We had the good fortune of connecting with Kevin Atkinson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kevin, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
People tend to perceive the garbage industry as being run by a bunch of mobsters when in reality some of the best people around are involved. I tell everyone this is a great industry to be in because of the people, whether it be a competitor who you can go head to head against and then turn around and catch up over a beer with, or the dedicated people on the front lines who go out every day, rain or shine, heat or cold, and proudly service our customers.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I joke that I have been a garbageman for 15 years or 35 years depending on how you look at it. I was the kid that grew up literally chasing the garbage truck up and down the street. I had a fleet of toy trash trucks, and I realize now my mom was the one that made the most of my fascination by telling me the weeds in the flowerbeds was the trash that needed to be collected. Free gardening service for a few years. Having never completely grown out of this fascination, I came home for summer break after my freshman year at LSU, and not wanting to earn minimum wage sacking groceries, called the number on my parent’s recycling bin. Three days later I was on the back of a garbage truck slinging trash for WCA. I was able to come back and work for holidays and summer breaks, earning my commercial driver’s license and driving, all through college. After college, they brought me on as a trainee, working my way up to Operations Manager and later Assistant General Manager for the Houston area. An opportunity presented itself in 2013 to leave and start my own company, and from that Texas Pride Disposal was born. We started with 1,200 subscription customers, 2 trucks, and 5 employees. Fast forward to today, and we are servicing about 225,000 customers with a fleet of 100 trucks and 240 employees.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston is great. As an outsider, I can understand why people’s initial perception of Houston can be a bit fuzzy. But when you really learn all Houston has to offer, it is a gem. First of all, our food is exceptional. El Tiempo for Mexican food and margaritas, Aka for sushi, B&B for a steak, Federal Grill for a solid meal and whiskey, The Hay Merchant for Korean braised goat and dumplings and the best burger in town, and of course, Velvet Taco for late night. To get to the late night, the great collection of bars the City has to offer is also great. NettBar, Eight Row Flint, Down the Street, Ladybirds, Little Woodrows. And don’t forget the breweries: Brash, Urban South, Ingenious, Saint Arnold, Karbach, Sigma, Local Group, 8th Wonder. In between all of that, there is plenty to do between concerts, sporting events, golf courses, and the museums. And as a bonus, a day trip to Galveston or Austin are a breeze.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I really hope this is not meant for just one person! It takes a village, right? My parents, Tom and Sue Atkinson, for raising me how they did, allowing me to chase my dreams, and supporting me through everything. My beautiful girlfriend, Eden Thomas, who has stuck by me and supported me and watched Texas Pride Disposal transform into what it is today. My business partner, Jerry Kruszka, for being a tremendous mentor and providing unwavering guidance. And most importantly, to every single Texas Pride Disposal employee, because without them, we are nothing.