Quality customer service has always been key to the success of The City Bin Co. and will remain to the forefront during the company’s recently announced plans for expansion, CEO Gene Browne tells Lorraine O’Hanlon.
Oranmore-headquartered waste collection operators The City Bin Co. last month announced the creation of 35 new jobs in Galway and Dublin as part of a €15 million partnership with Averda, the largest private environmental solutions provider in the Middle East, Gulf Cooperation Council and North Africa.
Marking Averda’s first entry into Europe, the partnership will result in the roll out of a major European expansion over the coming years with Ireland as the company’s European headquarters.
The expansion is a long-held ambition for The City Bin Co.’s CEO Gene Browne, who co-founded the company in 1997 with business partner Glenn Ward and who has been working on the internationalisation of the company model since 2008.
“We always had ambition to get beyond Galway. When we started the company, we called it The City Bin Co. because it travels,” he says, explaining that the company’s business model can be applied to waste collection services internationally.
The City Bin Co. has been named one of Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies in Ireland for the past four years in a row, becoming a Gold Standard Award Winner this year, and Mr Browne says it’s important for Irish entrepreneurs to recognise that “Irish companies are every bit as good as any other companies in the world”.
“You have to work a bit harder because you’re on the periphery of Europe so you don’t have the market on your doorstep, you have to do that extra bit to prove yourself,” he says, adding that while he is proud of The City Bin Co.’s achievements, it is also important for entrepreneurs to stay “humble” and “grounded”.
With a background in quality management, Mr Browne explains that his interest has always lain with delivering customer-centred service, regardless of the product. With this in mind, The City Bin Co. entered the home heating oil business last year.
“Tomorrow, if we were delivering milk, it would be the same whole philosophy and machine behind it. It’s just a different product or service offering, it’s all about how the actual service is delivered. That’s where it is for us, we live and die by that,” he says, highlighting the importance of the ‘the customer is king’ service ethos to the company, as evidenced by its client feedback site – www.citybin.com/wow.
Another example is the company’s decision to celebrate five years serving South Dublin in September by rewarding its first ever Dublin customer with flowers, a specially designed cake, champagne and free waste collection for the next five years.
While Wellpark native Mr Browne stresses the importance of The City Bin Co.’s Galway roots, the company is also currently expanding its waste collection service across Dublin City and is looking at projects in the UK with Averda. In addition, it is planning to commercialise its own software for use in other waste companies overseas.
Another unique aspect of The City Bin Co.’s operations is that positions within the company are first offered to customers, with job details emailed to their large domestic customer base, guaranteeing that potential future employees will be familiar with the company’s operating ethos.
The City Bin Co. places a particular emphasis on personal development of staff and Mr Browne explains that its senior team have all been supporting in completing MBAs and other business qualifications. The company also operates an internal ‘learning academy’.
“You have to keep upskilling yourself. Anything you learn, whether it’s in college or professionally, has a kind of currency. The guy coming out five years later is going to be sharper than you are and you have to keep unlearning and relearning. We here are big believers in that,” says Mr Browne.