Trash to treasure Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009

Michael K. Ferris had a problem.

Yet, instead of complaining about it, he decided to create a solution.

While working odd jobs and playing semi-pro football in his 20s, Ferris, founder, president and CEO of Valet Waste, bounced from apartment complex to complex during the 1990s. That meant that he spent a lot of time taking his garbage down three flights of stairs and across the complex to the trash compactors.

In 1995, he decided to start a service for the residents in his complex in which he would haul their trash to the compactor and save them the inconvenience. Ferris got 90 percent of the residents on board and began picking up trash five nights a week in large cloth bags.

Over the next six years, Ferris spent many late nights hauling trash and trying to figure out a better way to build his business. That’s when he discovered that multifamily housing unit residents desired amenities and convenience, while property owners wanted ways to keep residents satisfied and increase occupancy.

Ferris sold his idea to property owners by explaining that his service would not only satisfy residents’ need for convenience but would also keep the grounds clean, resulting in a better image for the complex. He also gave management a way to earn ancillary income by charging residents for the services provided by Ferris’ company.

Success ensued, and a private equity firm purchased the company in 2006, allowing Ferris to rapidly expand his concept across the country. Valet Waste’s revenue has increased by 200 percent since 2006, and total assets have increased by more than 1,000 percent.

The company has also expanded into 18 states, serving more than 200,000 units.

How to reach: Valet Waste, (877) 574-2587 or