Protecting resources in the delicate ecosystem of South Florida is no easy task, but it’s one that Southern Waste Systems (SWS), based in Davie, Florida, has taken on full steam across multiple waste and recycling streams.
The company began its work recycling construction and demolition debris with an eye for marketability, high-quality products and a zero-waste mentality.
Today, after continued expansions and integration, those efforts have been brought to and shared with the municipal solid waste (MSW) and recycling sectors.
The company has built and solidified its reputation as a large-scale hauling, waste and recycling company in the construction and demolition sector, having been founded in 1999 with one location and 30 employees in Pompano Beach, dedicated to the collection, hauling and processing of construction and demolition debris.
Throughout the 15 years that have followed, SWS, along with sister company Sun Recycling, its recycling division, has expanded its reach in the southeast corridor of South Florida, adding more processing yards to the north and the south and continually updating its recycling operations as well as expanding its collection areas and with transfer facilities to facilitate these new services.
AT A GLANCE:
OFFICERS: pictured above, from left, beginning with the back row: SWS Operations Manager Mark Patterson; Sun Operations Manager Paul Valenti; Chairman Anthony Lomangino; Vice President of Marketing & Communications Patti Hamilton; General Manager of Commercial Operations Tony Badala; (front row) Internal Compliance Officer Frank Bermudez; Sun Facility Manager Erick Montanez; co-owner and General Manager Charles Lomangino; President and CEO Charles Gusmano; Controller Roxanne Ferrara; and CFO Anthony Correnti (not pictured: Vice President of Business Development John Casagrande)
LOCATIONS: 12 South Florida locations, including its Davie headquarters and municipal solid waste MRF; single-stream MRF in Deerfield Beach; metal shredding and processing facility in Pompano Beach; three transfer stations; and five C&D and yard-waste MRFs
NO. OF EMPLOYEES: 760
EQUIPMENT: a fleet of 70 roll-off trucks and 70 collection vehicles, C&D sorting lines, material handling equipment, MSW processing line, automatic bag splitter, single-stream recycling line, optical sorters and balers
SERVICES PROVIDED: large-scale collection, hauling and processing of municipal and commercial solid waste, recovered materials and construction and demolition debris
In recent years, the company has applied the experience and success it has gained in the C&D sector to the processing of MSW as well as to additional recycling activities. Since 2012 SWS has added metal recycling and curbside residential and commercial recycling in addition to growing its residential and commercial solid waste collection services in South Florida.
With 12 locations and 760 employees across the company’s service areas, SWS has developed a formidable presence as the state’s largest privately held C&D processing company and a key entrant in the municipal waste processing sector, which is facilitating lower costs and offers a welcomed sense of change for its communities.
Decades of experience
While SWS and Sun Recycling may be new to some of the market areas they now serve, the management team is by no means new to the industry.
Co-founders Anthony Lomangino, the company’s chairman, and his nephew Charlie Gusmano, president and CEO, have more than 35 and 30 years of experience in the waste and recycling industry, respectively, having worked up through the ranks to help build and manage a major recycling and waste management company in the Northeast.
Lomangino, the youngest of five brothers and one sister, joined Allied Sanitation, a waste collection company founded by his brother 25 years prior to his arrival in the mid 1970s. He later led the effort to create Star Recycling, a provider of C&D, MSW and curbside recycling services in the Northeast. When it was sold to Waste Management in 1996, Star Recycling had become the 14th largest privately owned waste company in the nation with annual revenues in excess of $125 million.
Gusmano also got his start at Allied Sanitation and later Star Recycling, where he learned the business from the ground up, developing new markets and becoming part of its executive team.
Both Lomangino and Gusmano served in executive roles with Waste Management when the company was sold and prior to founding SWS.
When Lomangino moved to the South Florida market to found SWS in 1999, he asked his nephew to join the business.
“Beyond the incredible personal respect I have for Charlie, he was a key architect in the growth and success of our integrated hauling and facilities model,” Lomangino observes. “His business acumen and strong leadership qualities have been instrumental in building one of the strongest teams in our industry.”
Today, the company is co-owned by Lomangino, Gusmano and Charlie Lomangino, Anthony’s son, who merged his own company into SWS in 2009 and serves as general manager, responsible for the operations of its collection and hauling business, along with being a key player in the operation and strategic growth of SWS and Sun Recycling.
