By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor
For nearly 35 years Colin Huxted, his wife Bonnie and their four children nurtured, worried, championed and devoted their lives to their biggest baby: H&H Huxted Enterprises.
Last week the family faced bittersweet emotions upon allowing their company to leave the nest and spread its wings under conglomerate Waste Management Canada, which officially acquired the assets on Feb. 1.
In the past, Huxted received multiple offers from leaders in the waste management industry but turned them down with ease. When Waste Management Canada once again came knocking on the office door in March of 2017, Colin Huxted decided it was time greater attention was spent on other members of his family – his grandchildren.
The decision was finalized last week, following numerous meetings, the assurance of the future of his employees – who will all be staying on at the Strathmore location – and learning about the company’s resources and future plans for the environment and sustainability.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be doing this,” said Huxted, during an emotional speech to community members at the Strathmore Station Restaurant and Pub on Feb. 5. “Huxted has had many offers to sell our company and we were never ready to. At first it was easy to say no to the offers but the Huxted family began to grow with grandchildren … and it was getting time to spend more time with these young people and hand over our company that had grown into a fairly big business and was requiring lots of attention.
“I’ve had a very close relationship with many of my employees, most of them are like family; many of them are family. This little company that Bonnie and I started, and many thousands of hours my kids have devoted in this company, meant this company needed to go to someone that I can trust to look after my kids, my family of employees, and the community I love and call home.”
Waste Management employs over 40,000 people in North America and over 500 in Western Canada – 30 of which are now in Strathmore. With the acquisition of Huxted Waste and Recycle the corporation now has a total of 29 sites and prides itself in promoting civic pride and economic development through charitable giving, supporting local organizations and investing in maintaining wildlife habitat, as well as protecting native plants and animals.
With continuous efforts towards sustainability and operating a class 1 composting site, H&H Huxted Enterprises remained on Waste Management’s radar.
“This is one of the heaviest regulated industries and we at Waste Management … not only is it one of our fundamental pillars to maintain environmental excellence, but they have as well a focus and value in their company, so that was a good match for us,” said Rina Blacklaws, Western Canada and area communications manager for Waste Management Canada.
“The Huxteds are such a great family and they have welcomed us with such open arms, so we’re thrilled to be part of this community and be part of this family and have them join our bigger family. It’s just such an honour to work with all of them.”
Colin and Bonnie Huxted started the business nearly 35 years ago in order for Colin to remain close to home and help raise their family. The family started out with one truck that was driven by his then pregnant wife alongside their 18-month-old son Cody in the passenger seat, while Colin threw the garbage. The company has come a long way since the days when the office was located in their basement and their young children helped stuff and lick envelopes. Their daughter Lindsay Huxted-Sager has fond memories of seeing trucks roll onto the driveway for the first time and spending her summers in a truck with her dad.
“It’s exciting, it’s something new but it’s definitely different, because it’s something that we’ve grown up with our whole life,” said Huxted-Sager, operations specialist at Huxted Waste and Recycle. “I can remember my dad teaching me how to run certain trucks and figuring out certain trucks before he could. When they told us that they sold it, it was kind of like the loss of a sibling. It’s definitely bittersweet. I’m excited to see where it’s going to go and how much bigger they’re going to make it because they’re going to be able to do things that we, as a mom and pop, couldn’t do.”
According to Colin Huxted, Waste Management is able to provide the staff with wage increases, numerous benefits, retirement plans, profit sharing and shares. Furthermore, the company has greater resources with a focus on organics and a greener footprint.
“They care about the community, they care about their customers and they care about their employees; and for us – our team here at Waste Management – that’s what our roots are as well,” said Jordan Lister, Waste Management district manager.
“As an employee taking over what Huxted left us, we look forward to carrying on their legacy, keeping the employees in the community and trying to live up to some pretty big shoes to fill here.”
H&H Huxted serviced the Town of Strathmore and Drumheller for over 30 years and provided services to Wheatland County for over 25 years. Beyond offering commercial services, the company also provided residential garbage collection and acquired the recycle yard in Strathmore in 2013.
As Huxted has held numerous contracts with the town, Mayor Pat Fule said he felt confident in the family’s decision to hand over the reins to Waste Management and about its role in the community.
“They plan to offer the same kind of quality service to the town that H&H Huxted has in the past, so we think it’s going to be a smooth transition to the new company. We’re grateful to Bonnie and Colin for all their years of running a good company and all the things that they did for the community,” said Fule.
“He (Colin) feels that this is a good fit for us and we trust him. He thought that they’d be a great fit for the community of Strathmore so we have really good faith moving forward.”
Roughly 100 members of the community and local officials attended a celebration of the merger on Feb. 5. Colin Huxted addressed his friends, former employees and business partners, and delivered an emotional yet humorous speech. He will stay employed by the company for a year as a consultant.
“This is the only company I would sell to because I have my family working there; this is our baby, this is our legacy, I did not want to give it up yet but it’s just getting time,” he said.
“Please remember that the Huxted family is still here and now our family is just bigger and better. I truly believe Waste Management will be a huge asset for our communities and I would like you to welcome them into our community and help them become part of our community.”