Lisa McKenna

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Building on success

Cover Story

Southern Waste Systems leverages its experience in the C&D recycling sector to add new services and expand its Florida footprint.

January 15, 2015

Florida’s Southern Waste Systems (SWS) seems to have the construction & demolition (C&D) recycling business down to a science. Now, building on that success, this Davie, Florida-based recycling company continues to branch out in C&D and into other industry sectors, leveraging the substantial resources the company has built over the years.

The company began its work hauling and recycling Florida’s C&D debris with an eye for marketability, high-quality products and a zero-waste mentality.

Today, after continued expansions and integration, those efforts have been brought to and shared with the municipal solid waste (MSW) and other recycling sectors.

Along the way, the company has built and solidified its reputation as a large-scale hauling, waste and recycling company in the C&D recycling sector since it was founded in 1999 with one location and 30 employees in Pompano Beach, Florida, dedicated to the collection, hauling and processing of C&D debris.

During the 15 years that have followed, SWS and affiliated company Sun Recycling have expanded their reach and footprint throughout the southeast corridor of South Florida. Now, with 13 locations and more than 700 employees spanning six counties, SWS is a formidable presence as the state’s largest C&D processing company in terms of facilities and a key participant in the municipal waste and single-stream recycling sectors.
 

Decades of experience

SWS’ 15-year Florida presence is certainly admirable, but the company’s history goes back much further than that. Cofounders Anthony Lomangino, the company’s chairman, and his nephew Charlie Gusmano, president and CEO, each have more 30 years of experience in the waste and recycling industry, working their way up through the ranks over the past decades to help build and manage a major recycling and waste management company in the Northeast.

When Lomangino moved to the South Florida market to open SWS in 1999, he asked his nephew to join him in opening the business.

“Beyond the incredible personal respect I have for Charlie, he was a key architect in the growth and success of our integrated hauling and facilities model,” Lomangino observes. “His business acumen and strong leadership qualities have been instrumental in building one of the strongest teams in our industry.”

Today, the company is co-owned by Lomangino, Gusmano and Charlie Lomangino, Anthony’s son, who merged his own company into SWS in 2009. Along with being a key player in the operation and strategic growth of SWS and Sun Recycling, Charlie Lomangino serves as general manager, responsible for the operations of the collection and hauling business.

In the C&D sector SWS has worked to both diversify its product offerings and to be a singular market presence. Gusmano describes it as a facilities-based strategy with integrated hauling, material processing and recycling. He says he believes that owning processing facilities provides SWS with a defendable market position and competitive cost structure.

This belief is plainly evident in the company’s growth and activity in the C&D and MSW sectors, in which the company has built a network of strategically located facilities and processing yards capable of recycling the materials to SWS’ high standards.

Over the years, the company expanded from a single C&D recycling facility in Pompano Beach, at first processing at a rate of around 10 yards per employee per hour, to adding five more C&D processing yards in the Florida cities of West Palm Beach, Lantana, Pompano, Davie and Dania. The company also operates a yard waste processing center in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

SWS serves customers in six Florida counties through these C&D facilities: Palm Beach, Miami Dade, Broward, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin.

The company’s mixed C&D processing yards can handle all C&D materials, Gusmano says, including wood, metals, concrete, brick, wallboard, rocks, soil, cardboard, plastics, trees and other vegetative matter. And they are equipped to handle a volume of 20 yards per man-hour of C&D and yard waste. Furthermore, Gusmano says extensive research and development in recycling technologies and equipment has allowed SWS to achieve some of the highest recycling rates in the industry: up to 90 percent of the C&D debris the company collects, in a state where the recycling rate, including for C&D material, is expected to reach 75 percent by 2020.

On that point, Gusmano notes that many Florida counties and communities have in fact put more focus on C&D recycling considering the large percentage of the waste stream C&D represents.

SWS has developed a variety of recycled commodities from processed C&D materials, such as a fuel and ground cover product made from wood and yard waste. In addition, SWS can provide these recycled aggregate products back to building sites where they were collected.