SWS’ driving tenet is a facilities-based strategy with integrated hauling, material processing and recycling. The company has had a long-standing belief that owning processing facilities provides it with a defendable market position and competitive cost structure verses the competition operating without an integrated model. This belief is plainly evident in the company’s growth and activity in the C&D and MSW sectors.
Over the last 15 years, the company expanded from a single C&D recycling facility in Pompano Beach, at first processing at a rate of around 10 yards per employee per hour, to its current five facilities processing C&D and yard waste at a rate of 20 yards per hour per employee.
Gusmano attributes at least some of that growth to SWS’ location in some of the state’s fastest growing markets, where the company has been able to grow organically and through acquisitions.
“The company’s growth strategy is predicated first on establishing processing and transfer capacity and then capturing volume, which in turn it drives through its processing facilities,” Gusmano says.
In the Florida C&D market, SWS operates four processing facilities, one yard-waste processing center and three transfer stations from Miami in the south up to West Palm Beach in the north, along South Florida’s rapidly growing east coast.
SWS has evolved its C&D processing operations based in part on the experience its founders gained in the Northeast beginning in the 1970s.
Lomangino shares how predecessor company Star Recycling entered the C&D recycling business almost by accident during the late 1960s and early ’70s. In those days Lomangino would sort through waste at the company’s transfer station during the cold winters of the Northeast, burning waste wood in a 55-gallon drum for warmth as he worked.
“When that material was sent to the landfill, we realized we were saving quite a bit in tipping fees because of the reduced weight of the garbage,” says Lomangino. “So then we started pulling out all the wood, and then we went out and found buyers for that wood. So the original recycling in our facility was really landfill avoidance.”
Among the original buyers of the company’s recovered wood was Procter & Gamble, which burned the wood in its cogeneration plants. Soon the managers at Allied/Star begin looking for other materials to pull from the C&D and MSW streams and for processes that would add value to these materials, such as those that existed for paper, cardboard, metal and plastics.
The birth of the company’s more modern C&D recycling operations began when Lomangino made a trip to Germany to attend a recycling equipment show with the intention of buying a wood chipper and ended up purchasing a C&D processing system from Lindemann Engineering.
“That original equipment took us from four yards per hour per man to eight yards per hour per man with an automated system,” says Lomangino. Today the company continues to use updated versions of the original system.
Garnering awards and honors
The Sun Recycling division of Southern Waste Systems (SWS) has won several awards for its leadership in recycling processes designed to preserve Florida’s environment.
Over the years SWS and its officers have been honored with a long list of awards and special recognitions for their service to the country, the industry and the community.
Most recently, SWS and Sun Recycling were awarded the 2014 National C&D Recycler of the Year Award from the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association, based in Aurora, Illinois.
The company has been honored with Enterprise Florida’s 2010 Governor’s Business Diversification Award in the Green to Gold category. The award is for Florida companies or organizations that best exemplify green leadership in reference to the state’s goals.
Recycle Florida Today, a recycling organization, honored SWS with its 2011 Recycling and Waste Reduction Award in the category for Outstanding Institution/Business.
Chairman Anthony Lomangino is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, awarded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. In January of 2013, Lomangino also received the Outstanding Business Leader Award from Florida’s Northwood University. He was also selected for the inaugural class of the 2013 C&D Recycling Hall of Fame, presented by the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association.
And in April of 2012, President and CEO Charles Gusmano was the recipient of the South Florida Business Journal’s Palm Beach County Ultimate CEO Award.
Vice President of Marketing Patti Hamilton was appointed to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women and currently serves on the commission’s executive committee.
SWS also expanded its C&D operations within the Florida market at a time when the state was experiencing a major boom-and-bust cycle in its housing market. Housing values and new home construction exploded prior to 2006, before experiencing a dramatic fall in 2007.
“We didn’t have huge growth during the bust, but we definitely maintained our strong customer base,” explains Gusmano. “Our ability to flourish in both good and bad times can be credited first to our team and our leadership-focused culture and of course to the strength of our facilities-based, integrated business model.”
In more recent years, though, SWS has resumed a solid growth trend, seeming to almost bust at the seams in every business segment it has committed to. Three of the company’s most recent ventures have been metal recycling, municipal waste processing and single-stream recycling services.
