RDM Disposal of Brampton, Ontario is a family-owned-and-operated waste disposal company that proves a small fish can compete in a big pond. Despite its size, the company has garnered many repeat clients and thrives on customer referrals, since clients appreciate its service and personal touch. We spoke with Marketing Supervisor Brandon Burns to learn more.
RDM Disposal was founded in 2011 by Mark and Dean Burns, twin brothers who were formerly in the warehousing business. They were looking for a fresh start and saw the garbage truck/waste disposal business as a possibility. After some research, they believed this was a good industry to enter.
“They met and spoke with people they knew in the industry and started it up in 2011, originally with a third partner. Rob, Dean, and Mark were the owners, but Rob is no longer with the company,” says Mark’s son Brandon. Through the hard and dedicated work of Mark and Dean, the business has thrived.
Brandon Burns started by doing small jobs for the company when he was in high school and then took a marketing course at Humber College in Etobicoke. Throughout college, he did small jobs until he graduated two years ago and has been working full-time here since.
RDM is known for its keen attention to customer service. It deliberately chooses to be a small company with a tightknit staff with six in the office to keep things personal for its customers. “When you call to place an order, you are speaking with either myself, Dean, or Mark. You are dealing with the owners of the company. We also handle the dispatch work. You are not dealing with a large conglomerate company with lots of calling agents or different people with hoops to jump through. We specialize in delivering personalized, friendly service,” says Burns. The three family members have been hands-on since the beginning.
Business has moved along at a slow but steady pace with which the owners are comfortable. It began with one truck in 2011 and now has a fleet of eleven. This kind of business involves a host of expenses as each truck is worth upwards of $250,000, with the bins coming in at approximately $5,000 each.
“We have to expand gradually and cannot quicken that pace without outside investment, but we are not interested in that route. We would rather keep things in-house and grow organically. The goal is to continue to grow and expand. We now utilize over two hundred bins and started with only ten. We will add one to two trucks per year and add ten to twenty bins in the same timeframe,” says Burns.
RDM’s presently operates within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with some services extending to the Burlington and Hamilton area and some work in Guelph and Kitchener. It will go out of the GTA for repeat customers or the account of someone well-known to the owners but would have to charge more due to distance travelled.
This year, RDM plans to increase its fleet and service area with more trips to Hamilton, Burlington, Guelph, Kitchener, and even the Pickering area. “Ninety-nine percent of our business is within the GTA, but we receive requests for business on a frequent basis outside of our core area of business. However, sometimes it’s not economically feasible,” says Burns.
The further out RDM goes, the more costs rise. This is mainly due to fuel prices, but wear and tear on the vehicles also comes into play as these trucks can take quite a beating on the road with frequent use. It is also harder to compete in areas where people have home-based companies, but RDM has good rates and believes that this will garner it more business as it charges at the lower end of the going rates for waste disposal services to increase its volume of customers and orders.
This strategy goes along with RDM’s business model that centers on customer service. The company prides itself on being able to pick up bins in a timely fashion so the need to speak with salespeople and customer service representatives is eradicated.
“We want people to have a personal experience, so we rely on that aspect of our business to triumph over the distance we have to travel to different parts of Ontario. We hope people are still willing to order from us, even though it may cost a little more than a local company,” says Burns.
The price difference between RDM and local companies outside of the GTA might be in the range of fifty to one hundred dollars. It is a minor increase in cost, but in return, the customer gets a reputable company where they can deal directly with owners.
RDM cites weather as one of the main challenges faced but luckily it has been a mild winter this year. The winter months are not kind to this business. As the weather gets worse, business will slow down because fewer contractors and construction sites are active. “Building crews stop, and that is a large chunk of our business. The industry slows down around January and February, but this year has been devoid of freezing rain or snow, so the driving conditions are good,” says Burns.
Trucks and bins are susceptible to damage whether due to weather conditions or general wear and tear. Just like any machinery, be it a car or truck, issues develop over time with electronics or mechanical components, but as soon as a driver is aware there is an issue, they get it to a dealership or a shop to have it fixed.
“Our drivers have never been involved in an accident with the trucks, which is really fortunate but also a testament to the skills and professionalism of those we employ,” says Burns. Part of the reason for this success is due to how the company maintains the equipment and trucks with characteristic expertise from the owners and staff. The two owners, Dean and Mark are very experienced as they drove transport trucks for ten years and are familiar with the mechanics of large trucks.
“As soon as there is an issue with a bin, we get it fixed ASAP,” he says. “The bin company we use is Capital Disposal. We get our equipment fixed and maintained in good time, and that is the key to survival in this business. You have to constantly maintain your equipment and keep it up to date.”
RDM tries to use local suppliers. It acquires trucks from Mack, an American company, and Hino, a Japanese company, through Canadian dealerships. Its bins are from Capital Disposal, a local company that produces equipment solely for disposal companies.
Burns sees the company continuing its growth at the current rate, with ongoing expansion. Another aim soon is to grow the brand by getting the RDM name out there. Its track record means a great deal, as most of the work comes from referrals from past customers.
“We will be getting involved with community programs and school programs for recycling. We want to make more people aware of who we are while maintaining that family-owned-and-operated boutique and setting. This is what will continue to set us apart from other players in the industry. Hopefully, we will become a household name in the GTA and Ontario,” says Burns.