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Local and national companies lining up to compete for Batavia's residential trash business

By Howard B. Owens
Mar 22, 2013, 2:26pm

The Batavia City Council is scheduled to vote on a revised solid waste law that will "get the city out of the trash business" starting June 1, and if that happens, there are private haulers ready to try and woo new customers in the city.

Genesee ARC, of course, has said the agency will continue to offer trash collection service in Batavia, and also plans to expand into other parts of the county.

In a survey of other regional trash haulers, two companies said they plan to compete for customers, a third is considering it, a fourth has no comment and two others couldn't be reached for comment.

Ready to jump into the market are Waste Management, one of the largest trash haulers in the nation, and Town of Alabama-based PSI. Both said they plan to offer residential trash service in Batavia.

Erik Grimm, owner of Suburban Disposal, based in Monroe County, hadn't been aware of the proposed change for garbage pick-up in Batavia, but once he learned about it said it was something his company would research and consider.

"There are economies of scale in the collection industry and without proper route density, there isn't a viable service delivery strategy," Grimm said, adding that his company would have to quantify the risk of opening up routes in Batavia and determine if enough business could be generated to begin operations in the city.

The 28 years of experience Genesee ARC has collecting trash in the city and the obvious loyalty many local residents have for ARC would be one of the risk factors in any business calculation, Grimm said.

"Some level of loyalty is something we would have to think about, absolutely," Grimm said.

Lori Caso, WNY spokeswoman for Waste Management issued the following statement when asked about her company's plans:

Yes, it’s our understanding that Batavia is in the process of creating an open market area. Yes, Waste Management is interested in providing service to the area. In fact, we are in the process of creating a special dedicated phone number to give them priority service.

Both Waste Management and Suburban would offer the kind of automated tote pick up the city tried to institute with a proposed trash ordinance that was shot down by the council three weeks ago.

Allied Republic would have won that contract had the new law passed. John McGoran, manager of municipal services for Allied, did not respond to phone messages asking about his company's plans for Batavia.

Depending on Monday's vote, PSI is ready to offer trash service in Batavia, said owner Pete Stanley.

PSI works out of facilities in Alabama and is currently the contracted disposal service for the Village of Le Roy and Town of Alabama and has customers in Erie County and Attica.

Stanley said his company has always been supportive of ARC and delivers to ARC a lot of recycling material that it picks up.

He said he made his plans to offer trash service to residents of Batavia without knowing that ARC planned to continue to offer trash service, but he said it will be up to residents to decide who they want to do business with.

What PSI offers isn't much different from ARC's service -- using trash cans, bags and bins.

"I'm not going to low ball a number to get the work if (ARC is) going to be out there," Stanley said. "I'm going to offer a number that's reasonable because it costs money to run those trucks. I'm going to put my number out there and if people want to come to us that’s fine."

Dave Boon, of Boon and Sons, which partnered with ARC on a bid for the contracted tote system that was rejected by the City Council, did not return phone messages.

Tom Moran, of Youngblood Disposal, based in Rochester, said he had no comment at this time.

The other option for city residents will be for them to deliver their own bags of garbage to transfer stations.

Bruce Scofield, of Scofield Roll-Off Service, has already started advertising his transfer station in Stafford as a possible garbage drop-off point.

He said for a couple bucks a bag, residents who don't generate a lot of trash -- such as older residents without children -- could save a good deal of money by using a transfer station such as his rather than contract with a refuse collection company.

Donna Saskowski, executive director of Genesee ARC, said she can't discuss details of the ARC's new business operation will be until it's approved by the board next week, but she did say ARC was definitely planning to compete for customers in Batavia.

"I have no doubt we'll be competitive," Saskowski said, citing the hometown location and solid reputation as a trustworthy company as probable competitive advantages.

Of course, many people have said they will stick with ARC because they support what ARC does for local residents, even if it costs a little more. Saskowski indicated though that she realizes it will take more than loyalty to build a business.

"We've gotten a lot of very excellent support from many people in the city," Saskowski said. "For most people, if they're not particularly moved by our mission, it's going to come down to price."

UPDATE: Dave Boon called back and said he's been out of town. At this time, Boon and Son has no intention of going into the trash business in Batavia. Boon said he respects what ARC does and it would feel like "backdooring" them to come into Batavia after working on a partnership agreement for the previous bid.  "I'm not looking to come out and step on their toes," he said.

Jim Rosenbeck

What's that unfamiliar sound? Ah yes, it is the hum of the free market working without the burden of governmental involvement. Dare to imagine a city where the ambulance still comes and the garbage still gets collected even when the government doesn't operate the businesses.

Mar 22, 2013, 3:52pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

"I have no doubt we'll be competitive," Saskowski said. She cited the home town location and solid reputation as a trustworthy company as probable competitive advantages.She said the same thing last time and her bid was the highest by 1.5 million...I'm surprised that after all this time she doesn't have a number to throw out there that ARC management will charge..Waiting for the ARC board to meet seems like they should already of met..

Mar 22, 2013, 4:30pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Mark, it's not like the city has already approved the new law. I kind of expect it to pass, but maybe it won't. ARC has plenty of time to reach some conclusions about what it will offer and how. I didn't really expect any of the companies to have details of what they will offer and for how much just yet.

Mar 22, 2013, 5:05pm Permalink

While I respect ARC's mission, I don't intend to hire them for trash service. So they shouldn't get too confident about "their hometown advantage". There are just as many if not more people who are furious at how this whole thing has turned out. The voices of a few people who did not understand the bidding process turned everything all to whack. ARC couldn't even get their bid in as a priority bidder and then came in over a million dollars higher than the lowest bid. They didn't have to pay wages in accordance with the DOL's wage rates for the city/county. So how is that? They can only keep their costs low, if everyone were to hire them. If they got the city contract. Which was already a million dollars more than the lowest bid. SO, how are they going to be competitive with the ones that they get? The costs are going to significantly rise for those that obtain their services. Actually for ALL of us that obtain the services because we will all be contracting for separate services. At least I have a choice in who I go to now and not have the voice of a few loud people make that determination for me. I have written many trash service contracts while as a contract specialist for the Federal Government, including to Waste Management. I'll be contracting out my own trash. I won't be overpaying for it either.

Mar 23, 2013, 11:44pm Permalink
tom hunt

The above commenter makes some valid points. Lost was the economy of scale. As a retired home owner in Batavia, I will be forced to pay two to three times what was proposed under the rejected proposal for my one small bag of trash a week.

I can understand the sentiment in retaining the ARC as the prime contractor, but things are so mess up now, it will be a zoo for the average home owner. Too many cooks spoiled the soup.

Mar 24, 2013, 6:35am Permalink

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