The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 28, 2014

Kato's new waste hauler a big family business

Don Williamson started out driving garbage truck


West Central also uses a variety of computer technology in its trucks.

"Tablets — small computers — is the newest thing. We have one in each truck," Williamson said.

"It takes the place of a 100-page paper route. Trucks are continuously connected by GPS, so if they're lost they hit a button and have turn-by-turn directions."

The computers also geocode every route, allowing the company to set up the most efficient routes. Drivers use the tablets to text to the office, but the texting automatically shuts down if the truck is moving more than 3 mph to prevent texting while driving.

"They save time and money," he said of the tablets.

Williamson said he will initially have about six trucks and drivers in Mankato, but expects to add more as he moves into the commercial waste hauling business locally after settling in.

He is looking to buy a few acres of land, with our without a building, for a shop location in Mankato or North Mankato.

"We'll hire some staff and start making connections in the community. We like to support non-profits and the community, that's important to us."

Williamson's business has grown 10 percent or more annually since it started. While large enough to stay competitive, it's a small player compared to the international haulers such as Waste Management.	

"When I started it was all mom and pop businesses. I had eight competitors but all were one or two trucks. But times change. Landfills changed, no city dumps, more regulations. It added a lot of cost and you had to be a good money manager.

"The big companies came in, but corporate objectives don't always flow down to the local community in a nice fit — they might fit and they might not. When they don't, there's opportunity for someone like us," he said.

"Every customer leads us to the next one."


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