A local group of family-owned trash haulers has struck an agreement to sell their businesses to a large Fontana-based company looking to take over a contract with Bakersfield and a Kern County franchise for picking up garbage, recycling, green and organic waste.
The terms of a sale agreement finalized Oct. 1 were not disclosed. No changes are expected in local residential or commercial service or rates, and the owner of the proposed buyer, Burrtec Waste Industries Inc., said he does not anticipate personnel changes in the organizations.
The businesses being sold are Howard's Garbage Service Inc., Lamont Sanitation Inc., Mountainside Disposal Inc., Price Disposal Inc., Superior Sanitation Service Inc., Varner Bros. Inc. and Varner & Son Inc., plus two aggregate companies, Kern Refuse Disposal Inc. and Metropolitan Recycling Corp.
No money will change hands unless the county Board of Supervisors approves a new franchise agreement with Burrtec. No such action is required by city government, which nevertheless is reviewing the deal.
The cost and disruption of upcoming regulations is the main reason the local haulers wanted to sell, said their delegated representative, Larry Moxley, president of Kern Refuse. He said a large company like Burrtec is better positioned to face the looming changes.
Privately held Burrtec has expanded across Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties partly through acquisitions like these, owner Cole Burr said. The company has substantial experience in composting and using digesters to process green waste.
Burr has long known the owners of the businesses he's buying, and he said their employees are the kind of "good, hardworking people" he's always in need of. There will be no consolidating of routes or layoffs, he said, adding there's no shortage of work to be done.
"They'll see the same driver," he said of what local customers can expect.
A state law taking effect Jan. 1 requires removal of organic material from commercial and residential waste streams. Apart from that is an upcoming requirement that waste haulers convert their fleets to electric.
Moxley, speaking on behalf of the owners selling, said they were daunted by the upcoming operational changes, not to mention the additional bureaucracy and accounting.
"We had to make a business decision based on the regulations were changing, how we do business and the cost of doing business and meeting all those new regulations," he said.
Moxley said an application was filed with the county Oct. 6 and that there's no indication how soon it might come to a vote of the board.
County Public Works Director Craig Pope said he doesn't know much about the deal other than an intent to sell.
Moxley said the companies are in the process of notifying the city of the ownership change in expectation of a contract transfer agreement.
"We have no expectation that there will be any issue with the city and the county," he said.
The city has had a contract with Kern Refuse since 1967, when Kern Refusal was incorporated. It covers 49 percent of Bakersfield's waste hauling, including half its curbside bulky-item pickups, and the remaining 51 percent is done by the city.
City spokesman Joseph Conroy said the companies have a strong history of providing high-quality services and collaborating with the city. He predicted that will continue through the proposed transition, and that the city does not anticipate any changes in customer service.
"The city will ensure that the customers are the priority consideration," he said.