- Waste Management announced it has named James C. Fish Jr. as the company's new president and CEO, marking the end of David Steiner's 12-year run as the company's chief executive. Fish, who has worked at Waste Management for 15 years and most recently served as CFO, has also been elected to the company's Board of Directors.
- W. Robert Reum, non-executive chairman of the board, said in a press release that Fish was chosen for the position because he "has a deep understanding of ... strategy, impressive financial and operational acumen and strong support from employees, customers and investors."
- It is unclear if David Steiner will have any involvement with the company following this shift in leadership. Waste Management is now in search for a new CFO, but Fish will continue to lead financial operations in the interim.
While Reum notes in a press release that this announcement comes after a planning process that was "started 18 months ago with the support of the entire Board," the news is still bound to send shockwaves across the industry. Steiner held the position as the top waste management company's CEO since 2004 and did not make a comment in the company's press release announcing the change, indicating that there may be tension among company officials.
Since early 2016, Steiner has been transparent about the obstacles that Waste Management has been facing with recycling, as the company has shuttered one-fifth of its recycling facilities since 2014. While this mirrors broader industry trends of financial burdens, such as low commodity prices, it will be interesting to see how a leader with a strong financial background will mitigate these problems. In Waste Management's recent third quarter earnings call, Steiner noted the company is restructuring recycling contracts due to an uptick in the market, however COO Jim Trevathan said the company will never go back to the old style of recycling operations.
The industry has seen many other impactful leadership changes in just the past month, starting with the resignation of Chuck Rizzo Jr., founder of Rizzo Environmental Services. Just this week, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) President and CEO Sharon Kneiss also resigned from her leadership position, along with Vice President Chris Doherty. With such turnovers in management it is important that industry officials stay focused and conduct seamless transitions in order for operations to keep running smoothly.