Growing his business from the ground up, Owner Chris Picciano prides himself on Area Disposal providing stellar customer service, creating a family of employees, and connecting with the community  he serves.

Area Disposal, based in Scottsdale, AZ, was created in 2001 by Chris Picciano. A chef and restauranteur by trade, he graduated from culinary school in upstate New York in 1976 and worked in restaurants in Long Island, NY, working his way from dishwasher, and on his days off learned other positions such as the coffee, bread, and dessert station. From there, he learned salads, pastas, pizzas, and when a position opened up, he would move up and learn the next position. “I’m from an Italian family and we are all well versed in the kitchen. My father and my grandfather—they did a lot with my mother, grandmother, and my aunts, and since I was five years old, I was learning. I still use that philosophy today. I try to be successful in everything that I do,” says Picciano. Moving to Arizona in 1983, he opened an Italian Continental restaurant in 1984 and took pride in his job for 15 years until it was time to move on. “I have friends back east and friends in Arizona and I noticed that when people get out of the hospitality industry, they are usually burned out. In the waste and recycling industry, there is a nice mentality that people recycle themselves. They can take time off, take vacations, there is camaraderie. When I was in the restaurant business, I started to feel like my life was going by and that is what made me make a change. It was time to move on. After I sold it., I was able to start Area Disposal, took on a partner in 2003, and I have been thriving ever since.”

In the beginning, Picciano was a one-man band. He purchased a 15-yard hooklift truck with roll-off containers and then customized them with his company color and stenciled the name on the side as well as the contact information. “After I put the truck together with the hooklifts and tarping systems, I took a roll-off container every day to where construction was being done. I got these little paper bags, put in shelled peanuts, folded over the top, and stapled my business cards to them. Then, I went around and found out who was in charge of the job and would hand them the bag of peanuts and introduce myself. Everyone was so excited about the bag of peanuts, and they would comment ‘no one gives away a bag of peanuts’ and I said ‘that shows how different I am. Here is my truck, my container, and when you have a job, think about me and I’ll show you the best service.’ Everything in this industry is about service. And after all these years, my cell phone number remains the main contact number and if someone calls me at 3am I answer the phone. Even early on, I had two identical trucks because if one of them broke down, I didn’t want to give any of my customers excuses, just results. Now, over 20 years later, I pride myself on that same thinking today.”


Area Disposal owner Chris Picciano stands in front of a truck they use to transport dumpster rentals to customers.
Photos courtesy of Area Disposal.


Currently, Area Disposal has 15 vehicles and 17 employees and picks up and processes curbside residential waste and recycling in Paradise Valley, just outside of Scottsdale. This includes Carefree, Cave Creek, Desert Hills, Black Canyon City, and Tonto Hills (all areas north of Phoenix). Not only does Area Disposal pick up MSW and household waste, but they also work with a lot of contractors and homeowners who require their services, and many are loyal customers who have worked with Area Disposal over the years. “I went where there was a lot of action going on in the beginning, starting with only 15-yard roll-offs and my customers enjoyed the service. They would talk to me, and I found out exactly what they needed and I provided that for them. My business grew and I started picking up bigger jobs. Whatever request I got, I accommodated; no excuses, just results and customer service. Then I went into residential, and I grew my business in those areas,” says Picciano.

He goes on to explain that the city of Scottsdale picks up the trash and recyclables and residents are charged through the utility bill. He does not try to compete with that, so he will go into the areas that do not have municipal pickup, but rather private subscription, and prides himself on giving personalized service. “I want my people to take their time. I want them to stop and talk to someone if they are walking their dog down the street. If the cart tips over at any point during pickup, they will get out of the truck and stand it upright. We must leave the street better than when we got here. I explain this to all my employees on a consistent basis. I grew up on the streets of New York and those street smarts have probably served me better than my formal education—knowing what to do, how to do it, and how to say it. People have to like you to do business with you and I instill this in my drivers. In turn, people advertise for us and that helps us grow. I still have the same cell phone number I started with. My partner, Frank, who is Vice President of the company, and I still have our CDLs, so if we have to get in the truck, we have that ability if it means having the best service, we stand behind that.”

