Raleigh’s Waste Industries merging with Canadian company

Waste Industries, the Raleigh-based company which supplies municipal trash service for many North Carolina towns, is merging with the larger GFL Environmental of Canada.
Waste Industries, the Raleigh-based company which supplies municipal trash service for many North Carolina towns, is merging with the larger GFL Environmental of Canada. N&O file photo

Waste Industries, the 47-year-old homegrown Raleigh company that became one of the Southeast’s leading solid waste management companies, will merge with a larger Canadian company this year.

Waste Industries and Toronto-based GFL Environmental announced the deal on Wednesday and it’s expected to close by the end of this year, after regulatory reviews. The combined company will operate in nine out of Canada’s 10 provinces and in 10 states in this country.

The combined company will have more than 8,850 workers and 47 landfills, 98 collection operations and 59 transfer stations, according to a company press release. The company will keep its name and will operate as the U.S. subsidiary of GFL, said Ven Poole, the CEO of Waste Industries.

Poole said the two companies don’t overlap on a single trash pickup route and the merger will not require layoffs of any of Waste Industries’ 2,850 employees. Waste Industries is a consolidator that has made more than 200 acquisitions since its founding in 1970, and its executives and top managers will become part-owners of the combined GFL company.

Ven Poole File photo

“It’ll be business as usual,” said Poole, who in 2009 took over as CEO from his father Lonnie Poole Jr. “Owning a small piece of a bigger pie is a just logical progression for our family from an investment standpoint, as opposed to selling out and taking the money.”

Founded in 1970 by 33-year-old Wake County native Lonnie Poole Jr., Waste Industries struggled to remain solvent in its early years but was able to expand as local governments transferred trash hauling and dumping services to private companies, according to a company profile in the North Carolina History Project.

Today Waste Industries operates 1,200 garbage trucks and picks up trash from 2 million locations in nine states, including Colorado, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Its largest customers include Wake County and Brunswick County homeowners and businesses, Poole said, and the company also picks up trash at Golden Corral restaurants and Harris Teeter grocery stores, among others.

Waste Industries manages the Wake County landfill and also provides trash pickup to a number of smaller towns that don’t operate their own municipal waste services.

Under the deal announced Wednesday, the combined company will be headquartered in Canada and led by GFL CEO Patrick Dovigi. Poole will become a member of GFL’s board of directors and a senior vice-president at GFL, while Waste Industries chief operating officer Greg Yorston will become chief operating officer of GFL. The Poole family, which is the majority owner of the privately-held Raleigh business, is contributing financially to the deal and will become shareholders in GFL.

GFL investors are financing the transaction, which values Waste Industries at $2.825 billion.

GFL expects its debt financing to fund a portion of the purchase price and to repay existing Waste Industries debts, according to a statement from the company.

As Waste Industries expanded across North Carolina and into other states, it went public in 1997, and used money from the initial public offering to acquire smaller garbage companies, according to News & Observer articles at the time. But in 2008, the company went private again and has remained so ever since. The N&O reported that company officials wanted to escape the demands and costs associated with being a publicly traded company.

Among the company’s milestones is that it became the first East Coast trash company to allow its customers to pay bills online, the online profile states. In 2011, the company opened its first landfill gas-to-energy project in Roseboro, about 75 miles south of Raleigh, as it pushed more into recycling and renewable energy.

The Poole family is also well-known in North Carolina for its support of N.C. State University. In 2011, Lonnie Poole Jr. and his wife Carol gave $40 million to the school, a donation then NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson called “transformative.” The university’s business school is named after the family. The Pooles had earlier given the school $3 million to help build the golf course, which is named for Lonnie Poole.