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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Starting with small clients

Poole reveals the important role contracts with small towns played in creating a successful enterprise. These smaller towns, eager to unload the burden of waste management, helped create momentum toward privatization of the business.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lonnie Poole, March 22, 1999. Interview I-0085. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: I can see the point. Let me ask to focus sort of late '70s. Company's been up and running for five plus years. What are the market place dynamics in which you're operating and how is it that waste industries is emerging as a successful growing company when lots of these other 14,000 are fading away? There's a consolidation process I suppose even as early as that or not quite yet? LP: Yeah, by the late '70s we had not acquired a lot of companies. Our primary means of growing was through bidding on contracts and simply knocking on doors. We had put a couple of sales people in place. But it was no, not the consolidation. As far as what were the dynamics, a lot of the little towns were beginning to believe that privatization of their solid waste function really was the way to go. We took on our first one and to provide residential collection in 1973. Still have that contract and it's in the town of Oxford. JM: I'm sorry, Oxford? LP: Oxford, North Carolina. But it gets back to, the market dynamics would be the economy of scale. When a town has just a very few houses, they wind up with fractional trucks and fractional people. We on the other hand were doing more than one town, so we gained the economy of scale that was being achieved by the larger cities. We could find out and understand the cost of the things by getting involved in the larger cities trying to get their work. But where it really paid off for us was in the really small towns. Small towns it was a headache anyway. So if they could get rid of the old truck they had and the people, and in many cases we offered the people the jobs and bought their old trucks. So that's where the collection thing was beginning to really take effect and do us some good.