Carter Mayfield- SOS Liquid Waste Haulers

Out of all the interviews I’ve done with various liquid waste companies, Carter Mayfield of SOS Liquid Waste Haulers has to be absolutely one of the nicest people I’ve chatted with. His company has undergone some exciting changes in recent months, which is why we’ve decided at American Liquid Waste Magazine to do a quick updated “spotlight” feature on his well deserving company. They are located in the great state of Texas, more specifically in the San Antonio area. Let’s check-in with Carter to see what’s new and exciting with his septic company.

We heard you had some big news lately?
Yes, We sold to South Waste Disposal Texas. It’s part of a roll-up and merger process. Although, we didn’t anticipate how much work it would be. The due diligence process is intense. The paperwork has to be in order in the right way. The liquid waste business is maintenance down the line, so the due diligence is beyond extenuating. They look through all of it. It was tough. All aspects were audited. We’re really excited now that we’re past all of that and working with the parent company. One company. Together. It’s a pretty exciting time for us.

Is your management staff going to change that much?
Part of why we decided to sell was the fact that my father had just turned 75 years old, and he was looking to pare back his work hours and eventually retire. We are now transitioning some of his responsibilities to our up and coming managers. He loves the company and is still very much involved, but is now less focused on day-to-day administrative matters. The partnership with WRM has also allowed me to take on a more executive role. Once the transition is complete, my father will consult and advise WRM, while I will be working on our overall strategy and business development, including identifying and integrating additional companies into the WRM family.
We were a small business and woke up one day to find ourselves a medium-sized business. We had a difficult time delegating and hadn’t brought in a large enough staff of middle managers. This sale changes that, giving us some administrative support in areas such as HR and compliance while allowing us to focus on the core business and play to our strengths.
Jason Breithaupt, who had served as Chief Operating Officer of SOS, is now the Central Texas Market Manager for the combined company, including Southwaste (the Texas brand for WRM). His role has broadened as he oversees operations for a much larger business and a larger area, including a new facility to be built in Austin.

How about any benefits or perks for your staff?
WRM has a 401k plan with a generous contribution match, and all of our employees are eligible to participate. We always wanted to create a similar retirement plan, but never implemented it because we were too busy running day to day operations. What I like about the 401k is that while not all people will put a value on it, the employees with an eye to the future will… and those are the type of employees you want to attract and retain. Our team is very excited about it.

Do you feel this is going to make you more competitive in the industry?
Without a doubt, our combined company is now the strongest and largest provider in the central Texas region, which enables us to provide the most comprehensive and highest quality service to our customers. WRM’s advanced IT systems will allow us to be more effective and efficient. On the same token, SOS is bringing advanced plumbing capabilities to the WRM customer base. The combination of grease trap and drain-line plumbing is unique and allows us to retain customers by providing a one-stop shop for commercial drain-line needs.
For example, we had a customer call in last week who was a WRM customer. Their grease trap was overflowing and they wanted it pumped out, but I told them that I would put a truck on standby and send a plumber to hydrojet the lines instead. The customer was uneasy with that solution until they met our technicians and found that this was a problem with the plumbing lines, not the grease trap. The customer was so impressed that we saved them money and solved their problem that they wanted to sign up for regular preventative maintenance hydrojet service. Now that we are one company, we can provide this type of integrated, comprehensive service to all of our customers.

Anything else?

1. Timing
For people looking to sell their businesses, I think there is a right time. We had our best two years in our companies history, but we were having a difficult time figuring out how to expand the business beyond the San Antonio area. Ultimately, we felt we couldn’t make our business worth much more without significant change and investment, and a sale made more sense for us.

2. The Right Partner
Another important thing to bear in mind is to find the right partner to sell to. WRM did not have the highest cash offer for our business, but we ultimately chose to sell to them because we felt that theirs was the “best offer.” Their philosophy best aligned with ours and we just trusted them more. You are going to invest a lot of time and energy into the process of selling your company, so you better trust the people you are doing business with. We established that trust with WRM, which made all of the difference in the world. Very seldom are deals 100% cash up front, so you need to have the trust that you will ultimately be paid what you agreed to.

3. The Process
For those unfamiliar with the process of selling your company, the first step is submitting financial and other information to a potential buyer. After you and the buyer agree to an initial value, you go through a detailed due diligence process. It can be very thorough, and takes a lot of management time and focus not to mention the attorney’s fees. You will have no secrets left, competitive or otherwise by the end of it, which is why it is so important to trust the people you are considering selling to.
Things may come up during the due diligence process that could cause some adjustments to the original deal terms, including things you may not have known existed or you had forgotten about. Expect that to happen going into a deal. We felt like WRM was fair with dealing with the items that came up and we were glad that we chose them, even though they did not have the highest cash offer for our business. Again, this is why being able to trust the buyer is so important.

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