LRS acquires GFL’s assets in northern Illinois, northern Minnesota

LRS acquires GFL’s assets in northern Illinois, northern Minnesota

The deal adds four transfer stations, eight facilities, 16 northern Illinois municipal solid waste contracts and 120 employees.

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October 4, 2021

LRS, headquartered in Morton Grove, Illinois, says it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase assets from Ontario-based GFL Environmental Inc. The move expands LRS’ reach across northern Illinois and northern Minnesota and expands the number of acquisitions LRS has made in 2021 to 13.

Financial terms of the transaction, which closed at the end of the third quarter, have not been disclosed. 

Alan Handley, president and CEO of LRS, tells Recycling Today that this deal has been “top of mind for me” for “some time.”

The purchase is the company’s largest and most influential acquisition to date and includes GFL's recent acquisition of Lake Barrington, Illinois-based Prairieland Disposal and Recycling Services, which closed this summer. As a result of the purchase, LRS says it will serve as the official waste and recycling services provider for GFL/Prairieland's 16 municipal solid waste contracts across the Illinois counties of McHenry and Lake, which include the cities and villages of McHenry, Island Lake, Saddlebrook Farms, Tower Lakes, Port Barrington, North Barrington, Richmond, Hebron, Oakwood Hills, Crystal Lake, McCullom Lake, Capron, Union, Fox River Grove, Lake Zurich and the Wauconda.

The acquisition also includes three Illinois transfer stations in Elburn, Northbrook and Rolling Meadows; a transfer station in Rochester, Minnesota; the Rolling Hills Landfill in Buffalo, Minnesota; and facilities in Lake Barrington and Wauconda, Illinois and St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Handley says, “This acquisition was mostly an infrastructure play. It basically solidifies my infrastructure position in northern Illinois by giving us the three transfer stations that we needed: North Brook, Rolling Meadows and then Elburn.”

The included acquisition of Prairieland, which has a large presence in McHenry County and in parts of Lake County, “allows us to feed that material into that existing infrastructure” and further solidifies LRS’ position in the market, he says.

Handley adds that this deal is “a little bit more atypical than what we would normally be looking at” in terms of acquisitions, saying LRS will continue to buy and seek deals that make sense for the company in the greater Midwest.  

Regarding future purchases, he says LRS plans to announce another one this Friday. “And then we have, probably seven or eight more that we’ll close this year in a pretty broad swath of territory in the greater Midwest” in what will be “a very big quarter for LRS.” Handley says those investments should total more than $100 million.

“We'll just continue to do what I've been saying we're going to do all along. We’re seeking out well-run, multigenerational waste recycling companies that are located in the greater Midwest And we continue to find them and continue to be an attractive acquirer for those companies because we bring a lot more to the table than other people who are seeking those same kinds of investments.

“I think 2021 when we look back on it will be a phenomenal year for LRS, and I think it is setting us up in a great position for the future.”

In a news release announcing the purchase from GFL, Handley says, "This dynamic acquisition of the entire GFL footprint in both northern Minnesota and northern Illinois, including transfer stations, collection operations and landfill, is a game-changer for LRS. With the addition of these new markets, facilities and disposal assets, LRS is positioned to thrive as the largest privately held waste, recycling and portable services provider in the Midwest United States."

Customer outreach letters will be distributed soon to all Prairieland residential and commercial customers, welcoming them and walking them through the transition to LRS, the company adds.

"Measuring performance levels on every gauge, LRS has moved aggressively to disrupt the waste industry status quo, bringing about much-needed competition and fair pricing in the markets we serve," Handley says in the news release. "Our cornerstone differentiator is being among the first in our industry to adopt a circular operating model that today serves as a bedrock company value: to safely divert, repurpose and recycle more material away from the waste stream, conserving and protecting our planet for a more sustainable future."  

LRS acquisitions announced through the third quarter of 2021 include:

  • Maywood, Illinois-based Roy Strom Cos.;
  • Oregon, Illinois-based Big John;
  • Woodstock, Illinois-based Crown Restrooms and Arrow Septic and Sewer;
  • Janesville, Wisconsin-based Ace Portables;
  • Niles, Michigan-based Joy's Johns;
  • Kingston, Indiana-based Johnson Johns;
  • Milwaukee-based Commercial Rubbish Collection LLC;
  • Mauston, Wisconsin-based Clark Disposal;
  • Minneapolis-based Atomic Recycling;
  • North Branch, Minnesota-based Jimmy's Johnnys;
  • Monmouth Transfer Station from the City of Monmouth, Illinois; and
  • Seaton, Illinois-based Jackson Disposal.

In early September, Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP) V, an $6.9 billion unlisted infrastructure fund managed by Sydney-based Macquarie Asset Management (MAM), made an equity investment in LRS. The resulting ownership structure, LRS says, was designed to accelerate its growth trajectory and solidify its leadership position as the largest privately held waste, recycling and portable services provider in the Midwest and one of the largest in North America.