Landfill operators CFS see merger as benefit to Prince George, service area

By Michael Campbell, News Editor

PRINCE GEORGE – Following news of their recent merger with another company in America’s Deep South, representatives from Container First Services used their time before the board to discuss how their expansion will serve to benefit the community in the long run.

During a work session last week, officials with CFS spoke to supervisors about the merger with Georgia-based Meridian Waste Solutions, telling county leaders that this was an opportunity for CFS to expand and eventually become publically traded.

“When you’re in a situation where you can go public, you either have the means of raising that capital or you merge,” Robert Guidry with CFS explained to the board.

Opting to go with the latter option, Guidry explained that there were several inquiries made by different companies to purchase CFS and allow the company’s current leadership to stay on as active members but, those buyers did not pan out and, for the leadership team at CFS, selling the company and walking away wasn’t on the table for them.

Over time, Guidry said they were able to work out a deal with a similar in size, but slightly smaller, company in Georgia by the name of Meridian Waste Solutions, who operates a landfill operation in St. Louis, Missouri. Through their deal, the two companies were put together under a holding company, CFS was able to maintain their LLCs in the commonwealth while Meridian could continue their operations in Missouri.

Following the merger, on Feb. 14, Container First Services was traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange as part of Meridian Waste Solutions with the ticker symbol “MRDN.”

According to a press release from the Georgia-based waste operator, “Meridian Waste financed the acquisition with $34.1 million of additional capital provided by current senior lenders and funds from a recently completed equity offering.”

“Meridian Waste is on the forefront of an explosive period of growth, and I couldn’t be more pleased than to have The CFS Group and Rob Guidry lead our expansion into the Commonwealth of Virginia,” stated Jeff Cosman, CEO of Meridian Waste. “This acquisition further defines our growth strategy of targeting and expanding within vertically integrated markets and serve as a platform for further growth. Our combined companies will continue the quality environmental services The CFS Group’s customers have come to expect, and we know that together we create a stronger company driven by men and women committed to a clean community and environmental excellence. We welcome our newest team members to Meridian Waste and are proud to continue their efforts in providing superior customer service under the Meridian Waste family of companies.”

For Guidry and CFS, he believes all sides got what they wanted out the deal.

“Nothing has changed,” he explained to supervisors. “This has given us the ability to grow capital, allowing us to spend about $1.7 million on trucks and thousands of dollars on containers, with all of these things bringing gigantic benefits to the Tri-Cities area as we continue to be a regional landfill.”

CFS operates the Tri-City Regional Landfill and Recycling Center in Petersburg along Puddledock Road near the county line, along with disposal and recycling services in Lunenburg County, according to their website.

The company also services the county’s pair of convenience centers along Union Branch Road and James River Drive.

During his remarks, Guidry brought up the possibility of CFS looking at property near the Petersburg landfill that would serve to further assist the site in its activities, which prompted questions from leaders about CFS’ efforts to prevent problems that are seen, and smelled, from the Sussex landfill operated by Atlantic Waste Disposal, a division of Waste Management.

When asked by Chairman Bill Robertson if they work with or assist officials at the Sussex landfill with their ongoing odor issue that is consistently impacting the quality of life of residents in both Prince George and Sussex, Guidry said they have not, as it would be “a conflict of interest” for them to do so but, he did note that they, along with Waste Management, are involved in the Environmental Research and Education Foundation, or EREF, which is tasked with solving operational issues gaining a working knowledge of how to remediate, prevent and control reactions inside landfill masses.     

Without speaking to the specifics of the problems in Sussex, CFS said they would work to ensure nothing like that happens but, they stressed that every landfill has its own issues.

“This is a very regulated industry,” Guidry remarked. “At the end of the day, we have our own issues and, if others know what they are doing and know what they are talking about, they are going to have issues.”

“It’s a business that no one wants to do and it’s a business that isn’t really popular in the public’s eye, but, the reality of it is, what other choices do you have,” Guidry questioned. “Unless you can get the [Environmental Protection Agency] and the feds to release these guidelines and relinquish costs related to incinerators, you going to have to have a landfill that is built on a regional concept, but it must be managed properly.”

Speaking outside the meeting, Guidry said this merger will mean access to more capital, which, in turn, will mean further expansion and growth of CFS’ services in Prince George and Tri-Cities area, along with the other communities they service.

“When you’re a smaller-sized company and you’re depending on your banking relationships and other personal money being invested, your goal is to always grow and be better at what you do,” he said. “This is an extremely capital-intensive business.”

When asked about the company’s goal to expand into Prince George County, Guidry said their idea would be to not move somewhere new and to stay fairly close to the current landfill site along Puddledock Road.

“We have several sites around us based on where our facility sits currently,” he explained. “We’re literally a quarter-mile from multiple locations in that industrial area of Puddledock Road.”

No specific plans for expansion into Prince George County have been revealed by company officials.

Copyright 2017 by Womack Publishing

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