Inside out

Jim O’Connor has seen it happen again
and again. Competitors in the solid waste
industry make acquisitions that they
thought would help their business but
instead it created major problems.

“A number of my competitors have over-paid and destroyed value with some of the
acquisitions they have done,” O’Connor
says. “We try to scope these process
reviews, goals and objectives very specifically. When we set the criteria, we live by
it.”

O’Connor, chairman and CEO of
Republic Services Inc., and his leadership
team have carefully managed the company’s growth. By focusing on the 13,000-employee company’s internal growth
needs, Republic has grown to $3.2 billion in
2007 revenue, up from $2.5 billion in 2003.

The growth has been possible because of
an unwavering focus on the company’s
internal makeup.

“The business is constantly evolving,”
O’Connor says. “You need to stay ahead of
the evolutionary process. If you don’t stay
ahead, the evolution will become a revolution and you’ll find yourself not able to easily catch up.”

While always looking for opportunities to
grow the business, O’Connor commits most
of his own time to working within
Republic’s core competency of the collection, disposal and recycling of solid waste.

In order to stay focused on your company’s sweet spot, you need to have clear goals
that everyone in your company aspires to
achieve. Employees also need to know what
their role is in achieving these goals.

“It’s consistency in the messages that are
delivered to the three constituencies we are
most concerned about,” O’Connor says.
“Those would be our employees, our customers and our shareholders. They have a
clear vision of what our expectations are for
the business and a clear understanding of
our focus on goals and objectives in the
short term and intermediate term.

“Once you get off the 50,000-foot look, it’s
a collaborative effort of the senior management team with some sprinkling of field personnel to help us get focused on what are
the issues to achieve a world-class service
organization and to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately deliver value.”

This focus on internal growth and development put Republic in a position to either
merge with larger rival Allied Waste
Industries Inc. or become part of industry
leader Waste Management Inc. The Allied
deal, if it goes through, would create a company that would have 35,000 employees and
13 million customers in 40 states. As of press
time, Waste Management was trying to preempt the Allied deal by offering to buy
Republic outright. Regardless of which deal
goes through, Republic has set itself up to
be a major player in its industry.

Here is how O’Connor prepared for
Republic’s external growth by engaging
employees in the company’s internal growth
and development.

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