Garbologist: Our Business is Picking Up–Evolution of the Garbage Collection Industry in Oregon

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Gary Goodman of Prineville (Gary the Garbologist) has published a book on the evolution of the garbage collection industry in Oregon, Our Business is Picking Up. Of particular interest to Central Oregon are chapters on Bend Garbage and Recycling and the Baileys who are leaders in the industry.  Other Central Oregon hauler stories include the Orcutts in Madras and the Goodmans in Prineville.

Goodman is the former owner of Prineville Disposal, Inc. and says he has observed the evolution of the solid waste disposal business since 1957, first in Portland and then in Prineville.  The book is about 175 pages and starts with the first garbage collectors (Romans), and focuses on the development in Oregon.

“Most people are surprised at the complexity of the business, from the role of the feds and DEQ in shaping policy, to the mom and pop startups that are increasingly selling out to the national corporations–and why,” explains Goodman.

Bend Garbage & Recycling
Goodman gives you a history of Bend Garbage & Recycling founded by Bruce Bailey and now shares ownership of the company with his son Brad and son-in-law Chris Crownover.

“Bruce was born in 1948 in Marin County, California and his family moved to Roseburg when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in general science and an interest in Public health, his first job as in Santa Rosa, California as a county sanitarian. He moved to Roseburg in 1962 to work as a county sanitarian with an emphasis in solid waste and in 1967 joined the Oregon State Board of Health.

“In 1968 he met Joe and John Chotard operating Bend Garbage Co. and the city’s landfill. Bruce says, ‘I was doing landfill operator training for the state as well as proving technical assistance and really like Joe and Bend…it is where my love affair with family garbage collection companies began and appreciate for the comradery they shared.'”

Bruce became director of solid waste for Lane County and helped author the land mark Solid Waste Management 1969 Status Report. He continued his work in sanitation at Sanipac Salem’s Bill Schlitt Jr’s Sanitary Service Co. Finally in 1985 he was able to assume the operation of Bend Garbage Co. As the company grew Brad joined the team after earning an engineering degree from Oregon Institute of Technology. Chris, who had gained truck routing experience at Eugene Laundry, also became part of the company.

The company has expanded to include Bend Recycling Team’s process facility, High Country Disposal in Redmond, C.O. Environmental Service, Deschutes Recycling and Sisters commercial and residential collection.

Madras Sanitary Service
Oliver “Ollie” and Janelle Orcutt purchased the Madras garbage collection route in 1976. “When we bought the route it came with three trucks: two rear loaders that worked a a side loader that had literally been put out to pasture….”

The couple faced a lot of challenges with the equipment they purchased, but learned how to fix everything themselves. In 1979 they bought their first new rear loader along with six containers and began mechanizing the operation.

In the early 1990s when the DEQ shut down the Madras landfill, the county buildt a public transfer station near the closed landfill and MSS built their own private transfer station next to the county’s but that site was also closed down. Since then they’ve had to use the Wasco County Landfill in The Dalles.

Today, the Orcutt’s daughter, Melanie Widmer, and her husband Sid have taken the reins. The MSS office and truck shop were relocated to the airport industrial area after the Orcutts had worked nearly 20 years out of their house. The service area now includes Metolius, Culver, Madras and most of Jefferson County.

Prineville Disposal
Gary Goodman and his wife, Sally, purchased the Prineville garbage business in 1977 from Marvin and Enola Jackson. “When we moved there the major industries were logging and milling the vast stands of Ponderosa Pine and there were six saw mills running two shifts a day. It seemed that the town would always have a solid industrial base until the 1982-83 recession hit the national home construction industry really hard. When the county’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 25 percent and many of our customers moved away I thought we had lost our financial nest egg.”

In 1985 Goodman convinced the county court to turn over the landfill operation to private enterprise. “For the next ten years during a time when many smaller landfills across the state were closing due to tightening governmental regulations, I often worked seven days a week managing the collection and landfill businesses.” In 1995 he decided to turn the landfill back to the county and built his own transfer station.

Prineville Disposal grew from about 600 customers to several thousand customers, almost 20 trucks and 18 employees over a thirty year span. The Goodmans sold the business to their daughter Emily and her husband Steve Holliday in 2007. “They have made many improvements and weathered the ‘great recession’ so their decision making has made us proud.”

All proceeds from Goodman’s book goes to charity.
Gary M. Goodman
Our Business is Picking Up
hardrockranch1@hotmail.com

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