Waste Pro, the garbage hauler on contract to provide garbage and recycling service for residents in Palm Coast and unincorporated Flagler, appointed Heather Badger-Felmet as division manager in Palm Coast.
Badger-Felmet is a long-time Waste Pro employee and local resident. She’d been making her way up the ranks at the company.
“Heather had taken over the role internally kind of as an interim as they did the search to find a replacement,” said Heidi Petito, Flagler County’s facilities director who oversees the county’s contract with Waste Pro. “They ended up appointing her.”
The appointment occurs just 14 months after the company had promoted Shea Drury to lead the Palm Coast division. Drury left last spring, at a time that coincided with another spike in complaints about service from Palm Coast residents. The spike hasn’t been repeated since.
A year ago the company had 56 employees providing service to more than 40,000 residential customers and more than 1,500 commercial customers in Palm Coast and Flagler County. The number of households has been growing in the city and the county. In the county alone, since 2017, when the contract was last renewed, the county has added some 1,000 households, Petito said, for a total of 6,887 houses at the end of October. The number of added households in Palm Coast is significantly higher.
Waste Pro has had its challenges with both Palm Coast and the county over the last few years, but has been working through them.
“Our relationship has been improving considerably with Waste Pro over the last few months,” Michael Schottey, Palm Coast government’s chief spokesperson, said in an email. “They have a big job to do, but they have been doing much better and working closely with City staff to iron out issues as quickly as they can. During Hurricane Dorian, especially, they were an invaluable partner.”
Service satisfaction is reflected in the amounts of fines the city levies on Waste Pro each month–for missed pick-ups, incomplete routes and other such issues. The company had a very rough patch in late 2017 and early 2018, racking up $40,000 in fines from Palm Coast in March and April 2018 alone. (The county does not levy fines for poor service.) Palm Coast government officials grumbled. The company pledged to revamp routes and add personnel. The remainder of 2018 went well, but problems grew again in early 2019, with $14,500 in fines in January and $10,000 in April, leading some elected officials to wonder whether the company was still up to the job. In summer, Beverly Beach opted to end its relationship with Waste Pro at the end of the contract year and resume its relationship with Flagler Beach, which had provided garbage service previously. Flagler Beach, like Bunnell, has its own municipal hauling service.
For Palm Coast and Flagler County, the Waste Pro five-year contract expires in June 2022. The county piggy-backs on the city’s contract. Waste Pro has been providing garbage service to the two jurisdictions since 2007. The current charge is $20.36 a month per household.
After the latest spat of issues, company officials met with the Palm Coast city manager and with county officials and again worked things out. Fines dropped to $3,200 in May, and to zero in June. The amounts of fines have been relatively low since, averaging around $1,000 each month.
Petito credits the improvement to Badger-Felmet.
Service, Petito said, has been “excellent, we haven’t had any issues. I attribute that to Heather because she’s always been the one–even before she had the position–she’s always been very receptive and responsive to any customer complaint, she’s always very helpful and professional.”
A Waste Pro release notes that Badger-Felmet is a graduate of Daytona State College who gained management experience working for home-building company Forister Builders, where she worked for eight years as Operations Manager. Prior to this role, she sold new home construction. She’s been in the waste industry for a decade, joining Waste Pro in 2009 in the accounts receivable department. From there, she worked her way up to her most recent position as Office Administrator in Palm Coast.
“Heather has been quietly developing her leadership skills over the years with her willingness to learn and her ambition to provide excellent customer service,” said Northeast Florida Regional Vice President Brian Wintjen. “With that, she has gained competence and confidence and is ready for her next role with Waste Pro.”
Badger-Felmet has been a long-time volunteer for the city of Palm Coast, serving as a youth soccer coach for the past 13 years.