In for the Long Haul
Independent waste hauler LRS makes safety, innovation and community the keys to continued growth and success
LRS (recently rebranded from Lakeshore Recycling Systems) has been around for over 20 years and is currently the fifth largest privately held independent waste hauler in the country (and first in the Midwest) with a presence in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa. But while growth has been the name of the game, the company stands strong due to its unwavering commitment to serving customers in an agile, sustainable and responsible way.
Having started in Chicago in 1999, LRS “really hit the ground running in 2012” says Meaghan Johnson, Vice President of Marketing. She explains, “We merged two companies, Recycling Systems Inc. and Lakeshore Waste Services, and that combination really set us on the path to tremendous growth.”
Part of that success can be attributed to the fact that the same management team is in place, providing expertise and consistency to the markets it serves. Under the leadership of CEO Alan Handley, LRS has experienced organic growth in excess of 75% and has successfully executed 16 acquisitions in the last 48 months. With an employee base of 1,400 and an asset base of 29 facilities, LRS generates approximately $350 million in revenue annually.
In addition to Handley, the founders of the original companies—Rich Golf and Jerry Golf of Recycling Systems Inc. and Joshua Connell of Lakeshore Waste Services—are also on the current executive team as managing partners. Johnson notes, “The great thing about that is they’re all very local leaders and that’s one of our big differentiators. We’re still local at heart, even though we have grown into six different states.”
Being local while maintaining an industry leadership role in various areas allows LRS to stay nimble in the marketplace. Johnson explains, “Because we are local, we’re able to make very quick decisions. The customer experience is always at the forefront of our minds and we ensure things are done safely, efficiently and that we’re a part of the community.”
Recycle and Repurpose
A sustainability approach is yet another unique aspect of LRS’ business model. “No matter what we’re doing,” says Johnson, “whether it is recycling or if it’s collecting construction and demolition (C&D) materials from customers, we always try to have as much diversion as possible. For example, when we collect a dumpster from a construction site, we usually take that to one of our facilities and sort out any materials that are considered recyclable, whether it’s bricks, asphalt or cardboard pieces; all of that is able to be recycled and repurposed.” According to the LRS team, the company is able to take out about 80% of material for construction jobs to be recycled, and approximately 40% for residential and commercial waste.
With a range of services, including roll-off dumpsters, commercial containers, street sweeping, porta-potties (construction, special events and deluxe restroom trailers), on-site storage container rentals and environmentally friendly mulch, LRS is consistently looking to live up to its mission to become “the safest, most innovative waste recycler in the world by redefining the way the world views waste.”
Community at the Core
Johnson elaborates, noting that in the current day-to-day operations, the LRS team prioritizes exceeding the customer experience with an eye to the future and how they can be innovative in offering cutting-edge services. “It’s not just about collecting waste and recycling, and that’s it,” she says. “We’re always looking for how we can define the industry and how we can really make sure that we continue to benefit the areas we serve, whether through our business or through community involvement. The community is really our core identity. That’s where we want to be.”