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Rochester Top 100: Rapid growth creates opportunities, issues

Rochester Business Journal
March 11, 2016

Michael Hess has built his company by helping clients streamline. His success has led to so much expansion that one of his challenges is to manage all the areas of growth.

“We’re running 100 miles an hour. We are certainly experiencing some growing pains. But that’s a good thing,” said Hess, president and CEO of Waste Harmonics LLC.

The Victor, Ontario County-based waste management consolidation service launched in 2001. It operates as a single point of contact and service for its customers by contracting refuse haulers and managing all invoicing.

Customers with multiple sites appreciate the efficiency of a single invoice with the added assurance of accuracy guaranteed by auditing for errors performed by Waste Harmonics, Hess said.

The company has seen double-digit revenue growth in the past year.

Revenue for 2013 was $14.8 million, rising to $19.7 million in 2014 and to $33.6 million in 2015.

Hess expects the growth to continue, projecting a revenue increase of 50 percent this year, half of which the company already has achieved, he said.

That growth will come from a strategy of sales as well as acquisitions. The company closed on its first acquisition Dec. 1 with the buyout of Consolidated Waste Management LLC, which had offices in Hartford, Conn., and Columbus, Ohio.

“The thing that drew us to them was that their three owners ran that business similar to the way we run ours, with a high focus on customer service,” Hess said.

Waste Harmonics absorbed all 10 of Consolidated’s employees as part of the deal, contributing half of the local firm’s employee growth last year.

The shared values between the two companies has been key as the new employees assimilate into their new positions at Waste Harmonics, said Mary Way, vice president of customer care.

“Getting people with a customer care focus is most important. We can teach software but customer care skills come from within,” Way said. “Michael always has the customer as the number one priority. As the company grows it becomes a bigger job to manage that. The more people here, the more difficult to maintain the culture.”

Way is marking her sixth year at Waste Harmonics. She joined the company as an administrative assistant and bookkeeper. Her promotion to vice president of customer care shows the value Hess places on employees as well as customers, she explained.

“As the company grew, I grew into my role. This is a company that develops its people and promotes from within,” she said.

The vendor relations and customer service teams, a total of nine employees, report to Way.

There are a total of 35 employees at Waste Harmonics, and the company has seen a significant increase over the last three years, rising to 33 in 2015 from 14 in 2014 and 11 in 2013.

Employee growth will continue in 2016, Hess said, noting he expects to hire seven to 10 additional workers.

A major new position came in February with the hiring of Ann Blake as chief financial officer. Blake came to Waste Harmonics from American Rock Salt Holdings LLC.

There also are plans to add a full time marketing position. Other areas of focus are customer service and account management.

“There is potential to add one or two more to the sales staff but that’s not a primary focus,” Hess said. “First we will determine which market segments to chase.”

The company has locations in all 50 states, along with five Canadian providences and Guam.

Hess attributes much of the success of the company to Waste Management Inc.’s 2011 purchase of Oakleaf Global Holdings.

“When the largest hauler acquired the largest broker we just knew this would create turmoil and opportunity,” Hess said. “As a result we have been able to uncover the right opportunities at the right time, which has led to our amazing growth.”

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.

Waste Harmonics LLC
Brokering waste services throughout the United States and Canada
Year founded: 2001
Top executive: Michael Hess, president and CEO
Current employment: 35
2015 ranking: 7
Headquarters: Victor, Ontario County
Website: wasteharmonics.com

3/11/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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