One community’s trash problem is another man’s opportunity to start a business! It seems the adage is true, at least for Rick Hilgert, founder and president of Strategic Sanitation Services. The idea for Strategic began when Rick encountered the continual trash problem his wife Erin faced as a property manager at a large residential community in late 2006. The trouble was the inefficiency of trash pickup which caused the community to lose curb appeal and waste money on frequent trash hauler visits.
Rick looked at the problem like a challenge to be solved. He visited the community his wife managed. After assessing the situation in a community with 33 enclosures, Rick found that some bins were only partially full, while others were overflowing into a scattered mess. Rick also saw that many of the enclosures also had old furniture or mattresses strewn about leaving some bins empty. Also, after the pickup, Rick noted that trash enclosures were still messy with trash on the ground and remained in desperate need of a cleanup. Rick observed three key problems facing Erin’s residential community: inefficient trash distribution, bulky items, and messy enclosures. These three consistent issues provided the beginnings of the Waste Optimization PlanTM.
Rick trained a crew of servicemen for efficient cleaning, repacking, and redistributing of the trash on a weekly basis. The crew also picked up “bulkies,” the large items and trash cluttering the enclosures left behind by the trash haulers. Rick also recognized the importance of community recycling as an opportunity to optimize bin usage while noticeably improving the appearance of the community. With the new service, the community reduced the number of bins by almost a third, cut the frequency and the cost of trash pick-up significantly, and provided significant savings while also solving undesirable problems.
Today Rick’s company, Strategic Sanitation Services, Inc., services over 150 customer communities in Southern California through the Waste Optimization PlanTM. Strategic continues to grow, helping cut costs, maintain beautiful community appearances and ensuring communities leave a smaller carbon footprint.