The Waste Managers (Hardcover)
What started as a modest waste collection and disposal company in Chicago transformed into North America’s leading provider of waste collection, recycling, and disposal services. The Waste Managers recounts the creation and transformation of Waste Management, Inc., highlighting the stories of the young and untested talent pool who helped grow the company into what it is today.
One of the key players was Dean Buntrock, a twenty something from rural Columbia, South Dakota. During the mid-1950s, Buntrock unexpectedly began to manage his wife’s family garbage hauling business in Cicero, Illinois. After a dozen years of work, he had assembled the early assets that would become Waste Management Inc. Buntrock had a vision for the company’s future, but he knew he needed resources and investment capital.
Buntrock partnered with Wayne Huizenga, a fledgling waste entrepreneur, and Lawrence Beck, a Chicago-area operator. In a daring step of their own, the group rejected a corporate suitor and took their company public in June of 1971. This single move gave the company the initial capital the founders needed to fund the growth of the company, partner with others of a similar vision, and respond to the growing number of federal and state environmental requirements.
Environmental law and regulations were changing the future of the waste collection and disposal industry, and the founders of Waste Management Inc. understood those changes meant they needed more funds to respond to the new rules. The environment was ripe for industry consolidation, and over the following decades, Waste Management Inc. would consolidate thousands of companies.
The expansion strategy of the company required more than just money. It needed people, and Buntrock had a talent for recruiting bright people and energizing them to achieve goals they thought were beyond their reach. The recruits came from finance and public accounting firms or top engineering schools, and many were too young or inexperienced to understand the difficulty of the challenges before them. However, they were joining a company full of experienced, in-the-field waste operators, and together they formed the corporate backbone and management to propel the business forward and create a model for consolidating an industry.
The Waste Managers includes interviews with company leaders, first-person accounts of acquisition experiences, international adventure, and perseverance in the face of challenges. It is the story of the people who made the company that is one of the most important services the public relies on.
About the Author
William J. Plunkett was vice president of communications at Waste Management, Inc. through most of the 1990s, allowing him a close-up view of a business that is imperative to the well-being of most of society. Prior to his time at Waste Management, William was a journalist, working through up through the ranks of the Tribune Company, first at the Chicago Today afternoon newspaper and then, shortly after graduating from Loyola University Chicago, at the Chicago Tribune where he served for more than a decade as a copy editor, assistant news editor and writer before moving to the Tribune’s parent, Tribune Company. Leaving Waste Management in 1998, Mr. Plunkett for continued for many years to serve as a communications consultant to the company. Now retired, Mr. Plunkett and his wife Jeanne live in Chicago’s western suburbs. The Waste Managers is Mr. Plunkett’s first book.
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