Another 25 years of truckin'
Twenty-five years ago Dan Giles decided to leave the insurance biz, close the closet door on his suits and ties and buy the family business. The former W.T. Grant and Prudential Insurance man purchased Giles Rubbish from his father, Irving Giles, on March 1, 1987, and incorporated it.
“In a suit and tie I had plenty of doors shut in my face. But now, people are so happy to see me,” Giles said. “I knew dad wanted to sell and to pass the business on to me. At first I tried driving a few Sundays and keeping my insurance job. But after being prescribed my fifth high blood pressure medication it was time to move on,” Giles said, jokingly.
By the time Dan Giles took over the steering wheel, his father had been operating the business since 1960. Irving bought the business from his brother Philip, who died just 1 year after establishing Giles Rubbish. Before then, folks in the Boothbay region had several small dumping sites, including one on Southport, on the Beath Road, and the dump/landfill on Country Club Road (now the Boothbay Region Refuse District).
Today Giles Rubbish is as much a family business as it ever was. Dan Giles' sister Bev Giles McFarland (who also worked for their father)and daughter Shannon Giles Pinkham work in the office; his son Ryan began working for the company in 1992 driving and working in the shop. Dan Giles used to drive one of the trucks himself until last year.
Over the last 25 years the fleet of trucks has increased from 5 in 1987 to 12 in 2012. There are five full-time drivers, Ryan, Peter Turner, Kevin Lewis (who drove 5-6 years for Irving Giles), Quinton Plummer and new hire, Dave Chapman; and two part-time drivers, Gary Lewis and Ted Irish.
Today the company serves between 1,600 and 1,650 customers, including the summer population, on five basic routes. Naturally it takes a lot of diesel to fuel the trucks, and if you think you have miles per gallon problems, try this on for size: Giles estimated the company spends between
$1,200 and $1,400 per week just for diesel. Most of the trucks get a whopping 3 to 4 miles per gallon; except for the new 2009 with 4.4 miles per gallon.
“I just have the greatest people working for me,” Dan Giles said of his employees. “We are carrying on a family tradition and service is everything.”
In 1990, Giles Rubbish began offering its recycling service. Giles bought a box truck and set up bins for each recycled item. Customers were given a recycling bin for newspaper, #2 plastics, American corrugated cardboard, magazines, and glass. Bins for the recycling items were built-in the truck and hand sorted by drivers. Customers were charged a refundable $10 deposit for their bin. All recycling was brought to the Boothbay Region Refuse Disposal District.
“I thought 80 percent of our customers would commit to recycling. We sent a letter to our customers asking them to commit to six months of recycling in advance and about 900 of them did,” Giles said.
“That year the refuse district made recycling mandatory and we were just trying to provide the best service we could. There is a misconception out there that we make money on recycling; we don't. We haul for the customers and give it to the transfer station.”
Giles said the trust customers have in his employees is testimony to the relationship that exists between both parties. Sometimes customers may not be able to get their bins out to the road due to illness or simply old age; no worries, Giles' drivers will pick up the bins and trash bags in their basement, barn or garage.
“I always tell my guys I have three requirements: be honest; be on time; and be gentle with the equipment,” Giles said.
Giles shared some fan mail. The following was written by Lorraine R. Eberhardt: “Mr. Giles, You have been our trash man ever since we came here and (I) couldn't ask for better. Besides, where could you get another Kevin? You probably didn't even know but when my husband died and I was not at all well, I had no idea how I could take my can to the road. I called your wife (Phyllis) and she said I could leave it in the barn and Kevin would get it there. I think she represents a very fine group of people.”
Wrote Joyce Bell of Edgecomb, “I believe these men just look for opportunities to help others. Your company has many treasures in the people whom I have had the privilege to interact with …Thank you for having such wonderful hearts to go along with your helping hands.”
The crew at Giles Rubbish has always seemed dedicated and hard-working, but never let it be said they don't like to play. Giles recalled a fond memory dating back to the 1993 Windjammer Days Street Parade and the company's entry, which raised more than a few eyebrows.
“We thought we'd have some fun,” Giles said. “There was this country and western song, “I Like My Women (A Little On the Trashy Side) by Jerry Jeff Walker, We had a bunch of young girls, my daughter was one of em, wearing trash bags on top of bales of hay. We called the float Trashy Little Women. They were singing and dancing to the song played from a boom box …. We actually won an award, but I don't remember the category!”
Giles Rubbish works seven days a week in season and six days a week in the off season. Giles said he doesn't want to “retire retire,” but he would like to gradually fade out of it.
“If my children don't want it, I'd like someone local to buy it. I've been approached by big companies that wanted to buy me out that I have turned down because we have different philosophies,” Giles said. “One guy told me we do everything but take the scraps off people's tables for them when I told them we go down private roads or other places on a customer's property. They say they wouldn't have time for that.”
People in the region know Dan Giles; the company's service is reminiscent of that of days gone by, Dan Giles' wife Phyllis said.
“There's this mentality out there of Its every man for himself; if I come out on top that's OK, but we're not that way,” Phyllis said.
“There's a line in a country song that says, 'We're just keeping a family tradition, my grandfather was trusted, my father was trusted' … Its a lot of hard work, but it is very rewarding,” Giles said.