Strategy to lead a rapidly growing Midwestern company
Matt Spencer says he’ll draw from his prior experience in the business, which includes working in the field and also a connection with Macquarie to create an idea for Macquarie’s future acquisitions and plans.
Spencer is joining LRS since the company is based in Illinois. has grown rapidly through acquisitions, with the most recent focused upon expanding its footprint in the Chicago area as well as expanding into Michigan as well as Indiana. In February, the company completed the company restructuring designed to help support the “aggressive growth strategy” by increasing the number of leaders within the company, and also establishing new autonomous regions within regions in the Great Lakes area, the Central U.S. and the South. The company employs about 2300 full-time employees, and is present across 10 states.
Spencer’s new job as CEO is part of LRS’s larger leadership shifts. Alan Handley, the previous chief executive officer and president, quit the position at the end of May. LRS also recruited an interim CFO in July.
Spencer has worked for a number of years working in the industry of waste and has worked for companies like WM, Republic Service and WCA Waste before becoming the CEO of Sweeping Corporation of America. In his previous role as COO of WCA He was on the board while the company was pursuing an “significant M&A strategy” before Macquarie bought the company the company to GFL Environmental in 2020. A subsidiary belonging to Macquarie Asset Management also owns LRS.
Waste Dive talked with Spencer in his first week in the role about the way he plans to apply his prior experience in the waste industry and connections with Macquarie to his new position at LRS and his bigger-picture plans for running the company.
This video interview is edited to improve clarity and length.
WASTE DIVE: You’ve had the pleasure of spending many years in the field of waste. With all of that knowledge, what kind of strategy are you applying to the CEO position as you’re now with LRS?
Matthew Spencer:What I’ve learned from the experience is actually two parts.
The beginning of my journey was working in the field. I started as a route manager, taking trucks out on routes, and nearly every job that fall under the general manager’s umbrella. As a general manager throughout the first part of my career provided me with an incredible perspective on the importance of our customers and how vital our employees are.
These field operations are the driving force behind solid waste companies and is at the point where rubber meets road. When we’re trying to resolve problems or think about potential opportunities and analyzing processes, growth, the ability to scale, and endurance, it’s time to head into the field. This is where the majority of our opportunities exist and where the majority of our questions are addressed.
The most recent of the eight to nine years of my career have been spent in executive leadership. This has prepared me for the role I currently hold. I’ve broken it down into five categories. The first one is setting the direction of the strategy of the business. Where does the company go? Where’s our North Star? And what sources we’ll use to reach it?
Keep up-to-date with the news. Join The Waste Dive free daily newsletter
Email: Sign up
The second is aligning the company and making sure that we have the right people in the correct tasks. The third is mobilizing the leadership team, and prioritizing the must-win battles that we’ll be focusing on the value-creation of the company.
The fourth one is working and working with a board. Of course, a board of directors will always serve as a guide to the business and serve as a business partner, but the leadership team and management team are the ones who run the business. We’re looking to leverage the knowledge and experience of our board to assist us in growing and creating a sustainable business. Fifth is driving shareholder value and stakeholder value.
You’re entering LRS right after the company’s corporate restructuring. How do you integrate your larger ideas on leadership in LRS’s visionary as well as restructuring strategies?
It’s going extremely, very well. I’m extremely fortunate that I was able to enter the door and that the building was in the right place. Our chief operating officer, John Larsen, spearheaded that and was working with a number of other board members as well as our leadership team for our field direction.
The idea and plan of this structure is to place resources where employees are and where our customers are. We also ensure that our field leaders, also known as general managers, are supported by a system that can execute at a high level. Overall, I think it’s a great structure that reflects the existing structures I’ve been in.