Waste Management, a national company based in Texas, acquired Oak Grove Disposal last week for an undisclosed amount.

Effective Aug. 1, the company, with more than 20 million customers, acquired Oak Grove’s recycling and waste collection services for the city of Milwaukie and parts of unincorporated Clackamas County. Waste Management already provides services to more than 3,000 Milwaukie and 20,000 unincorporated county residents.

For customers in the area seeing a change in their garbage-service billing name, initially it will be “business as usual,” said Waste Management spokeswoman Robin L. Freedman.

“We expect a smooth transition,” Freedman said. “Oak Grove, a well-respected company, provided excellent services, and our goal is to meet or exceed that level of service for our new customers.”

In 1948, William and Edith Spady purchased a garbage company consisting of one open-box truck, two drivers, about 2,000 semi-rural customers and a handful of commercial accounts on McLoughlin Boulevard. They saw Oak Grove Disposal grow to a fleet of 15 trucks plus eight satellite vehicles, 28 employees and more than 10,000 customers.

During her 35 years at the helm, Edith Spady’s proudest accomplishments were the introduction of right-hand drive, step-in cabs in the big trucks that became standard statewide and purchasing the satellite Cushman Scooters that cost about one-tenth of what a large truck costs and got 10 times better gas mileage.

Since 2001, Oak Grove Disposal terminated the use of scooters to conform with industry standards, began hauling yard debris, provided roller carts and tripled its fleet of vehicles in order to accommodate this form of automated pickup.

“We have certainly had the opportunity to evolve and develop with the times and have, in spite of the automation and growth of the community, sought to retain personalized, individual connection to our customers in spite of the automated trends of the industry at large,” said Oregon City resident Sha Spady.

In addition to Oak Grove, Waste Management recently has acquired similar companies throughout the Portland area, including Gruetter Sanitary and Trashmasters in Multnomah County. Freedman noted that on a regular basis, small haulers contact Waste Management, which assesses whether the potential acquisitions provide good growth opportunities.

"We assess the opportunity and decide whether it makes good business sense to procure a company," she said. “Our job is to help communities and businesses achieve their sustainability goals. Since we are a service provider in Clackamas County and the city of Milwaukie, this acquisition was a natural fit.”

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