ADSI CEO apologizes for service, working to correct issues

Published 2:42 pm Monday, December 18, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Garbage was the center of attention during a regularly scheduled  Lincoln County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday. Arrow Disposal Service Incorporation’s CEO Richard Urrutia took to the podium before the board to hear complaints and provide answers. 

ADSI started serving Lincoln County in October 2018 when the garbage service took over for Waste Pro. It has now been five years since ADSI took over garbage collection. Missed garbage pickups and disposal of private cans have been frequent topics of discussions at supervisor meetings. District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown said he wanted the service to be as good as it was when ADSI started. 

“I want to apologize to the board. We have been here almost six years. We have enjoyed it but I would like each of you to tell me what you have experienced and I’ll take it and work to fix it,” Urrutia said. 

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District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey said what they had to say has nothing to do with the local ADSI guys but strictly the business of trash not being collected. District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson said his district has issues of missed roads not being picked up for two weeks sometimes. 

District 2 supervisor Jerry McGehee said he understood human nature would lead to missed cans and he hadn’t had many problems in his district. Falvey said the biggest issue in his district is dead end roads not being picked up. 

One example is Timbercrest Lane off of MS-550. Falvey said the cul-de-sac was missed for four weeks in a row and every time he would get a call about it the local ADSI management would take care of it. 

“The driver has to be held accountable to pick up trash and make sure cans are picked up” Falvey said. “I’m hearing there is no positive response from the Birmingham office. We have a breakdown somewhere when people call to report trash being missed. We are not here to change companies. We need to solve the problem with y’all and continue to be your customers.” 

Brown said the workers in his district have picked up the garbage themselves using heavy equipment and a pickup truck. Lincoln County administrator Daniel Calcote said the cost of picking up trash and taking it to the landfill counting labor and equipment is $12,000. 

It wasn’t until last month that Brown had a complaint about ADSI. He had boasted that his district rarely had trash missed. 

“They never missed me and after that meeting I went home and they had missed me. The next week they took my private can,” Brown said. “There was no reason to get those cans. They were in perfect shape. That’s the complaint. When we went to pick it up it hadn’t been picked up in weeks.” 

ADSI’s Urrutia handed out a sheet of all the missed cans for the previous month. There were 101 missed cans called into the corporate office out of 43,000 stops, he said. 

Urrutia said the problem for ADSI lies in people. He had never seen the problems with turnover of employees that ADSI has had until this year. Parts are another challenge for ADSI. Delays for parts have kept trucks from getting repaired as quickly as they could before COVID. 

“I want your garbage. It is how we make our living. We have a year left. We need new trucks.  We have some people who don’t want to work so to combat manpower problems we are testing a tablet,” Urrutia said. “Automated trucks would mean one less person to depend on. Routing tablets would have a stop by stop button and a service verification. Trucks would have cameras so we could tell if someone put their garbage can out. Some people don’t always tell the truth. However, we have dropped the ball. I didn’t build the company on this service. Prior to last year I never stayed awake at night worried about if we missed pickups. Now I do.” 

He said another issue they are having is route abandonment. Employees get tired and abandon their route for the day and go back to the yard and the supervisors think the trash had been picked up. To correct route abandonment, Urrutia said the local manager now talks to the local driver throughout the day and calls them before they leave their route. 

Urrutia said he owes the county a list of updated routes so the public and supervisors can know which roads are supposed to be picked up on certain days. 

“The county has been helpful. The fact y’all have a mindset to talk, thank you,” Urrutia said. “We have been here for five years. We hadn’t had these problems before this year. It is on our radar. We need to finish the job and the routes.” 

He left the podium and went to meet with Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox. Brookhaven has discussed changing garbage companies. Cox listened to much of Urrutia’s report propped up in the board room doorway.

Concerned citizen

One Lincoln County resident did not buy that ADSI was going to correct things. Resident Brady Hodge told the board of supervisors that he hadn’t used the garbage company in four and a half years because they left cans and trash all over his road. 

Instead, Hodge takes his trash to a dumpster. He sees the proposed additions of automation and technology to trucks as a concern for residents. 

“All of these additions will mean more money for us in the long run. We don’t get the service we pay for,” Hodge said. “There is a disconnect. No one can tell them to do better and hold their feet to the fire. They need to know if they do not get it right then they don’t get paid. If the contract comes up for renegotiation we need to do something to hold them accountable. They aren’t doing a good job and haven’t done a good job for a while.” 

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