A big change is coming down the pike for a garbage company many in Rochester rely on.
Waste Management said that on October 1 it bought out GarbageMan's Rochester service, which means one less garbage collection option for Rochester residents.
It was not until November 27, that all of the accounts were completely transferred over.
"Waste Management acquired GarbageMan, here in Rochester. We closed on December 1," said Julie Ketchum, a spokesperson for Waste Management.
When asked about the October 1 buyout date, Ketchum said, "I think that was a misunderstanding. We do have another GarbageMan acquisition in the Twin Cities area; there may have been some confusion with that." Ketchum continued, "It's unfortunate that somehow misinformation was given about the acquisition but we're here to correct that."
This news came as a shock to many simply because many customers we spoke with were completely unaware of the change.
"I guess I'm really surprised that I haven't heard anything from them yet," said GarbageMan customer, Rebecca Klein. "Garbage was today and they still haven't come to take out my trash."
The president of GarbageMan, Andy Sorenson, said it was a tough decision to make. "We didn't really want to sell out, everyone loved our service in Rochester, but we did not want to be a part of organized collection, and a couple of city council people were big proponents of this, and did a couple of studies on it," said Sorenson. "We are just nervous. Organized collection is popping up in many cities around Minnesota, and that's where the city can pull the statute and go to a system of organized collection. In our experience, in both cities we have gone through this process, they would just say 'give us this price and we are going to one hauler,' and if that would have happened we would have gone out of business. We felt that the risk of that was too great for us in Rochester."
Sorenson said GarbageMan had three criteria for selling--one, the buyer would keep all of the company's employees; second, the buyer would keep the weekly recycling; and third, that they would keep the customers prices fair.
A Waste Management representative said that for any residents affected by this change, their monthly or quarterly rate for service will not be affected at this time. However, customers could potentially see a change in price one year from now.
"Waste Management agreed to honor all of our existing contracts for a year," said Sorenson.
Sorenson said Waste Management will be offering GarbageMan's employees as good or better pay and health benefits.
Waste Management said it is excited to welcome GarbageMan customers and is even thinking about added weekly recycling to their current Waste Management customers. "We will honor the weekly recycling that GarbageMan offered to their customers and we are looking at that being a part of our regular, our existing, Waste Management customers also getting that same weekly benefit," said Ketchem.
The president of GarbageMan said the company will be sending letters to customers in Rochester this week.
Sorenson said on Monday, "We're just grateful for the citizens of Rochester. We started a few years ago with a handful of customers and a good model. Rochester really responded and we grew like cats and dogs. We're really just grateful." Sorenson added, "We are very thankful for their business and we hope they give Waste Management a try. They are the only company in town that's going to keep the weekly recycling. I know that's been a bit positive thing here, so I would just encourage everyone to keep supporting that weekly recycling and Waste Management that's doing the weekly recycling."
When we took to the streets Friday afternoon, we found that many residents felt they have been let down by GarbageMan, with the main reason being that they still have not been notified of this change.
"I don't know Waste Management; I've always heard that they were always more expensive than some of the other carriers in town, so I always shied away from them," said Marvin Toogood, a four year customer of GarbageMan. "But hopefully they don't raise my rates, because if they do, I'll be shopping."
Toogood also added, "I just got a bill in the mail and there's nothing in there about this. So that's kind of a let down, in a way, that you think they would have told us that this was happening."
Any former GarbageMan customers who have questions regarding their bills, service, or any issues, are now asked to call Waste Management instead of GarbageMan.