A longtime Okanagan company is getting a makeover, starting with some new faces at the helm.
Okanagan Waste Removal is now Appleton Waste Services, under the ownership of Rock Appleton and his son David.
The company began operations 26 years ago, and was purchased in 1991 by Ulf Hasselbach and Janet Groome. But last month, the company changed hands for a third time, gaining its new name in the process.
“We saw a niche down here. Rock has lived here for years, and I have been looking to move back to B.C. so I got together with my dad,” said David, who is in the process of moving his family from Edmonton.
“I am third generation in the business. Rock’s father-in-law, my mother’s father, was in the business back in the ‘60s with BFI.”
Rock said he had already been considering possibilities after he left Waste Services Inc., one of the largest players in the waste removal sector, including Hasselbach’s company.
“I was looking at this opportunity two years ago. It took about 10 days and we ended up owning it,” said Rock. “Our heads are still kind of spinning.”
Having worked for them, the Appletons admit that competing with the big companies who hold the majority of contracts in the Summerland to Osoyoos region they plan to offer services in will be a challenge.
“We’re familiar with the industry. We’re now a local company. We still have the Summerland location that we are working out of, in addition to Okanagan Falls,” said Rock, adding that they plan to continue Okanagan Waste’s history of customer service.
“We certainly are service-oriented and can provide very responsive service and a fair, economical competitive price. We don’t have the overhead that the big companies do,” said Rock, adding that being small, with just a handful of employees, makes it easier for them to be flexible.
“I’ve been managing for years, but I’ve never been afraid to go out and drive. I know all the equipment and so does my son. We’re small, we’re not a corporate entity, we don’t sit in the office barking orders, we go out and do it.”
They also hope to clean up the image of the waste removal industry, with the purchase of a new truck sporting a wrap-around decal featuring an Okanagan vista. Those same decals will also be on some of their containers as well.
“A big thing for us is image,” said David, adding that they are in the process of getting existing equipment refurbished, and waiting for a brand-new front-end lift truck to arrive.
And though they are thinking of adding organic waste pickup to their list, Rock said their general target markets hasn’t changed.
“Just regular businesses. Moms and pops, and the Staples of the world. The local grocery stores, liquor stores, they all have those containers in the back,” said Rock.
“We are the local guys now,” added David. “For 20 years I think people have been asking for a local option, especially to the south. Now they’ve got an option.”