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Waste Connections acquiring E.L. Harvey & Sons in notable New England expansion

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UPDATE: September 2, 2021: Waste Connections confirmed the acquisition of E.L. Harvey & Sons, the largest family-run solid waste company in Massachusetts, estimating its annual revenue to be around $110 million.

“The Harvey family has established one of the most respected companies in our industry, and we are honored to welcome Harvey to the Waste Connections family. Together with their continuing leadership team, we look forward to carrying on the Harvey name and further expanding its market position, as well as enhancing its strong culture of support for its employees, customers and communities,” said CEO Worthing Jackman in a statement.

Dive Brief:

  • August 30: Waste Connections is acquiring E.L. Harvey & Sons, a large Massachusetts-based waste and recycling company, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the regional market. 
  • President Ben Harvey declined to comment, executives at Waste Connections did not respond to a request for comment as of publishing time and financial terms have not been disclosed. Waste Connections registered a new corporate entity, Waste Connections of Massachusetts, with the state Aug. 26.
  • E.L. Harvey runs an estimated 120 collection vehicles servicing customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, according to a recent Waste Today profile. The company has around 350 employees running multiple transfer and recycling facilities in Massachusetts, including a single-stream MRF and C&D recycling operations.

Dive Insight:

Financial analysts and waste industry leaders have been projecting a period of heightened M&A activity this year, with many family-owned companies looking to sell ahead of pending federal tax changes. The sale of this well-known, multigenerational player is the latest example of that trend ramping up around the country.

According to E.L. Harvey & Sons’ website, the company was founded in 1911 by Emory Larkin Harvey and initially focused on livestock rather than waste or recycling. The company later went on to launch a scrap collection business, operate two municipal landfills (which are now closed), build its own facilities and acquire smaller companies in the area. Recent highlights include the construction of a new C&D recycling facility in 2007 and a large single-stream MRF in 2013.

The company’s website touts more than 4,000 commercial customers, along with multiple municipal collection contracts for residential waste. Other business lines include roll-off service, organics collection and depackaging, electronics recycling and document destruction. 

In recent years, E.L. Harvey leaders have attracted the attention of several media outlets for their thoughts on China’s scrap import restrictions and the company’s efforts to find new market options. The company has also been closely involved with multiple waste and recycling trade groups, including Ben Harvey’s role as chair of the National Waste & Recycling Association’s Board of Trustees.

Last year, E.L. Harvey was hit hard by the pandemic’s initial effects, like many others in the sector, leading to temporary furloughs. Federal data indicates the company received a forgivable loan of more than $4.2 million in April 2020 through the Paycheck Protection Program.

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This expansion creates a strong platform for Waste Connections’ northward push into New England, following a round of smaller deals in recent years centered on the Rhode Island market that gave it a small presence over the border in southern Massachusetts. Harvey’s current footprint fits with the Waste Connections model of focusing more on secondary markets outside major population centers, though it does have some presence around the greater Boston market, and sources expect that area could be a target for further acquisition by the company.

New England is currently a hot market for M&A activity. Some factors driving that trend are the increasingly tight disposal capacity and active recycling policy shifts in multiple states. The area also still appears to have more small, private company acquisition targets than some other regions. Recent examples of this trend include a push by Casella Waste Systems back into Connecticut via acquisition, Republic Services’ purchase of a key rail transfer and C&D operation in Massachusetts, WIN Waste Innovations’ purchase of sizable regional companies around New England and multiple deals by Boston Carting Services.

Earlier this month, during Waste Connections’ third-quarter earnings call, the company reported closing at least 14 deals to date worth an estimated $115 million in annual revenue. CEO Worthing Jackman said he expected deals in multiple states to close over the months ahead, including ones offering the potential to enter “many new markets.” One deal has since closed in Nevada.

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