Mountain State Waste, headquartered in Weston, West Virginia, provides residential and commercial waste management services to the mountain state and beyond. Mountain State Waste Vice President, J.P. Phillips, talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about the waste management business, the barriers he’s going up against and his advice for young entrepreneurs.
Phillips, a graduate of Marshall University, has 20 years experience in the solid waste industry and is the current president of the Independent Association of Waste Haulers and Recyclers.
How did you get started in this line of work?
“Most people are born in the waste industry,” Phillips said. “I was going to school at Marshall and we were living in a dorm room and all of my buddies wanted to get a house for the summer. I called my mom and dad and told them what was happening and they said ‘that’s fine, but you have to pay for it’ and so I got my resume together and sent out some feelers.”
“Then, I got a call at 9:30 in the morning and this lady called and asked if I wanted to come in for an interview at General Refuse Services, and I said sure. I hung up and told my roommate that it sounded like a stinking old garbage company, and sure enough, it was. That was in 1999 and that’s what I’ve done ever since then.”
What barriers are you going up against?
“I talk about with peers and business owners and it seems like we have the same major challenge, especially here in West Virginia,” Phillips said. “With us being in the transportation business and needing specialized commercial drivers, our biggest issue is recruiting well-qualified people to operate our equipment and trucks.”
“It’s tough because we compete against the oil and gas industry in West Virginia. Where we can’t compete financially with wages, we try to find guys are looking to spend more time with their family because you know when you’re working and when you get off.
What is one piece of advice you would give a young entrepreneur?
“West Virginia is a tough place to do business, there is no doubt,” Phillips said. “Because of the rural nature of the state and the small population, you could go somewhere else and seek other opportunities, but something you don’t get is the state of West Virginia. It’s home and there is no place that I would rather live and raise a family. I think that is a part of West Virginia that people don’t see. The big opportunity that other places don’t offer that West Virginia does is the lifestyle.”
Phillips was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.
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