Brendon Pantano feels like the waste industry should be more entrepreneurial.
As a third-generation descendant of New York-based Fredonia Sanitary Services, Pantano’s belief was not so farfetched. He grew up working in the family business, learning every aspect of the industry and the dirty work that goes into it.
“I really loved the industry. but I didn’t love working for the big companies,” he told Waste360. “Now with the size of these big companies, everything seems so formulaic. I totally get why it’s like that when you get to that size, but it just wasn’t a good fit for someone like me. I thought maybe if I could find a bunch of people that felt the same way, that we could put something cool together and have some fun.”
Pantano, a Waste360 40 Under 40 recipient, founded Coastal Waste & Recycling in 2017. The Pompano Beach-based hauler established its roots in a We-Work office, working with strategic partner Summer Street Capital.
Since then, Coastal has completed the acquisition of 11 companies. Pantano has deliberately executed the strategy of building diverse capabilities in hauling and post-collection, while assembling an experienced team focused on a single “Coastal Vision” of customer service and employee engagement.
Pantano recently connected with Waste360 to discuss how his business has grown in the past four years.
Waste360: What was it like growing up with your family in the waste business?
Pantano: Early mornings, long days and a lot of hard dirty work. We would help out in all different aspects of the business: jumping on routes, painting cans, cleaning the shop, organizing the parts room, loading transfer trailers and keeping the yard clean. There was never a lack of things to do around the facility.
Waste360: What was it like working in the We-Work office?
Pantano: The We-Work was awesome. I had never been in one prior to this; so, it was a learning experience. We had access to conference rooms and some great help at the front desk. I think they are a great option for startups. It was kind of cool because we only had a 10×12 office so we jammed 2 or 3 desks in there and got to work. We spent a ton of time there with my partners at Summer Street Capital building models and running proformas on all our crazy ideas. When I think back now it’s kind of crazy how much work we got done there and that was really where the vision and the platform was born.
Waste360: What concepts and values did you learn growing up that carried into your business?
Pantano: Simply put, the value of people. The importance of each and every single person and their contribution to making an operation work. I would say my Dad’s insistence on making me learn every aspect of the business is what really made me appreciate everyone’s value and really helped me become a more empathetic leader.
Waste360: Who inspired you along the way?
Pantano: There are so many people it’s hard to give credit to everyone. Watching my grandfather who came from nothing and build a garbage company and then seeing my Dad take it to the next level is where it started. It made me believe it’s possible. My partners at Summer Street Capital who really took a flyer on me and helped me every step of the way. I think just someone taking a risk on you is inspiring. As the business began to take off the list just kept getting longer. It’s amazing to see how much support people have shown this company over the years as we have grown from 6 trucks to over 350. Now my inspiration comes from my teammates. The ones who give it their all, day in and day out to help keep the vision and culture thriving.
Waste360: Tell me more about the Coastal Vision. How do you engage employees and offer superior customer service?
Pantano: The Coastal Vision is one of growth, personal growth and business growth. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. We believe if we continue to take care of our people and help them grow, that they will take great care of our customers and that will help the business to grow. We want to be best independent solid waste company in the southeast and want to have fun doing it! I think if we stay focused on our Vision and Values, we will get their faster than we think.
Waste360: Where do you see Coastal Waste & Recycling going in the future?
Pantano: We expect to see continued significant growth. We continue to find cool opportunities to grow the business and it seems everyday something new pops up. I think expansion into new geographies is eminent and we look forward to entering these new markets and showing them what Coastal is all about. We are developing a great team of industry professionals and continue to add new great talent every day. We have a great group of investors behind us between Summer Street Capital and Concentric Equity Partners. With a combination like that, I’m not sure why we would ever stop growing this thing!