Making the RIGHT CHOICE
At Choice Waste Services, the hometown touch really matters
At Choice Waste, you deal with employees who are focused on Chesterfield County. They live here. The business is headquartered in Chester. Its growing fleet of service vehicles is serviced there. Its bank of phone service specialists work from the same location, helping residential and industrial customers.
Company owners and founders Jim Talpas and Shawn Anderson both live in Chesterfield, where they contribute to many community services. If you have a problem, you won’t have far to go to get it resolved.
This kind of attitude might sound old-fashioned, but it stands out in an era when business consolidations and demands to squeeze out more profit can result in impersonal and bureaucratic treatment.
Choice Waste is not a large out-of-state corporation like many of its competitors. For example, County Waste is based in upstate New York, Waste Management is headquartered in Houston and Republic Services’ corporate offices are in Phoenix, Arizona.
As a Choice customer, if there’s a problem, you won’t be shuttled to a telephone tree for a 20-minute wait at a call center in another state or country. Your service at your residence or place of business will be courteous and attentive.
“It’s the hometown touch that we want to emphasize,” says Talpas, who runs the business with Anderson, his father-in-law. Both men have spent years in waste services, starting as waste brokers who help businesses set up with competitively priced dumpsters. From there, they’ve moved into roll-on, roll-off containers for industrial customers.
Last summer, noticing a service and pricing void in the residential waste business, they started offering home service to Chesterfield residents. The business took off. In only six months, Choice went from 15 to 22 employees and has expanded its vehicle fleet from 11 to 17 waste trucks, each costing up to $350,000. “It’s a major commitment,” says Anderson, whose father and grandfather were in the waste business.
Locally sourced business is crucial for success, both men believe. Data backs them up.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the buy-local movement has been so strong that more than 30 cities and towns across the country have taken measures to enhance locally run businesses, which have community interests at heart.
Communities including McCall, Idaho, and San Francisco have taken measures to boost local businesses, which tend to have a better idea of how to interact with neighborhoods and meet needs.
“You don’t want small business owners who’ve stuck with the (community) through good and bad to get squeezed out,” Steven Fulop, mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, was quoted as saying. His town has enacted ordinances to boost local businesses.
Talpas and Anderson believe strongly that locally owned businesses are better for the local economy. If the business is based here, the money stays here. “Chesterfield residents spend roughly $35 million a year to get their trash picked up,” Talpas says. “Most of that money goes to out-of-state companies. But if you choose us, the money you spend on trash service goes back into the community. We believe in supporting our local businesses, reinvesting in Chesterfield County.”
Talpas and Anderson believe that by being community-oriented, they can offer better services with more sensitivity to customers’ budgets. Just as Choice was launching its residential service, a competitor that had bought up several local waste companies announced it was hiking its rates.
When Choice Waste moved in with cheaper rates, the competitor fought back with a series of discounts and special deals. That’s the beauty of the free market, notes Anderson: “If we can break their hold, then the customers benefit.”
Choice Waste now offers new customers a special deal of three months of free service and then rates of only $16 a month for the rest of 2018.
Not only are competitors perking up and taking notice, but Choice Waste’s industrial and residential customers are indicating their approval in other ways. Choice Waste now has more than 1,700 “likes” on its Facebook page.
As one customer put it on the Facebook page: “Our experience from start to finish on switching our service has been outstanding. The customer service is beyond what we’ve expected and I just love the fact that we’re dealing with a locally owned and operated company with people who care how their customers are treated.”