Waste Management CEO talks company growth, new tech

Waste Management CEO talks company growth, new tech

Waste Management CEO Jim Fish talked about the company’s recent growth in a Jan. 23 report.

January 24, 2018
Edited by Adam Redling
Hauling Landfills Mergers and Acquisitions Municipal Recycling Municipal Solid Waste

Waste Management CEO Jim Fish talked to the TheStreet about the company’s recent growth in a Jan. 23 report.

Business is booming for the Houston-based waste and recycling company. Third-quarter net sales and adjusted earnings for the company rose by 4.8 percent and 7 percent, respectively, from the previous year. Shares of Waste Management have also increased by 50 percent over the last two years on the S&P 500.

"Part of what jazzes me up over the next five to 10 years is that we have a great business model. Recycling and trash don't go away, it is a business that has such a great presence," Fish tells TheStreet. "It may not be the sexiest business in the world, it's not building jet airlines or an Apple or a Google, but investors don't really care if it's sexy."

Fish also talks about how the company plans to grow in the future by leveraging new technology—something that the industry as a whole can do a better job of, he notes.

“Everybody talks about technology, but this industry has been technology light,” Fish tells TheStreet. “It's an opportunity for us. We are thinking about what the next generation of recycling plants look like. Does autonomy within the heavy truck industry, does that come to bare in our industry? And then what does the next generation of landfills look like, how do we replace them?”

Fish notes that Waste Management’s investment in technology will likely translate to the first autonomous test vehicle being used at one of its recycling plants this year. Autonomous hauling trucks are further off, Fish states, mentioning how government regulation stands in the way of imminent adoption. As for replacing landfills, Fish notes that that is an issue Waste Management won’t have to worry about for 50 years due to the size and volume of their land holdings. However, it is something the company is already thinking about.

“When a landfill closes, you can't necessarily find an adjacent piece of property,” Fish tells TheStreet. “You have to go to either develop a new technology, which we are really looking worldwide for, [rather] than just lining a landfill and putting waste in there and collecting gas. We are trying to find less land-intensive solutions.”

As part of the company’s growth plan, Fish said that the Waste Management will continue to pursue acquisition opportunities both large and small.

“Well, we would like to do [bigger acquisitions],” Fish tells TheStreet. “Most of what we have done has been small deals. We haven't done anything bigger than $500 million, not because we don't have the balance sheet, or desire, it's just that we need to find the right company. I think you will continue to see us do acquisitions ranging from $2 million to good sized ones. We have to make sure we find the right company.”