- Ron Mittelstaedt has taken over as Waste Connections’ president and CEO, the company announced Monday. Worthing Jackman has stepped down from the top role and is no longer a member of the company’s board of directors.
- Mittelstaedt was previously CEO from the time he founded the company in 1997 until 2019. Jackman became CEO in July 2019 as Mittelstaedt transitioned to the role of executive chairman, citing family health matters.
- Mittelstaedt said the leadership change was amicable and not the result of problems at the company. His return to the CEO position will not affect the 2023 full year financial outlook or long-term acquisition strategy, he said during a Monday investor call.
Mittelstaedt characterized his return to the CEO job — a role he described as “permanent” and one he could hold for at least the next five years — as an opportunity to continue the company’s strong culture and operating strategies. While he said Jackman has done “a yeoman's job” of leading the company the last four years, Mittelstaedt said the board felt his own leadership style is better suited to today’s business environment and the company’s plans to “double down on human capital.”
Waste Connections has had an extended period of “outsized” acquisition activity that began in 2016 when it purchased Progressive Waste Solutions, Mittelstaedt said. Following years of ongoing activity, including multiple large regional deals, the company now has over 23,000 employees.
“This is a proactive decision that the board made to make sure that we don't develop cracks in the foundation of the culture and the operating structure of the company. Because once you do, they're hard to fix,” he said during the call.
Though the leadership news came as a surprise to investors and sources, Mittelstaedt said he and Jackman have been working with the board to plan the transition “for some time” and that the abrupt announcement was not the result of financial or personal problems.
During the call, he thanked Jackman for his leadership, calling him “the smartest person I know” and highlighting his work leading the company through the pandemic and times of hyperinflation. “His extensive efforts have helped shape the company we are today, and we all wish him well in his future endeavors," he said.
It’s unclear what Jackman’s next steps will be, but Mittelstaedt hinted on the call that Jackman is not likely to head to a rival company in the near future, pointing to a financial filing this that includes a noncompete agreement set through March 15, 2026.
Jackman joined the company in 2003, but had been acting as the company’s investment banker since 1997. He became CFO in 2004 and was promoted to president in 2018.
Mittelstaedt’s return to CEO will also shuffle some seats on the board of directors. Mittelstaedt will stay on the board, but will no longer serve as executive chairman. Jackman is no longer on the board, and his name won’t be considered during board nominations set to take place during the company’s annual shareholders meeting set for May 19. Waste Connections’ lead independent director, Michael Harlan, is now chairman of the board in a non-executive capacity, according to the news release.
Mittelstaedt stressed that the company is doing well and that the leadership change won’t affect major strategies such as acquisition plans. He has been “intimately involved with Worthing in a variety of strategic acquisitions” even after he stepped back from the CEO role. “We’ve done over 750 transactions in 25-and-a-half years, and I've been involved with every one,” he said.
During the company’s most recent earnings call in February, the company touted its 2022 revenue of $7.21 billion and set its 2023 revenue guidance at $8.05 billion. Waste Connections is scheduled to hold a conference call to report Q1 earnings on April 27.