One of the products is a crushed, screened 1 1/2-minus to 1/4-inch aggregate which is used as a base for parking lots, driveways, concrete slabs and roads. The company’s 1/4-inch minus product is used for paver stones or as a top base.

SWS also sells a proprietary concrete aggregate product, sold under the name Greenfil, which is the company’s version of the traditional No. 2 recovered screened material (RSM).

Gusmano says this homogenized product is suitable for a variety of building projects, such as adding elevation on golf courses or providing noise abatement for berms in residential communities. He points out that Florida’s regulations on RSM are tougher than most. One of them calls for RSM to be three-quarter-inch-minus material, however Greenfil is a half-inch-minus product.

“Our recycling processes are so involved and so much more expensive than most,” says Gusmano. “The material really is a better grade of RSM.”

Earning recognition

The Sun Recycling division of Southern Waste Systems (SWS), Davie, Florida, has won several awards for its leadership in recycling processes designed to preserve Florida’s environment.

Over the years SWS and its officers have been honored with a long list of awards and special recognitions for their service to the country, the industry and the community.

Most recently, SWS and Sun Recycling were awarded the 2014 National C&D Recycler of the Year Award from the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association, based in Aurora, Illinois.

The company has been honored with Enterprise Florida’s 2010 Governor’s Business Diversification Award in the Green to Gold category. The award is for Florida companies or organizations that best exemplify green leadership in reference to the state’s goals.

Recycle Florida Today, a recycling organization, honored SWS with its 2011 Recycling and Waste Reduction Award in the category for Outstanding Institution/Business.

Chairman Anthony Lomangino is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, awarded by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. In January of 2013, Lomangino also received the Outstanding Business Leader Award from Florida’s Northwood University. He was also selected for the inaugural class of the 2013 C&D Recycling Hall of Fame, presented by the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association.

And in April 2012, President and CEO Charles Gusmano was the recipient of the South Florida Business Journal’s Palm Beach County Ultimate CEO Award.

Vice President of Marketing Patti Hamilton was appointed to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women and currently serves on the commission’s executive committee.

Another of SWS’ concrete aggregate products, widely referred to throughout the industry as “57 rock,” has found great success in the equestrian community where it is used as a drainage base in equestrian competition arenas.

SWS has offered this product to Florida’s construction industry for many years but it became especially popular during the recent recession.

“The builders loved the idea that they were utilizing materials that are sustainable,” says Gusmano of this product. “It was also a cost savings for them, because they didn’t have to use virgin materials.” The product is also used for drainage fields, temporary erosion control and septic tank leachate fields.
 

Building the business

Achieving the wide Florida footprint of SWS today has followed an evolution starting with the C&D recycling experience its founders gained in the Northeast beginning in the 1970s.

Lomangino shares how predecessor company Star Recycling entered the C&D recycling business almost by accident during the late 1960s and early ’70s. In those days Lomangino would sort through waste at the company’s transfer station during the cold winters of the Northeast, burning waste wood in a 55-gallon drum for warmth as he worked.

“When that material was sent to the landfill, we realized we were saving quite a bit in tipping fees because of the reduced weight of the garbage,” says Lomangino. “So then we started pulling out all the wood, and then we went out and found buyers for that wood. So the original recycling in our facility was really landfill avoidance.”

Among the original buyers of the company’s recovered wood was Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, which burned the wood in its cogeneration plants. Soon the managers at Allied/Star begin looking for other materials to pull from the C&D and MSW streams and for processes that would add value to these materials, such as those that existed for paper, cardboard, metal and plastics.

The birth of the company’s more modern C&D recycling operations began when Lomangino made a trip to Germany to attend a recycling equipment show with the intention of buying a wood chipper. He ended up purchasing a C&D processing system from Lindemann Engineering instead.

Gusmano also attributes some of the company’s growth over the years to being in the right places at the right time. SWS facilities are in some of the state’s fastest growing markets, where the company has been able to grow both organically and through acquisitions.