On the MSW front, in 2010 SWS entered into a joint venture on behalf of its Sun Recycling division and Bergeron Environmental Services, a land development and environmental consulting company based in Davie. Both companies saw an opportunity with the impending completion of a 20-year-long MSW collection and processing contract for Broward County communities that had been held by Waste Management’s Wheelabrator Technologies subsidiary. The joint venture business, Sun Bergeron, hoped to introduce some competition into the waste management and recycling market in the county.
In what would become for SWS a pivotal moment, in 2012 Broward County approved Sun Bergeron’s bid on waste collection, processing and disposal contracts in the city of Miramar, bringing a second company into the mix and, according to local news reports, helping to decrease processing and disposal costs for county residents by almost half.
In another victory for the joint venture, 26 of the county’s 31 cities became eligible to piggy-back on the Miramar contract. In the ensuing months, the joint venture was awarded MSW and/or recycling contracts for 17 cities in Broward County.
Lomangino says Sun Bergeron’s entry into the market is saving residents of Broward county millions of dollars.
Gusmano says that unlike its competitors, Sun Bergeron does not use an incineration-only process for the disposal of MSW, which means the company has more incentive to recycle. In addition, SWS has made a concerted effort through its processes to offer its customers added value.
To accommodate these contracts, SWS built an MSW processing facility in Davie, which was completed in 2013 and is on track to process more than 300,000 tons this year, along with a new 25-ton-per-hour single-stream recycling facility in Deerfield Beach, which opened in early 2014.
“These two facilities added a new dimension to the scope of our business,” Gusmano says. “In addition, they create highly sought-after and valuable jobs in our state.”
What’s more, the company’s MSW and recycling services have benefitted from some of SWS’ C&D business practices and management technology. “All of our facilities—C&D, MSW and residential/commercial recycling—are single-stream facilities,” Gusmano says. “Our customers enjoy the convenience of disposing of waste on their sites in just one container. We then process, separate and produce valuable products from the materials.”
Offering this benefit, he explains, means customers don’t have to make extra space on their sites for separate containers, nor do they need to separate materials at job sites.
“That single source container is processed at our facilities utilizing the most up-to-date equipment and processes in the industry,” Gusmano says.
In terms of C&D recycling operations, extensive research and development has resulted in some of the highest recycling percentages in the industry.
Gusmano says General Kinematics is a trusted vendor, providing effective vibratory processing solutions. He notes that the company is looking forward to the use of the first GK SXS Screen, which is expected to be in operation this fall and can handle multiple waste streams, including C&D and MSW.
The Deerfield Beach single-stream recycling facility features processing lines and screens from Sherbrooke, an automatic bag opener, five Eagle Vizion optical sorters and two Sierra two-ram balers.
Another new market area for SWS has been metal recycling. In the fall of 2013 Gusmano made the decision to enter the metal shredding and processing market, with the purchase of a turnkey Wendt Corp. shredder and nonferrous system. Gusmano’s decision to add the shredder was based on the goal of eliminating one step in selling the company’s end products.
The company was receiving more than 2,200 tons of metals per month from its combined C&D operations, and Gusmano knew the shredder made sense.
Rather than sell all the metals it received as a result of its C&D operations to another scrap metal recycling company for processing, Gusmano decided to shred and sort the material himself, adding value to the end product Sun could produce and also gaining the ability to sell this shred to consumers directly.
The shredder and downstream system was installed at Sun’s original facility in Pompano Beach, which was previously a C&D yard and processing operation and most recently a truck depot.
Around the same time, the company also continued to expand its collections sector, winning a five-year collection contract for roughly 47,000 residential homes and 30,000 commercial businesses in Palm Beach County. This was in addition to the company’s existing collections contracts for MSW, recycling and yard waste in a handful of other South Florida communities and numerous multifamily waste services throughout Broward, Miami Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Gusmano says strong markets for the company’s materials have been another driver of its business growth and success. “Our position as an integrated C&D collector, processor, manufacturer and marketer puts us at a distinct advantage,” Gusmano observes.
Gusmano is the first to acknowledge, that while it’s widely believed to be difficult to differentiate in the waste industry, that’s just what SWS has done.
“SWS has built a brand that represents an environmentally sound, high service, responsible and dependable operator focused on recycling and waste processing for zero waste,” he says. “Service to our customers is our No. 1 focus. We believe contributing to the communities where we work and live is extremely important and critical to being a good corporate partner.”
The author is an editor with the Recycling Today Media Group and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.