Daily Disposal Services
Todd Ottonello • 619-702-3300
In the early years of his business, Todd Ottonello,
then a sophomore in college, would sit in the back of a classroom
with 200 other students and talk to drivers on his cell phone.
Later, he and his brother, Nick, then a college freshman, hired
someone to run the office while they were in school.
Ottonello wasn’t new to the waste business, though. His father
had worked in the business, as had his father before him. Ottonello
had started working in the industry as soon as he could get a
job, assembling bins and doing odd jobs. “As soon as I turned
18, I got my commercial license,” he said.
But unlike some family businesses, Ottonello didn’t inherit his
business; he and his brother started it from the ground up. He
had been working for a waste hauler while he was in college,
but declined to stay on when that hauler was bought out by a
When the city of San Diego started taking applications for waste
franchises, Ottonello applied for one, and then applied for a
county franchise. He and his brother started the business in
1999 with one truck and driver, and have grown the business to
nearly 50 trucks and 60 employees.
Ottonello said that when he started the business, he was more
excited about that than about college, but his parents encouraged
him to stay in school. Both he and his brother finished school
with degrees in business administration while running and growing
Although Daily Disposal isn’t a generations-old business, the
name is a bit older. Ottonello’s grandfather had owned a waste
business with that name, and when he passed away, Ottonello’s
father, then about 19 years old, inherited the business, along
with an older sister. At the time, it was decided that selling
the business was the best option, and the business name continued.
In the 1980s the company that purchased the business let go of
the Daily Disposal name, so when Ottonello started his business
in the late 90s, the name was again available. So he took it.
And unlike family businesses where sons go to work for their
fathers, Ottenello’s father came to work for him after the business
was on its feet.
While Ottonello enjoys the dispatching, sales and administrative
work, his brother is “more focused on the mechanics of it.” With
that expertise, Ottonello said, “we do everything here in-house,
except transmissions,” with Ottonello’s brother supervising the
Ottonello’s first truck was a roll-off for commercial customers,
then he added on front-load commercial service. In January of
this year, the company started offering residential service.
To get new customers, Ottonello said, “We are going door to door.
We have over 1,000 houses already.”
With the current franchise arrangements, they can operate anywhere
within San Diego County, so he has plenty of doors to knock on,
and he hopes to triple the number of residential customers by
the end of the year.
While the company is now operating “on dirt with modular buildings,”
they have purchased a 5-acre property on asphalt, and have plans
for an 8,000 sq. ft. 2-story office space with a 12,000 sq. ft.
shop with 3 mechanic’s bays. In the future, Ottonello would like
to have his own transfer station, but for now he’s happy to have
permanent office space, a good shop, and room to park and fuel
Another thing he needs is a way to plug in his trucks, since
regulations require that his diesel waste hauling trucks have
diesel particulate filters that reduce emissions by up to 85
percent. Those require that the trucks be plugged in at night
to burn off the soot.
Ottonello said that when the regulations were first in place,
he had to have those filters installed on a smaller percentage
of his fleet, but now 100 percent of his trucks have the filters,
even though it’s a bit of a challenge to run 220-volt lines to
reach every parked truck.
Two of those trucks are a little bit special, Ottonello said.
A little larger than a pickup truck, they are mini roll-off trucks
that can haul 10-yard boxes. Those are ideal for customers who
need something larger than the 3-yard commercial boxes, but are
in locations where a larger roll-off truck can’t fit.
In the testing stages now is a new computerized system for in-truck
reporting, so that information goes immediately to the office.
Ottonello said that he would like to add in-truck printers to
the system as well, so drivers could give customers cleanly printed
tickets instead of hand-written ones.
But the business isn’t all about the equipment. Ottonello stressed
that at his office phone calls don’t get automatically routed
to voicemail, and that a live person can answer customer questions.
And because the company is small and the owners are hands-on,
“we can make a quick decision.” Ottonello said. “We can hire
someone right away,” if that’s what’s needed to improve service.
He’s even more proud that his company’s growth has been about
“go get ‘em sales” rather than by acquiring other companies,
and that the increase in customers has been “organic, natural,
At the end of the day, Ottonello said that his favorite thing
is to watch the trucks come rolling back in and fueling up for
the next day.