Few can claim their last name as a brand. But mention the word “Rumpke” anywhere in this region, and there’s little doubt what family you are talking about.

Look to the right and you’ll see seven faces to put with the name: Bill Rumpke Sr., Bill Rumpke Jr., Todd Rumpke, Jeff Rumpke, Andy Rumpke, Mike Bramkamp and Phil Wehrman. Bill Sr. is the president and CEO, his son Bill Jr. is the COO; his nephew Todd, sons Jeff and Andy, and son-in-law Mike are all regional vice presidents; and his other son-in-law, Phil, is the CFO and treasurer.

Some might say this is an example of extreme nepotism, but in truth, Rumpke really is a family business, and it has always been that way. Including the core Rumpke clan, more than 100 family members work in various positions throughout the company.

Rumpke’s history began in 1932 during the Depression. Brothers William F. Rumpke and Bernard Rumpke operated a coal and junkyard business in Carthage, with a hog farm on the side. They collected trash from local residents and separated it into edible and inedible items. Inedible items were removed and recycled, and the rest was fed to the hogs.

Bill Sr. explains, “My pop had a coal yard, combination junk yard. People didn’t have any money at the time to pay him so he’d come back with trade or barter, chickens, sheep, et cetera. One time he brought back half a dozen hogs, so he sent his nephews out to find garbage for them. They knocked on doors asking for garbage. At one time we had 2,000 hogs. That’s where we made the majority of our money. We hardly charged anything for garbage collection.”

By 1945, the brothers had purchased 230 acres in Colerain Township to house their growing pig population. In fact, the old Rumpke “homestead” in Colerain is now the main landfill.

So, why shift from a successful pig farm to waste collection?

The practice of feeding garbage to pigs was relatively common during the first half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, this disposal method was largely responsible for more than 400 cases of trichinosis each year in the U.S. When another disease, known as vesicular exanthema, ravaged livestock between 1953 and 1955, more than 400,000 hogs were slaughtered to control the epidemic. Afterward, many states passed laws requiring that garbage be cooked before being fed to hogs.

The Rumpkes complied. “These new rules said you couldn’t feed garbage to hogs unless it was cooked, so we got out of that and got religiously into the garbage business,” says Bill Sr.

William and Bernard operated the business until the 1970s when their sons, Bill Sr. and Tom (who passed away in 2004), took over the helm. Throughout the past 30 years, the cousins expanded the residential service area and have formed several divisions, such as Rumpke Recycling, Rumpke Portable Restrooms, Rumpke Hydraulics and Rumpke Iron Works.

When you ask the seven guys what their first job at Rumpke was, they can’t help but smile. You can tell they have many fond memories of working for the business.

Bill Sr. says, “I stomped garbage. We used to pick up the garbage in open trucks. I was about 5 years old. I’d stomp it, pack it around and stack it. Dad paid me a quarter a load to stack garbage.”

And then he adds simply, “I never had any other job but Rumpke. I never tried for another job but Rumpke.”

His son Bill Jr. echoes, “My earliest memory of being around the business was riding in Dad’s Mack truck going around collecting garbage. I remember being unhappy when I had to go to school and I couldn’t be with him. I couldn’t help much but I was there.”

Bill Sr. interjects, “It was good training!”

Jr. finishes, “When I was old enough to actually get paid for what I did (at 12 or 13 years old), I swept floors, ran equipment around the landfill, did maintenance, mowed the grass around the property, you name it.”

The story is the same for all the Rumpkes. According to Bill Jr., they’ve done it all: “All the guys [in the picture] came up in the business. We’ve all worked at the business and done many things at the business. We understand what the job is and what it’s all about.”

He adds, matter-of-factly, “It’s in us; this is what our life has been about since we were really little.”

And yes, that includes Bill Sr.’s sons-in-law, Mike Bramkamp and Phil Wehrman. He laughingly says, “Just because they are married to a Rumpke, they have to work even harder.”

From two brothers to approximately 2,000 employees, Rumpke has changed a lot in its 76 years of operation. But one thing has remained the same: family. As a result of its strong family work ethic, Rumpke owns or operates nine landfills, seven transfer stations, and five recycling centers in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia.

Bill Sr. concedes that most people think working with family “all sounds rosy and creamy, but there is fierce competition. There are a lot of Rumpkes. They are what we call ‘contractors’ and they get paid for the amount of customers they have, and they compete over their customers. There have been fights at times over customers.”

Bill Jr. explains, “There are about 40 family members who manage routes and take care of the residential business. They are assigned specific areas and they must provide good customer service to those customers. They are in it for themselves. They have to do a good job to keep the customers because they are paid by how much business they take care of.”

To keep track of all the family members/contractors and their respective residential routes, each of the seven guys pictured have an area and contractors that they are responsible for. About once a month, these seven get together for a meeting to discuss the status of their particular area, or job.

