would also make MarBorg the only waste disposal company on the South Coast besides Ventura-based E.J. Harrison & Sons, which services Carpinteria.
“I wouldn’t see them going after each other,” said Chiarodit, who worked for the Harrison family for more than a decade before going to work for the county.
MacIntosh will stay on with Allied Waste to manage its recovery facility in Oxnard, if and when the transfer is approved.
Besides the containers, another looming issue was the fate of Allied’s truck drivers and helpers — which number 27 in Santa Barbara alone.
Borgatello pledged to rehire all willing Allied employees — more than the company really needed, he said. Some of the employees have been shifted into other MarBorg divisions, such as fencing and liquid waste.
“We didn’t want to see a bunch of people laid off,” Borgatello said. “We didn’t have any obligation. I guess being a decent person has something to do with it.”
MacIntosh said it was a smart business move to recognize the value of those who have worked 10 to 30 years for Allied Waste.
“I would expect nothing less from MarBorg,” MacIntosh said. “They are a solid company with a solid reputation. They know the guys who work here have the skills and experience necessary.”
Kristen Amyx, president and CEO of the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, said MarBorg is handling the transition as it has always done business — conscientious of the customer.
In the midst of the shakeup, MarBorg is also changing its own operations. In the past, Goleta had a hybrid of customer-owned cans and containers for automated trucks; now, it will have only the containers.
MarBorg is also now distributing battery disposal bags, which should be left on top of recycle containers for collection, and medical needle disposal containers that are shipped through the mail in pre-paid boxes.
New MarBorg customers with questions or concerns can call 805.963.1852. Click here for more information about MarBorg.