Thriving Through Challenges

During COVID, Area Disposal’s business ultimately picked up because as Picciano points out, many people were eating and working at home, creating more waste. The company never closed the office, and they never missed a day of pickup. With his biggest concern being how they were going to keep everyone safe, he made it a priority to talk to his drivers every day and tell them to wash their hands, social distance, and if you talk to someone wear a mask, etc. “I instilled in them to make sure that what they were doing at work was the same at home. The whole time, there was only one driver that got COVID, and we were able to do everything that was necessary. No one lost any service. It was scary time, though, because COVID was new to us and the last time the country went through something like that was the Spanish flu.” While commercial pickup did decrease a little, a few weeks later they were back at work. “We had a slowdown on some jobs, but not a complete hit. I didn’t charge anyone a fee for going overtime on a roll-off container because we wanted to take care of our customers and let them know that we understood what they were going through as well. That is just part of customer service as far as I’m concerned. I tell people that you can call me 24 hours a day seven days a week and ask me anything. I’ll answer them immediately and honestly.”

One of the challenges today that Picciano deals with from time-to-time is startup companies coming out to the Phoenix and trying to get business by ‘giving away the farm’ to try and get established. “I never did that. I always gave a legitimate fair price right at the beginning. So, I have seen many come and go. Sometimes that happens with the bigger companies as well. I am honest with my customers and tell them that we are already priced fairly and if you would like to change, that’s fine, but we are here for when you decide to use us again. Most times, they come back to our company. You don’t have to give away the farm if you provide great customer service.”


An Area Disposal truck unloads a dumpster of its truck bed. Area Disposal has been servicing Phoenix residents’ waste disposal needs since 2001.

Training and Safety Go Hand in Hand
Area Disposal ensures that training is done on a consistent basis. Even when a residential driver who has experience with automated side loaders is hired, they are still put through an onboard training process, so they can see the way Picciano wants them to work. “It is important for the driver to take his time on the job as well as take breaks and lunch. While the truck is warming up, he should be doing the pre-trip inspection and paperwork. At the end of the day, they fuel up the truck and do a post-trip inspection. Anything they see that’s a concern, they hand us paperwork, explain what the problem is, and by the next day, everything is fixed,” emphasizes Picciano. Safety meetings are also a part of the company’s daily protocol. “Not only do they have to drive safely, but they also have to anticipate what things can happen. I don’t want anybody going out with equipment that is not perfectly safe. It’s not worth it.”

There are certified mechanics at Area Disposal all doing different jobs. While Picciano worked on the maintenance tasks in the beginning, many of the repair tasks and knowledge has been passed on. “Many things have changed with the new refuse trucks. Now you have to be a computer technician with a laptop and the right programs in it. I have to hire professionals to do that. There are not mechanics anymore; it is technicians. It’s still evolving and it’s going to change because technology is always advancing,” he says.


A roll-off dumpster owned by Area Disposal. The trash removal and dumpster
company provides dumpster rentals to Phoenix Arizona metro area customers.


Taking Care of Employees and Community
Picciano knows that the human side is an important facet of the business and makes a point to connect with the community overall as well as take care of them when there are big events. Area Disposal donates carts for recyclables and trash when Carefree and Cave Creek’s big annual parade happens, as well as sister community events. “Whenever they have anything like that, they call us, and we donate roll-offs. If there is a rodeo taking place, we have signs that point to the roll-off boxes and receptacles up there to handle all the waste. Programs with directions to them go to all the people and we advertise in there so everyone can see us. Plus, the announcers will call us out.”

“Because Area Disposal is a smaller company, we can understand all of our customers’ concerns as they are going on since we talk to them on a constant basis, and they know we have very little turnover over here. We take care of our people. Sometimes the group gets together after work for a meal and we also have a company Christmas party. We try to make everyone feel like part of the family. But we also know that they have families and things they need to do outside of work, so if they have an event, we don’t have a problem giving them the time off. In turn, the employee knows that if we request something of them, they will accommodate us as well. I know I can’t do this without them—we take care of them, and they take care of us. That is how you keep people,” he says.

Looking Ahead
Continues Picciano, “Ultimately, the business is growing, which shows that I am doing things the right way. I made it through the hard times. At times, I had questions of whether I would be able to sustain the storm, but I did. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. I’m going to be 68, but I feel like I’m 38. I want people to remember that no one ever gave them the personalized service that I provided all these years and that will be the feather in my cap.” | WA

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