By Brandon Walker EBS LOCAL EDITOR
Editor’s note: As local businesses adjust to the ongoing restrictions and guidelines relating to COVID-19, EBS will feature businesses and organizations that are doing everything in their power to continue responsibly serving Big Sky.
BIG SKY – As people have adjusted their daily routines to fit the new normal caused by COVID-19 and its associated restrictions, there are a number of aspects in life that remain unchanged—among those is trash production.
Individuals may not be venturing to work every day or leaving their houses as often, but despite our new lifestyle, we are all still producing trash on a daily basis. That’s where L&L Site Services and Republic Services come in.
L&L Site Services—based in Belgrade—was established in 2007 by owner Lance Johnson. Johnson and his 29-person team have been servicing the Big Sky community ever since, expanding their offerings to include residential and commercial pickup four years ago. The veteran-owned business serves roughly 1,000 individuals in Big Sky.
Republic Services has been part of the Gallatin County community since 1996 when they opened their Bozeman location. Although customer numbers vary slightly by season, General Manager Donald Moss and his employees serve up to 1,200 people in the Big Sky community.
Representatives from L&L Site Services and Republic Services exchanged emails with EBS to discuss their adjusted roles as they continue to provide their offerings to the community throughout the pandemic.
Explore Big Sky: What adjustments have you made to address COVID-19 guidelines?
Lance Johnson (L&L): We have closed our office to foot traffic, we are practicing social distancing amongst employees and customers. Our main focus during this time has been the safety and health of our employees.
Donald Moss (Republic): Our top priority is the health and safety of our employees. The waste management industry is a heavily regulated business, and Republic Services already has extensive safety protocols in place. We made changes several weeks ago to help ensure proper social distancing for all our employees. This includes adjusting our procedures to limit the number of drivers interacting with other drivers and employees when they crew in and out at the beginning and end of the day. We have instructed employees on personal hygiene protocol for COVID-19 and provided necessary personal protective equipment for their roles (PPE). We are providing face masks designed for this specific purpose to all field employees. And all of our facilities and equipment are on an enhanced cleaning schedules, with cleanings scheduled multiple times per day.
EBS: How has your daily work routine been impacted by COVID-19?
D.M. (Republic): Our frontline employees are working every day as usual to take care of our customers. To thank them, Republic Services launched our “Committed to Serve” initiative, which provides meals twice a week to frontline employees, including a dinner for four on Fridays that employees can take home to their families. And we’re buying the meals from local restaurants to help support them during this time. We also are providing our frontline employees $400 in gift cards that they can spend at local businesses. It’s important to us to take care of our employees and to help our communities.
L.J. (L&L): Unfortunately, we have limited our interactions with customers and employees in an effort to maintain social distancing.
EBS: Have you seen an increase in household trash production now that many individuals are home more often than they otherwise would be?
L.J. (L&L): Yes
D.M. (Republic): We have seen a significant increase in residential trash and recycling.
EBS: Overall, how has trash production been affected, in terms of total pounds produced, as opposed to before COVID-19?
D.M. (Republic): The volume has shifted. Commercial and industrial waste is down with businesses and construction sites shut down, but residential is up.
L.J. (L&L): There has been a marked increase in the total amount of residential waste that we are picking up right now, but that is being offset due to some of our commercial accounts being shut down.
EBS: What reminders do you have for community members as the seasons change?
L.J. (L&L): As the days get warmer and longer, please help us keep your neighborhood clean. This includes bagging your waste and using animal resistant cans whenever possible.
D.M. (Republic): Please be bear aware as these animals are just coming out of hibernation and will be looking for food.
EBS: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
D.M. (Republic): Take care of your people and make the customer first in everything you do, and you will always be right.
L.J. (L&L): Take care of your customers, as they will take care of you.