Most importantly, though, is SWS’ way of collecting, processing and in turn marketing, the significant volumes of C&D material generated in these growing regions of Florida, where the construction sector continues to hum along at a healthy pace.

“The company’s growth strategy is predicated first on establishing processing and transfer capacity and then capturing volume, which in turn it drives through its processing facilities,” Gusmano says.

In more recent years, SWS has invested in new facilities and systems that have expanded the company’s processing services to include MSW, metals and residential single-stream recyclables. In addition, the company’s MSW hauling services now extend into Palm Beach and Miami Dade counties.

On the MSW processing front, in 2010 SWS entered into a joint venture on behalf of its Sun Recycling division and Bergeron Environmental Services, a land development and environmental consulting company based in Davie. The venture subsequently gained numerous waste and recycling collection, processing and disposal contracts in Broward County that helped cut residents’ costs by almost half in some cases, says Lomangino. Sun Bergeron’s entry into the MSW market is saving residents of Broward County millions of dollars, he adds.

The company also has continued to expand its collections sector, winning a five-year collection contract for roughly 47,000 residential homes and 30,000 commercial businesses in Palm Beach County. This was in addition to the company’s existing collections contracts for MSW, recycling and yard waste in a handful of other South Florida communities and numerous multifamily waste services throughout Broward, Miami Dade and Palm Beach counties.

To accommodate the newer contracts, SWS built an MSW processing facility in Davie in 2013 and is on track to process more than 300,000 tons this year, along with a new 25-ton-per-hour single-stream recycling facility in Deerfield Beach, which opened in early 2014.

“These two facilities added a new dimension to the scope of our business,” describes Gusmano. “In addition, they create highly sought-after and valuable jobs in our state.”

Another new market area for SWS has been metal recycling. In fall 2013 the company installed a turnkey shredder and nonferrous system from Buffalo, New York-based Wendt Corp. at the company’s Pompano Beach facility. The shredder has allowed SWS to process the more than 2,200 tons of metals received each month from its combined C&D operations.

Meanwhile, the C&D processing side of the business also continues to grow. In October 2014 the company opened a new C&D processing facility in West Palm Beach. The 10-acre facility is dedicated to concrete aggregate recycling, and Gusmano says adding the site was a direct result of the additional materials gained on the MSW and single-stream sides of the business.

“With the increase in recycling, there was more material available and we needed the space to produce more products,” he says.

The new C&D recycling facility includes a 1400 Max crusher from Eagle Crusher Co. based in Galion, Ohio, matched up to an Eagle 6-foot by 20-foot triple-deck screen. Gusmano says the crusher can generate as many as four different sizes of products at the same time and can process up to 250 tons per hour depending on the material.

Currently SWS is adding another mixed C&D processing yard in Davie to handle its growing volume. The 21-acre facility, due to open later in 2015, is expected to include a range of state-of-the-art technologies and processes.

Gusmano points out that all of the company’s facilities—C&D, MSW and residential/commercial recycling—are single-stream facilities.

“Our customers enjoy the convenience of disposing of waste on their sites in just one container. We then process, separate and produce valuable products from the materials.”

This means that customers don’t have to make extra space on their sites for separate containers, nor do they need to separate materials at job sites, Gusmano adds.

“That single-source container is processed at our facilities utilizing the most up-to-date equipment and processes in the industry,” Gusmano says.

Strong markets for the company’s materials have been another driver of its business growth and success over the years. “Our position as an integrated C&D collector, processor, manufacturer and marketer puts us at a distinct advantage,” Gusmano observes.

Gusmano acknowledges, while it’s difficult to differentiate oneself in the waste industry, that’s just what SWS has done. He concludes, “SWS has built a brand that represents an environmentally sound, high service, responsible and dependable operator focused on recycling and waste processing for zero waste.”

 


The author is a managing editor for the Recycling Today Media Group and can be contacted at lmckenna@gie.net.

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