Back in 1963, Kenny and Agnes Thompson started Thompson’s Sanitary Service with three employees and two dump trucks. Their Newport home served as the office and all the bills were done by hand. Gradually the business grew.
A second generation, Bob and Sandi Thompson, purchased and began operating the business in 1982. One of their first investments was a computer for billing purposes. These days, Thompson’s Sanitary Service is owned and operated by a third generation, Ken Riley and Rob Thompson. Ken and Rob each started working for the company part time when they were boys, stacking newspaper, picking up litter and baling cardboard by hand.
When asked about their company’s success, Ken and Rob are quick to credit their 20 full time employees, some who have been with the company as long as 35 years. Ken and Rob, who each attended Oregon State University, certainly don’t fit the stereotype of quarreling third generation business owners. “I couldn’t think of a better partner,” says Ken. “That’s exactly how I feel,” adds Rob. “My weaknesses tend to be his strengths, and vice versa.”
Today, with 13 garbage trucks, Thompson’s Sanitary Service picks up residential and commercial garbage and recycling in Newport and the near vicinity, and then hauls it to the Willamette Valley and Portland for disposal and recycling.
“In the old days we basically just hauled stuff,” points out Rob. “Now, educating people about recycling opportunities has become a huge part of our job.” The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality establishes recycling goals for different regions of the state. “The waste shed that includes our service area is performing far ahead of DEQ’s goals,” explains Ken. “Our customers have done a great job of embracing recycling and as a company we’ve been able to provide the right services.”
In 2004 Thompson’s Sanitary Service began offering co-mingled curbside recycling, which allows customers to recycle a long list of items simply by placing them in one large, easy to roll, recycling cart. Almost immediately the number of homes recycling jumped from 700 to more than 2000, more than doubling the tonnage recycled each week.
The company provides its customers with simplified instructions for recycling a myriad of different items. It also participates in partnerships such as the PUD Fridge/Freezer Pickup Program and unique environmental services including battery, crayon and fishing net recycling.
“Grandpa taught us the importance of giving back to the community,” explains Ken. Thompson’s Sanitary Service is directly involved in a variety of volunteer community activities including SOLV Oregon River and Beach Cleanups, Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association, Newport High School Boosters, Sam Case/Newport Intermediate Boosters, Newport High School Baseball and Track, Central Coast Soccer Association, Rotary Club of Newport, Newport Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln County Children’s Advocacy Relay for Life, CAN Cancer and Lincoln County Food Share.
Ken and Rob also talk enthusiastically about what a great city Newport is to live in. “We’ve had the chance to travel across the country and we both feel this is the perfect place to raise our families,” points out Ken.
Peek into the cab of any Thompson garbage truck and you’ll see an onboard computer. In recent years the company has been at the forefront of its industry in embracing technology to increase efficiency, which is one of the reasons Thompson’s Sanitary Service does all of its banking with Oregon Coast Bank. “The bank’s IT department helped us develop a system allowing us to scan and deposit checks in our office while simultaneously posting credits to our customers’ accounts,” explains Rob. “I’m also able to manage our accounts anytime from anywhere just by using my iPad or laptop.”
At Oregon Coast Bank we can’t help but admire how Ken and Rob have enthusiastically supported and implemented a wide variety of recycling programs that have made our community a better place, not just today, but for generations to come.
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