- Deffenbaugh Industries and Town & Country Disposal are citing a driver shortage as the main reason for their recent collection issues in the Kansas City area.
- Numerous local governments have complained about late collections. After recent problems in Wyandotte County, the local government decided to send out 12 trucks to catch up on collections and plans to bill Deffenbaugh for the service.
- While both companies are working to hire new employees, these issues could affect future business operations. The city of Prairie Village's contract with Deffenbaugh is up for renewal soon and multiple companies have already expressed interest in bidding on it.
These issues began last fall and some attribute them to the two companies being purchased by larger entities. Waste Management purchased Deffenbaugh for $416 million last year, though the company says this isn't a factor in the collection issues. Town & Country — which was purchased by WCA Waste Corp. in October — admitted that it lost drivers after applying federal compliance standards for maximum hour requirements, physicals, and drug tests, according to The Kansas City Star.
Both companies have since hired new drivers and continue their efforts to recruit more. Town & Country said it has increased wages by 20%, but some of its new employees aren't familiar with refuse collection and will need 30 to 45 days of safety training. Deffenbaugh said drivers can earn between $40,000 to $60,000 per year and receive a $4,500 signing bonus.
As the national driver shortage continues, companies are looking at a variety of ways to make the job more appealing. Some see a move toward automated collection as one way to do this, but new trucks are expensive and not every municipality is able to make the switch. Manufacturers such as Mack Trucks and International Truck have seen this limit their sales and are also working on new ways to improve the driving experience.