“Cleaning Today for a Greener Tomorrow” is the proud mantra for Capital Waste Services, a locally owned waste and recycling company founded in 2015. With an average family generating 1.5 tons of household garbage per year, tackling that goal is a big and sometimes dirty job but the company is meeting the challenge every day and is now being recognized with the Charleston’s Choice Award in Waste Management.
“We’d like to thank our community for voting CWS as Charleston’s Choice in Waste Management. Our goal every day is to provide world-class service to our neighbors and being recognized for our team’s hard work and dedication is an honor. We look forward to continuing to meet and exceed everyone’s expectations,” says Kim Huckabee, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
Capital Waste Services’ 266 employees are skilled professionals – trained and licensed CDL drivers. “This is definitely not a fallback occupation although we’re sometimes called trashmen and women,” says President and CEO Matt Parker. The company’s leaders bring more than 10 years of experience in the industry. To attract and keep excellent employees, CWS has increased benefits to include 401K, increased salaries, short-term disability, paid-time-off, referral bonuses and retention bonuses for a year or more of service.
One CWS driver put it this way after being on the receiving end of negative comments in a local restaurant: “I’m a garbage man, true. And this job allows me to have a home, provide for my family, and the hours have allowed me over the past 10 years to earn two Bachelors degrees. I enjoy keeping the community I live in clean and I get paid well for it.”
“Most people don’t realize the danger inherent in our jobs,” says Parker. The Refuse and Recyclable Materials Collectors Industry has been consistently ranked in the top 5 in workplace danger in the United States. “We have people who spend a large portion of their day out in traffic among drivers who speed through neighborhoods, text and drive intoxicated. It’s one of the reasons we start very early when there is less traffic and fewer people coming in and out of businesses.” The company utilizes an onboard camera system that monitors and records what’s going on with each truck. “Issues that are picked up will be discussed with our drivers in a proactive way,” says Parker.
Landfills and recycling centers are very dangerous places with large equipment such as bulldozers, compactors and excavators operating in close spaces, sometimes elevated or hanging in the air. Great care must be taken so that people won’t be struck by equipment.
The Covid pandemic has brought on additional safety concerns. “We are essential workers; we keep working and keep our employees as safe as possible,” says Parker. CWS equips workers with personal protection items such as latex gloves, nitro-gloves worn under puncture-resistance outer gloves, sanitizer in vehicles and masks. “When masks became hard to obtain, we worked with a local clothing store to make masks from men's dress shirts,” says Huckabee. “We also encourage people to get vaccinated.”
CWS puts every employee through safety training. “Safety is a huge initiative and part of the ongoing culture here,” says Parker.
Covid exacerbated typical challenges for the industry such as workforce shortfalls and rising costs for fuel, steel for containers and trucks and plastic resin that goes in roll-carts, according to Parker. Impact was also felt by increased volume in residential services as people stayed close to home, produced more household trash and limited trips to waste or recycling centers. The need for business services decreased. But none of that kept CWS from reaching out to its customers to give a hand by putting them on an altered or suspended service contract during this period. “We didn’t want to have people paying for services that they were not able to use,” says Huckabee. “We didn’t lose customers because they appreciated our effort.”
“Our focus is on our customers,” says Huckabee. “We don’t report to Wall Street. We are only accountable to our customers and employees.”
Capital Waste Services is enjoying steady growth. Already operating in the Tri-County area, Lowcountry, Midlands, PeeDee area, Chattanooga, TN and North Georgia, the company is increasing its presence in Charleston including commercial, industrial, and most recently, Daniel Island and Sangaree residential services.