Starting the company in 2001, John Jennings believed that providing premium customer service and investing in the best equipment would create an environment that attracts the best people in the industry. Now, his son Sean Jennings continues to build on the legacy as Waste Pro grows in 2023 and beyond.

Twenty-two years ago, John Jennings had a vision. A vision of a waste company that puts its people first and operates as an industry leader by providing a premium level of service while staying committed to the communities it serves. A company that offers its employees a lifelong career, great benefits, the ability to care for their families, and stays true to its family-run roots. Today, that vision has created a billion-dollar company, recognized as an industry disruptor providing its customers with services, known as the ‘Distinguishable Difference.’

Waste Pro employees learning and training in the company’s Co-Heart program to earn their commercial driver’s license. Images courtesy of Waste Pro.

A Brief History
John Jennings, the son of a garbage man, started his first waste collection company in Florida in 1973. By 1992, the company was renamed Jennings Environmental Services and was a leader in Central Florida through organic growth and acquisitions. Four years later, the company partnered with USA Waste Services, Inc., which acquired what is known today as WM. When John left with his executive team, Waste Pro was born.

What started with two trucks has grown to 90 operating facilities in a 10-state footprint with more than 4,400 dedicated employees and 2,900 state-of-the-art collection vehicles. In 2020, John’s son Sean has taken the helm of the company, and in his role as President and CEO, revenue has grown from $640 million to now $1.1 billion.

A Successful Business Model
Private ownership makes Waste Pro unique in its ability to expand operations and sustain consistent financial growth strategically and competitively. “Staying a privately owned, family-run company allows us to remain true to our culture and continue to provide a lifelong career to our Waste Pros,” says Sean, who now carries the legacy of leadership in the solid waste industry for a third generation.

The growth of Waste Pro over the last two decades has been organic and strategic, rapidly gaining market share and dominance. The continued increase year-over-year positions Waste Pro as one of the largest privately held waste and recycling companies in the U.S. and further exemplifies the viability and success of the business model.

“We do not answer to Wall Street. Our lean corporate structure and decentralized management enables the company to remain nimble and able to react quickly to our needs and the needs of the communities we serve. Many of our franchised municipal customers embraced this structure and seek out partnerships with Waste Pro because of our ability to pivot when needed, resulting in better service for their residents and local businesses,” Sean added.

Nine Waste Pro Employees were awarded a $10,000 bonus for 20 years of service to the company, which was founded in 2001 by John Jennings.

Challenges and Triumph
The company leadership has not only transitioned from founder John to his son, Sean, but also with the addition of a Future Leaders group. All Waste Pro leaders share the same vision of moving the company forward by embracing the Waste Pro Way and being the ‘Distinguishable Difference.’

The last few years have challenged the company’s success and longevity. Like all industries, solid waste companies throughout the nation navigated through unprecedented times including a global pandemic that exacerbated an already challenging labor and CDL-carrying driver market. Additional challenges surfaced in the form of a global supply chain shortage.

The focus of Waste Pro continues to remain on the safety of its people and the communities we serve. “Waste Pro is known as a people company, and with that in mind, we needed to ensure that our Waste Pros were confident in their long-term career home as well as find strategies to recruit new employees. We recognize the up-and-coming generation and collaborate to find new ways to retain our Waste Pros and attract a new generation of employees including a more diverse workforce,” says Keith Banasiak, Chief Operating Officer, and an 18-year Waste Pro and a community leader. The solid waste industry has always been known to be a male dominant workforce. Waste Pro looks to change that perception and sought out recruitment strategies specifically focused on females. The workforce is trending to more females in the waste industry and Waste Pro is proud to report that the Louisiana market is leading with 38 percent of drivers and helpers being females.

The importance of the people and safety partnership ultimately led John to create the coveted safety award in 2004. To date, Waste Pro has awarded $7.4 M in Safety Awards ($10,000 Driver and $5,000 Helper awards) to dedicated Waste Pros who place value on safety and service along with other key elements over a three-year period. In 2022, 91 drivers and 24 helpers earned more than $1M in Safety Awards.

Key Factors for Longevity
According to Harvard Business Review, for businesses to be successful and last 100 years, two key factors come into play. “First, they have a stable core or an unchanging organizational purpose. As part of this, many of the organizations that last 100 years seek to engage society. They look for leaders who will last 10 years or more, and their leadership transitions usually involve a one-year overlap between outgoing and incoming leaders. The second step is to have a disruptive edge. Balancing the radical and the traditional helps them stay on top, decade after decade.” Waste Pro embraced this philosophy as it continues its journey to becoming a 100-year company.

“I have the privilege of leading some of the brightest and best in the industry. Some of whom have been with Waste Pro since day one. When my father started this company in 2001, he knew and believed that providing premium customer service and investing in the best equipment would create an environment that attracts the best people in the industry. He laid the foundation, and we continue to build as we grow in 2023 and beyond,” said Sean.

The Next Chapter
Over the past 22 years, Waste Pro has been proud to be recognized by local, state, and national organizations, receiving numerous awards and accolades within the waste industry and beyond, including 3rd Largest Privately Owned Company, 3rd Largest Family-Owned Company in Central Florida, and 4th Largest Privately Owned waste service firm in the U.S. However, Waste Pro has not lost sight of its most important reward: serving millions of communities and businesses. Ask anyone from the drivers, helpers, administrative services, or customer service, and they will tell you the philosophy that defines Waste Pro’s culture is the people, “People make the difference and caring never goes to waste. It is the Waste Pro Way.” | WA

For more information, contact Tracy Meehan, Corporate Communications Director, at (407) 869-8800 or e-mail [email protected].