MS Company Makes Strides as Medical Waste Solution
GreenServ is doing a big job unnoticed – and they like it that way.
For most healthcare professionals, biomedical waste isn’t something one thinks about often. The founders of a startup waste disposal company would like to keep it that way.
“It’s kind of an out-of-sight, out-of-mind service — until it’s not,” said John Alford, who launched GreenServ Inc. in Oxford three years ago with partner Will Fountain.
“If you’re a healthcare provider, you’re required by the Department of Health to have a contracted arrangement to dispose of your medical waste,” Alford said. “We saw that there was room in the market for someone who could provide extremely good customer service and fair pricing. Starting this venture also gave us a chance to create jobs here in Mississippi.”
Since its launch in 2012, GreenServ has acquired 320 customers in Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. It’s working to grow to 900 customers by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the founders take nearly as much pride in the number of customers they’ve lost since the beginning: Only five.
“Each of those has been a situation where their clinic was acquired by a larger chain or it closed,” Alford said. “We feel like that track record speaks for itself.”
In its relationship with customers, GreenServ bypasses a common frustration with biomedical waste companies — long-term contracts that are a hassle to get out of. Instead, the company simply operates off of service agreements.
“We feel like if we can’t serve you with a competitive price and really good customer service, and you feel like you need to leave, then you should have that right,” Fountain said.
Both Fountain and Alford come from a background in medical device sales and marketing, and maintain full-time jobs outside of GreenServ. Fountain is originally from Greenville and settled in Oxford 12 years ago after living out-of-state. He is currently a regional sales manager for Medtronic’s endoVenus division.
Alford, a native of Oxford, has worked in the orthopedic implant industry for 25 years. He and his wife, a nurse, own Sonrise Medical LLC, a durable medical equipment sales and service company focused on post-operative orthopedic rehabilitation equipment.
“Having spent so much time in the medical market, I saw that medical waste not something that is on everybody’s radar, but it is something everyone has to deal with,” Alford said.
“I would walk past medical waste receptacles and never pay any attention to them. But once Will and I started looking at it, we realized how big an opportunity there was in the market for someone who could do this well.”
The two men made market research a priority as they considered entering the business.
“You’ve got to do your homework,” said Alford, thinking of other Mississippians who would venture to start a business in a healthcare-related field.
“You get a good business plan, and then the conviction that you’re going to execute this,” he said. “You’re going to have naysayers telling you, ‘You can’t compete with these guys.’ We’ve heard all that. But you have to believe you can do it. And having a partnership where you have two people helping to drive the business has been invaluable.”
In getting GreenServ off the ground, Alford and Fountain were easily able to bring their marketing know-how to bear — but knew they needed to tap outside knowledge when it came to the logistics of transportation and technology. They reached out to friends in the transportation industry and pooled resources to figure out what was needed.
“In this industry, you have to have the operations streamlined and have processes in place to take care of day-to-day tasks, like managing drivers and fuel,” Alford said. “We’ve focused a lot of energy into putting processes and systems in place. We now have one complete system in which everything is integrated — from the time we pick up from the customer to the time we dispose of the waste.”
In addition to streamlining things from an operations standpoint, GreenServ’s integrated system also makes it easy for customers to confirm their compliance with medical waste regulations.
“We integrated a compliance program through which customers can manage everything from their required HIPAA and Bloodborne Pathogens training to creating OSHA-required safety plans,” Fountain said. “Our goal is to provide resources for the customer and be a complete solution.”
Since getting its start with one truck and 100 customers by the end of 2012, GreenServ has grown to 13 employees and five trucks. The company’s target is to add another seven jobs and grow to serve 900 customers by the end of 2015.
Lucy Schultze – MS Medical News.