Executive Q&A: US Ecology CEO Jeff Feeler

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December 4, 2019

US Ecology Inc., Boise, Idaho, made waves when it announced June 24 that it had entered into a definitive merger agreement with Houston-based NRC Group Holdings Corp. (NRCG). US Ecology CEO Jeff Feeler talked with Waste Today about the implications of the $966 million deal that officially closed Nov. 1 and discussed what it means for the company’s operations moving forward.

Waste Today (WT): Can you give some background on your engagement with NRCG leadership leading up to the deal?

Jeff Feeler (JF): We have always respected NRC’s operations, leadership and company values. Once we realized the holding company was looking for a sale, things moved rather quickly given the high level of alignment between the two companies, our complementary product offerings and our similar cultures. Both companies maintain similar value systems and focus on investing in our people for long-term success. Our shared values begin with a steadfast focus on safety and compliance and delivering unequaled service excellence. This alignment in values allowed us to quickly move forward together to deliver even more value to our customers as a combined market leader.

WT: Can you talk about the new assets at your disposal made available courtesy of the NRC deal and what this means for your company?

JF: The new and combined assets from the merger help solidify US Ecology’s expanded leadership in delivering specialty and industrial waste services. This merger supports US Ecology’s vision of becoming the premier provider of comprehensive environmental services by adding marine- and land-based emergency response and standby network capabilities. As one of only two nationally recognized oil spill response organizations (OSRO) in North America, US Ecology will now generate a recurring, compliance-driven revenue stream from helping provide services for spill events.

The acquisition also adds over 50 additional service sites that provide emergency response, light industrial services and waste handling to drive recurring base business through US Ecology’s national service network. The merger adds high-quality specialty waste landfill disposal assets specifically designed and permitted to serve energy-related waste streams and an expanding scale of key service verticals that drive volume to US Ecology’s fixed facilities. Our expanded geographical footprint now allows US Ecology to provide even more field services such as retail, lab pack, less-than-truckload and other small quantity waste solutions to new and existing customers.

WT: What are the challenges and opportunities you see moving into new business segments with the NRC merger, specifically the marine and exploration and production (E&P) industry?

JF: Given the strengths and market position NRC has in the marine compliance and standby sector, and their expertise in energy waste disposal service, we see tremendous opportunities to broaden our offerings and expand our value proposition to customers. NRC’s position in the market aligns with our goal of being a leader in all our core industry segments.

WT: How do you get up to speed learning these new markets, the customers involved and other nuances of unfamiliar businesses?

JF: The experience and expertise the NRCG team brings to US Ecology is tremendous. This knowledge base was a primary reason for the merger. Many of their customers were already US Ecology customers, which helped the transition and communication process. Leveraging this expertise of the existing team, combined with our knowledge of managing other specialty waste streams and landfill disposal, brings new views and best practices to this segment of their vast service offerings.

WT: How might US Ecology leverage NRC’s resources to improve your company’s efficiencies and offerings? 

JF: The ability to take waste that was formerly sent to other disposal companies, and now direct it to US Ecology facilities, is an attractive opportunity. Leveraging NRC’s extensive service network will also enable us to more quickly and cost effectively build out our field and industrial services network.

WT: How do you see this merger enabling further growth of the company?

JF: I am incredibly excited about our new team members’ expertise and what they will contribute to the overall success and direction of our company. We are adding significant new skillsets and knowledge to our team. Landfill assets, service networks, marine compliance, emergency response and industrial service assets brought into the company position us to grow and be capable of driving even more long-term development in the future.