Upon attending Heil Environmental’s Dealer Council meeting the Friday after the 2020 AED Summit, Mid-Atlantic Waste Systems decided the time was right to become an AED member. Founded in 1985 in Centreville, Maryland, and now based in Easton, Mid-Atlantic Waste Systems serves customers at seven locations in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. They represent the Heil, Galbreath, Pac-Mac, TYMCO and Vacall lines. Below is some of Mid-Atlantic’s rich history and why they are so excited about joining AED.
Mid-Atlantic Hits the Scene
The story of Mid-Atlantic Waste Systems starts with Rich Hood. Considered by his peers the quintessential American entrepreneur, Hood started in the business working for Don Galbreath. At the time, Galbreath was making hoists and lifts in the Midwest, and Hood joined on as the plant supervisor. Five years later, Galbreath asked Hood to move out to the East to develop Galbreath’s distribution network in that region.
In 1980, Hood moved his young family to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There he was responsible for setting up Galbreath’s entire distribution from Maine to Florida. One night in 1985, Hood looked at his wife, Suzanne, across the dinner table and said, “I think I can do this on my own.” It was a pretty gutsy decision to leave a good steady income and go out on his own, especially since Suzanne was in the middle of law school at the time and the couple had two young children. But she was fully supportive of Hood’s decision, and so Mid-Atlantic was born in 1985.
Hood started in Centreville, Maryland, selling TYMCO street sweepers, and before long he was looking for additional product lines. In 1986, he met and became good friends with Paul Heil, grandson of Julius P. Heil, founder of Heil Environmental Industries. Hood soon secured the Maryland territory for Heil. At the time, Heil had just developed a new technology called Half Pack and their product was really taking off. For Mid-Atlantic, working with Heil during this period was a case of being in the right place at the right time.
When Mid-Atlantic started, it did not carry the Galbreath line because Hood had previously and successfully set up Galbreath’s distribution with other companies in the area. Sometime in the late 1980s, Mid-Atlantic picked up the Galbreath line. It must have been rewarding for Hood to work with the manufacturer that he had cut his teeth on.
In 1990, Hood still had only the one location on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. His distribution area with Heil had prevented him from expanding beyond the state. The Eastern Shore is pretty rural, so Hood did a lot of business in Baltimore and just outside of Virginia. In 1990, customers told him that they did not want to continue to bring their trucks across the Bay Bridge. This is what prompted him to open his first satellite location near Washington, D.C.
Over the next several years, Mid-Atlantic kept expanding its territory with Heil; currently, it is Heil’s distributor for Maryland, Virginia, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and a little sliver of North Carolina.
Suzanne ended up getting her law degree and has been instrumental in anything having to do with Mid-Atlantic’s legal matters. She also played an active role in developing all the company’s policies and procedures. In the early days it was not uncommon for Suzanne to be out delivering equipment with Rich with a baby in her arms. The success of Mid-Atlantic owes a lot to her efforts.
In 2012, the couple relinquished their day-to-day management of the company to enjoy the fruits of their labor down in Florida. Today, Hood is chairman of the board and 100 percent owner of Mid-Atlantic, and Suzanne is the acting secretary. Hood is in contact with now-CEO Jamie Varner on a weekly basis, and the Hoods always try to meet with Varner when they are in town. “In my position, the Hoods’ direction is invaluable,” says Varner.
“Hood just provides so much guidance and a wealth of knowledge. On top of that, he is a very innovative thinker.”
Heil’s New Look
“Heil has done some really exciting things over the last year”, says Varner. “They have brought in a few new folks on their leadership team. People like David Combs, director of sales, who is in charge of their overall dealer network.” This new blood on the Heil executive team comes from companies with very sophisticated, very established market shares and dealer networks like Cummins and Caterpillar. “From what I understand anecdotally, Heil has faced challenges with their dealer network and the support that they have been able to provide that network,” commented Varner. “It is my sense that Pat Carroll, president of Environmental Solutions Group (owner of Heil) is very committed to strengthening the dealer network, and he has brought in people with some fresh ideas. As part of that they are looking at resources and ways they can help their dealers be stronger.” Enter AED.
Mid-Atlantic joins AED
The first meeting of the reconstituted Heil Dealer Council happened right at the end of the AED Summit this year. This was by design, so that members who were now going to be on the council could attend and see if AED membership was right for them. During the council meeting, some of the folks from AED came up and spoke with the group about the benefits of membership.
“The thing that made me make the decision so quickly was the 2018 Cross-Industry Compensation & Benefits Report,” said Varner. “It just so happens that as we speak, Mid-Atlantic is in the process of defining the different types of service technicians we have and what the associated pay ranges should be. We have plenty of internal data, and know what our branch managers think pay rates should be, but we have very little market data about what is out there in the marketplace.” Considering this, Varner knew the time was right to sign on to AED. “I was already planning to join AED, but because one of their resources was the compensation report, I figured I could buy it as a nonmember or I could save money and join now. That is what helped me decide so quickly.
“There were a lot of draws to AED membership for me, though. All of their training, for example. Heil is developing training for all of their dealers’ service technicians. Combine that with the training that AED has around service managers, parts managers and branch managers, and I was sold,” said Varner. “The resources AED has around industry data and statistics. And having someone we can go to or call if we’re just trying to figure something out, or solve a challenge we’re dealing with; to have a network that we can go to and talk with other folks is invaluable.”
Bill Mayes is another example of AED’s network already benefiting Mid-Atlantic. Mayes is a consultant with a lifetime of experience in the business. As a founding member of the Machinery Advisors Consortium, he has helped hundreds of dealerships find synergies throughout their operations. As of 2019, Mid-Atlantic was added to that list.
At Heil’s most recent annual dealer meeting, Mayes spoke about how to make money in your service and parts department. “I thought he was one of the best speakers I had ever heard in my life,” said Varner. “So many times you hear a speaker and there is not much that is actionable from the talk. With Mayes, on the other hand, everything he said was right to the point; you could do something with it immediately. At that annual meeting, I was able to speak with Mr. Mayes a lot.”
As it turns out, the reason Mayes was at Heil’s meeting was because Dave Combs had spoken with AED and they had suggested him. Varner said, “Without AED, Mayes wouldn’t have been at the Heil annual meeting, and I would have never heard of him.”