According to Bill Jr., these meetings are crucial to the success of the business. “It helps us hold each other accountable to the job so we can be successful and work together. And, yes, we’ll argue about things or talk through things. We may have issues with each other ... but we keep it in that room and we solve our issues when we’re together. That’s the only thing that makes it work: Talk about it. If you ignore it, it’ll fester.”

Bill Sr. adds that as a family, “We kind of clan together because it’s like us against them.”

This “clan” mentality has certainly helped the Rumpke business. Rumpke is now the third largest waste hauler in the United States. Rumpke plans to expand the Colerain landfill so it can continue to operate for 30 more years, and it plans to open up a new recycling facility at that site in the next couple of years.

Amanda Pratt, corporate communications manager at Rumpke, explains that a major way the firm dispels negative perceptions is by giving tours of the landfill and recycling center. She states about 10,000 people visit each year.

“It’s very impactful. What used to be known as a ‘dump’ is now an ‘engineered landfill.’ A large percentage of the people that we give tours to leave here saying, ‘I had no idea it would be like this, that it would be this clean and that there would be this much work involved.’”

Another little known fact is the gas extraction that occurs at the landfill. There are three methane gas recovery facilities, owned by Montauk Energy Capital, that operate on the landfill. The plants can recover about 15 million cubic feet per day of landfill gas, making it the largest recovery operation of its kind in the world. The methane gas is converted into natural gas and then distributed by Duke Energy.

According to Bill Sr., “It heats many of the houses in Colerain Township: about 25,000 homes. Certain sections of the landfill settle significant amounts throughout the year.”

Pratt adds that similar, smaller recovery operations, in which landfill gas is converted into electricity, are in operation at two of the landfills in Kentucky, and plans are in the works to do it at the other sites as well.

And in these “green” times, Rumpke Recycling is making strides. Rumpke recycles approximately 2.5 million tires annually. The tires are recycled into smaller 2 x 2 inch chips that can be used as drainage layers on the landfills. Some tires are also shipped to a paper mill and are combined with coal to create tire-derived fuel. Annually, Rumpke recycles about 250,000 tons of materials and 15,000 tons of yard waste. Rumpke Recycling is Ohio’s largest recycler and one of the largest recyclers in the Midwest.

In fact, in the June issue ofWaste Age, Rumpke comes in at No. 15 on the magazine’s annual ranking of the Top 100 Players in the Nation, with $375 million in 2007 revenue and $386 million in projected 2008 revenue.

Rumpke’s founders built their business with the community in mind, says Pratt. “Today, we continue to carry out the tradition that they started by keeping our community informed of the changes that are taking place at Rumpke facilities that are located near the places that our customers call home.

“When there are going to be changes at a Rumpke facility, we work hard to make certain that our neighbors are among the first to know.”

Pratt notes that Rumpke uses the following tools to keep the community informed of facility updates:

• Rumpke will strive to provide updates and add presentations to its website, www.rumpke.com.

• When necessary, Rumpke will place public notice ads in local publications to its community meetings.

• If you missed a meeting, Rumpke can send you the presentation materials upon request.

• Rumpke welcomes the public to tour its facilities (with an advanced reservation).

“It’s very important to us that we become part of the community,” Bill Rumpke Jr. observes. “We understand we’re in a business that people don’t want right next to them all the time, but it’s a very necessary service that helps protect the health and welfare of the people in the community.”nKings of the ‘Fill

From two brothers gathering scraps to feed their pigs, to more than 2,000 employees and nine landfills,

the Rumpkes are the royal family of Cincy trash

By Amy HattersleyYou might think, given its hog farm origins, that Rumpke is all about rural and folksy. But Rumpke employs a variety of technical experts to reach what the firm calls its two most important missions: regulatory compliance and safety.

Rumpke’s engineering and environmental affairs department consists of five full-time site engineers, a CAD designer, an office manager and a hydrologist who report to the director of engineering and environmental affairs. The company also works with several third-party environmental consultants, handling water and air sampling at its various sites.

“The firm employs an extensive corporate safety team consisting of more than 30 individuals,” notes Amanda Pratt, corporate communications manager. “The team includes a loss control manger, Department of Transportation compliance manager and OSHA compliance manager. Outside consultants are used from time to time to provide employees with proper lifting and stretching techniques to cut down on physical injuries.”

The safety group also stays busy conducting training sessions, Pratt adds. Topics range from heat stress and heat exhaustion avoidance to the rules of the road.

And just like the rest of the world, the waste industry relies heavily on software and technology. Rumpke’s I.T. department consists of about 20 individuals who concentrate on software improvements and programs for customer data, truck routing, equipment repair and truck maintenance. The company also has to allow for the variety of public policy procedures they must follow. Rumpke recently went before the Ohio EPA and the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services seeking a permit for a 95-acre expansion of its Colerain Township facility on Hughes Road, as well as a 65-acre “vertical expansion” just east of its main, 234-acre landfill. The EPA granted permits allowing an increase in the emission of dusts and gases at the landfill, which is the nation’s eighth largest.