SEPTEMBER 2009

A Closer Look E-mail the author

Castaway Trash Haulers
Jay Gardner • 775-342-2444

Jay Gardner, sales manager for Castaway Trash Haulers in Nevada, explained that “most everybody here” used to work together at another waste hauler. That local company was bought out by a national waste hauler, and some of the employees didn’t like the new corporate culture.

Spike Duke wasn’t one of the people working for the waste company, but his wife was. He saw the opportunity, started a new, smaller company, and started making calls to people who could staff his new business. Gardner was one of those people who got the call and who was with the company “since before the beginning” in March of 2003.

Gardner said that the business started with just two trucks, but that for each of the first four years, the company grew by 100 percent before it settled into a more moderate rate. Now, after over six years in business, the company has a dozen collection trucks, and about 25 employees.

Even so, he said “it hasn’t changed a lot.” The business is bigger, but the business philosophy is the same – to be “faster, better, cleaner, cheaper” than the competition. Gardner said that for the customers, “They know that when they call us, we’ll be there.” Most pickups are done within two to three hours of the call, but that it’s “absolutely guaranteed same day. We do what we say we’re going to do.”

As far as being better, Gardner said that about two years ago, “Spike took on two more partners” adding to the services that the company can provide. The partners are involved in portable toilets, fencing and site services, which are often the first services contracted for at a construction or demolition site. When it’s time to look for a waste hauler, the customers don’t need to contract with a different company.

Castaway is serious about being cleaner than you’d expect a waste hauler to be. All the trucks are purchased new instead of used, and each truck is washed every Saturday by an outside service. Drivers are expected to clean inside the cab of the truck every day, and are given all the cleaning products they need to get the job done. The cleaning is done during working hours, so there is no excuse for having a dirty truck.

Besides the regular washing, the trucks get a thorough detailing every 12 weeks. All of the aluminum is polished and the paint is touched up as needed. Gardner said that he knows people notice – he’s had people notice the name on his work shirt and comment that they’ve seen how good the trucks look.

Besides keeping the trucks themselves clean, the company has spent money on automatic hydraulic tarpers for the roll-offs, so that the drivers don’t have to get up on the trucks to tarp the loads. It keeps the drivers safer, and keeps the loads contained on the road.

As far as being cheaper, Gardner said that it’s not always possible, and that it takes some expertise to manage the waste in the most efficient manner. “The solid waste business is pretty technical,” he said. “Sort, recycle, re-use.” So, besides hauling trash, the company also handles recycling for customers, including a local school district. The recyclables go to a nearby recycler. “We’re just the haulers,” Gardner explained. “If you focus on one aspect of a business, you can get good at it.”

Gardner said that although a lot of the business’s market share was tied to the construction business, “we’re still expanding.” Besides handling standard waste and recyclables, the company is a licensed asbestos hauler. He explained that in Nevada, asbestos is classified as a special waste, but in California, it is considered a hazardous waste, so if it’s generated in California, it has to stay there, and Castaway can make it happen.

The company also contracts for special events, and Gardner said that Nevada has a lot of them, some of them more interesting than others. For example, he said, “We’ve signed up to do the Burning Man event.” The Burning Man event has a zero-trace policy for its attendees, who strive to avoid polluting.