After profiling Leck Waste Services in August 2022, we’ve checked back in with the Pennsylvania-based, family owned and operated business to hear the latest news. Still going strong after 53 years in business, the company continues to offer a full suite of residential, commercial, and municipal services as well as complete compactor services, portable toilets, and shredding services.
A strong focus on training has helped the company stay ahead of the game. The team has recently developed a learning portal for easier access to educational materials, and these efforts earned Leck Waste Services the SWANA safety award for 2023 Best Training Program.
“We take care of all our mandatory safety training on that platform, as well as classroom training,” says Corporate Health & Safety Compliance Director John Andel. “But we also have a lot of electives available. So, if there are employees that are looking to go different directions with their career, they have certain goals in mind, there are electives there that can help them get to that point.” The results have been impressive. “In the last three years, we’ve had 14 employees get promoted to management level positions as a result of that,” says Andel.
The online educational opportunities are also helpful for employees looking to brush up on their general knowledge, particularly when it comes to technology. “A lot of people aren’t computer-savvy,” Andel points out. “So we have Microsoft courses, if you want to step up your game with technology, because we are a very technologically integrated business, probably more so than most waste companies.”
Training benefits both the employees and the company as a whole. One clear benefit to the business is that it helps with employee retention. “The waste industry as a whole is typically an industry that has a revolving door, a lot of turnover,” Andel says. “So I think companies need to look more at what their length of service is with their employees, and investing in their people and retaining those employees. Our average length of service is 11 years with our employees, which is extremely high for the industry. I think by investing in growth in your employees, investing in knowledge, you’re doing a couple of things: you’re getting the best trained people in the industry; you’re getting high-quality customer service, which enables you to grow your business and maintain your business; and you’re also investing in your people’s growth,” he says.
“That enables you to retain those people, so you’re not spending as much time hiring or training new employees. Anytime you bring a new employee on board, it’s probably months till they’re really up and running at a level that makes an impact on your business. So, [our approach] changes all of that, and allows us to focus our energy on a lot of different things besides that.”
A tech-savvy company
Leck Waste Services takes pride in going above and beyond the industry standard, with one notable example being the company’s adoption of technology. Embracing the latest technology not only increases efficiency and saves money over the long run, it also increases transparency and protects the company from false claims. “Getting started is complicated, but once you have it up and running and you’re able to use the system and you’re familiar with it, it helps immensely,” Andel says.
“I was just on a call with a customer today and they accused us of striking a concrete bollard and damaging it. And I was able to pull up video from when we serviced the account and we delivered the container for the first time. And the damage they were describing to me was there when we made our initial delivery to the account, so it wasn’t us.”
The footage is stored to allow access long after any incident occurs. In fact, Andel pulled records from several months prior to the customer’s call. “I can go back and pull video from proof of service. And it’s really neat because our camera system integrates with our customer service. So, every time we service a customer, it automatically recognizes the location of the account, and it automatically uploads to customer service the video so that, if they have any question whether the account was serviced or what’s going on with the account, it’s right there. We can even set that up where it emails the customer that service was performed. So, it really just takes questions out of everything,” he explains.
Video footage is particularly important when it comes to road accidents. “For us, being in the Philadelphia market, it’s an extremely difficult area with traffic and accidents,” Andel says. He estimates that “80 percent of our vehicle accidents are other vehicles hitting us, and it really helps from a claims investigation point and getting things resolved. And oftentimes, initially, the police report will come out that the accident was our fault, and we can actually turn the tables and absolve ourselves of any wrongdoing, so that helps immensely. It proves our drivers do the right thing, which is really good.”
Leck Waste Services managed to overcome the challenges of operating during the pandemic, but Andel reports that there are still lingering concerns. “I think the industry still feels some supply chain issues,” he says. “Getting new equipment takes a lot longer than it did four or five years ago—probably three or four times as long. So that makes it challenging. You’re holding onto older equipment longer, and you’re waiting longer to get the parts to keep the older equipment up to service levels and be able to use it, and it’s been challenging. Typically, you could get a new truck in six months before COVID, and now it takes over two years to get a new truck.”
The problem is widespread. “It’s something that’s affecting everyone in the industry. Everyone in the industry is having challenges getting equipment right now.” The team has adopted effective strategies for overcoming the issue. “You try to keep older equipment running. A lot of companies are renting vehicles. There are a couple of truck rental companies that will lease refuse equipment, and they’ll even offer you purchase options. So, you’re buying some used equipment where you can if it’s gently used and will fit into your system. It’s definitely different than it used to be, as far as that goes.”
Leck Waste Services has not only successfully navigated these challenges; the company has managed to grow during them. “We continue to grow our business and expand our business,” says Andel. “[We are] landing a lot of major accounts, [including] universities.”
He credits the company’s focus on training, technology, and superior service for the growth, citing “our ability to service the accounts on time, provide that service, provide the right people to provide that service. The effects of that are multiplied across all parts of the business.”
Indeed, the award-winning company is well placed to continue growing regardless of industry challenges. Since its founding in 1971, Leck Waste Services has not forgotten its family-oriented roots or the underlying values that have brought five decades of success—and will continue to bring many more.