Ecotech is the largest, locally-owned, privately-held, solid waste disposal company in the Louisville and Southern Indiana region, and its deep roots within this area set the business apart.
“We know the community; we know the people; we know the businesses; we know the metro city mayors and have mutually beneficial relationships with them,” says Echo Tech President Robert (Bobby) Lee. “Growing partnerships we have garnered over the years has given Ecotech the opportunity to grow with the community and to provide a benefit to all that use our services.”
Because the owners were born and raised in the area, they have formed a company culture “of wanting to help others and to solve issues that occur within the solid waste, recycling, and disposal industry for the region,” Lee adds. “We have a pride and the ability to make Louisville and Southern Indiana a great place to reside, being that we have grown up here.”
Service is another particularly important aspect that sets the company apart. “When a customer calls, they get a live person that knows the area and our services and can better answer their needs,” Lee says. “The Ecotech employee wants to help the customer and will do whatever it takes to get the solution, even if it requires getting other team members involved. Senior management is always available to help, no matter the customer, no matter the circumstances.”
To ensure service remains top-notch in every circumstance, the team strives to meet the inevitable challenges that come with running a business. “Challenges develop daily,” Lee says. “The difference between Ecotech and others is that when mistakes happen, we fix them in a timely manner and ensure that the mistake does not happen again. Quality service is what we strive for with every customer, no matter the size.”
Creative problem solving is another differentiating factor. “Ecotech can think outside the box and do more for our customers,” Lee says. “Yes, we specialize in solid waste and recycling, but when a customer needs more and doesn’t have a clue what to do, we will go out of our way to find them the proper help or will do the job ourselves. From operating heavy equipment to helping with a project to paper shredding for local cities, we try to be the one-stop-shop for everyone. We provide solutions for all that we can handle.”
Another defining feature of Echo Tech is the team’s commitment to philanthropic endeavors. “One of Ecotech’s missions from inception was to give back, be it through donations, community work, or hosting events for those in need,” Lee says. “Having the opportunity and the ability to help those in need has been a focus for all Ecotech employees and shows in everything we do.”
For example, in 2012, Henryville, Indiana was hit hard by a devastating tornado. “Many lives were changed, and many homes were destroyed,” Lee says. “Ecotech was one of the main providers for helping with the cleanup and helping others get their lives back. Many of the Ecotech employees volunteered and worked thirty days straight to provide some comfort to those in need in the area. We were involved in cleaning and disposing of the debris, helping residents sort through the rubble to salvage personal items they could, and doing whatever it took to help bring some hope from the tragedies the tornado brought about.”
After supporting the Henryville tornado victims, the company launched the 10,000 Trees initiative to help restore the local foliage and beautify the area. The team pledged to plant 10,000 trees in ten years, starting in Henryville. Since then, they have planted trees in nearly every community throughout the Louisville and Southern Indiana region, with a total of 8,900 trees planted so far. The plan is to reach 10,000 trees by 2023.
Lee has special needs family members, which inspired him to support the special needs community since Echo Tech was founded. This commitment began with donating and supporting the Special Olympics and Dreams with Wings. Four years ago, his grandson Trystan was diagnosed with Autism, and the team decided to take their efforts a step further to “spread awareness of all special needs individuals,” Lee remembers.
“Ecotech has become ‘the puzzle piece’ company. We have branded our trucks with the Autism puzzle pieces to help spread the message that special needs individuals and individuals on the spectrum are just like everyone else. Supporting and helping the families with these individuals should be supported by all.”
Currently, ten Ecotech employees have special needs family members. “We have incorporated those families in the events we host and participate in to not only help them but let them be a part of the special needs community and to provide them with resources to help their families when needed,” Lee says.
For the past two years, Ecotech has hosted a sensory-friendly meet-and-greet with Santa Claus in partnership with the local non-profits Barren Heights and Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT). When the pandemic hit, the team set up a drive-through bay in the truck shop with lights and decorations, so children could get their picture taken with Santa Claus and tell him what they wanted for Christmas from the safety of their vehicle.
Last year, the team was able to set aside a room where children and their families could take all the time they needed to have a one-on-one meet and greet with Santa Claus without the stress of a crowd. They also created an elf workshop where participants could make crafts, play games, enjoy a snack, and celebrate the holidays with other special needs families.
In 2021, the event welcomed 135 children, and the team is eager to expand the celebration this year. “We invite all, not just special needs, to be a part of the meet and greet and to volunteer their time to help make it a special time for all children,” Lee adds.
In 2021, Ecotech won FEAT’s Autism Friendly Business of the Year award. “What this means is that our company has been set up to employ and help those with special needs work at our company,” Lee explains. “Having a sensory-friendly room as well as accommodating their needs is part of becoming an autism-friendly workplace.”
Three years ago, it launched a program where employees could voluntarily donate $1.00 or more from their weekly paycheck. “Each quarter, we choose a foundation or a cause to donate to,” Lee says. Ecotech matches the amount donated from employee paychecks during that time.
Each quarter’s recipient can vary greatly, depending on current needs. For instance, during the pandemic, the company purchased 600 meals for front-line workers at a local hospital “that were a major support and help during the COVID crisis.” Ecotech has also used employee donations to help build an accessible park for special needs kids in Georgetown Indiana. In addition, it has been FEAT’s 5K Run for Autism’s premier sponsor for two years.
Ecotech has exciting plans for the future. With the rising price of fuel as a driving motivation, the company is currently in the process of implementing a compressed natural gas (CNG) station at its shop, which will be able to fill up to seventy-five trucks. “The CNG station will not only help us with our fuel cost but will also help reduce our carbon footprint,” Lee says. The team expects to complete the station by the fourth quarter of 2022. Ecotech currently boasts twenty-five CNG trucks and plans to convert all front load and residential trucks to CNG.
Despite recent challenges from the pandemic and the ongoing worker shortage, Ecotech continues to grow and thrive. “Ecotech has obtained double-digit growth every year for the past six years,” Lee says. “Though 2022 has been a little slower due to the economic crisis, we have positioned ourselves with the proper equipment and employees to grow each line of business and support our customers and community for many years to come.”
The owners are set on keeping that commitment to the local community, despite potentially lucrative opportunities to sell. “With all the mergers and acquisitions in the market, many have asked us if we plan to sell,” Lee says. “No, we do not. In 2023, Ecotech will be in business for twenty-five years, and we plan to be in business for at least twenty-five more. Through relationships, strong leadership, proper planning, and hard work, Ecotech has positioned itself to be a leader in the market and has the capability of future expansion. Ecotech has a reputation of a strong, hardworking, caring local company that many are attracted to. We plan on continuing this reputation.”