February 2, 2012

Waste Management buys Lies Trash Service

Waste Management, the Wichita area’s third-largest trash hauler, has bought Lies Trash Service, the second-largest.

Waste Management, the Wichita area’s third-largest trash hauler, has bought Lies Trash Service, the second-largest.

The sale was effective Wednesday, said David Lies, who was vice president of Lies Trash Service.

The former company’s 42,000 residential and industrial customers will see no difference in service, according to a statement from Waste Management. Routes and schedules will stay the same. The company didn’t say in the statement what would happen to trash fees.

Waste Management said it will try to keep as many Lies Trash Service employees as possible.

Lies said his employees will keep their same wages and vacations, but will get a retirement plan, which Lies was never able to provide.

Lies said his father, Lee Lies, owned the company and made the decision to sell. David Lies has been the face of the company in recent years.

His father has gotten older and developed some health issues in recent years, plus Waste Management made him a good offer, David Lies said.

David Lies said he has made peace with the decision.

“It was his company,” David Lies said. “He built it. He ran it for 50 years. Some people might not understand, but for him it was the right decision.”

Houston-based Waste Management is one of the world’s largest waste management companies with sales of $13.2 billion.

But in Wichita, Waste Management was a distant third, with about 15 percent of the market. Lies had about twice that amount, while the top hauler, Waste Connections, has about 40 to 45 percent of the market, according to Lies’ estimates in 2009. The rest of the market belonged to smaller haulers.

With the purchase, the two largest haulers will have more than 80 percent of the market.

City Manager Bob Layton said the sale has no impact on the city’s recently-adopted trash hauling plan, which requires haulers to offer curbside recycling and a choice of smaller and larger containers. The plan will go into effect Nov. 1.

Lies said Waste Management also bought a large recycling facility that Lies Trash Service recently built at 4631 S. Palisade to comply with the city plan.

In 2010 Layton initially proposed assigning haulers to serve parts of the city and negotiated a price of $20 a month for trash, which would be paid via city water bills. But the council rejected the plan after a outcry from those who didn’t want City Hall picking their trash company, while others said that $20 a month was too high. Free market competition among the haulers, many said, is essential to keeping prices down.

Haulers remain free to charge their own rates and set their own routes. Layton said he is curious to see what happens in the new competitive landscape.

“Lies has grown partly because it offered very competitive rates,” he said, “so it will be interesting to what happens with rates.”

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