Deffenbaugh blames trash delays on garbageman shortage

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Deffenbaugh Industries picked up trash in an Overland Park neighborhood five days late Monday.

Deffenbaugh says customers have been experiencing delays since a call-out sick by its overworked drivers dealing with the heat on July 8th.

“Unfortunately when we started that recovery that immediately starts to put you behind for the next week and we’ve still dealt with the impacts of that,” Paul Howe, Deffenbaugh district supervisor said.

Customers would call for help, but with so many people complaining, many of those calls were transferred to Deffenbaugh’s new owner, Waste Management.

“You don’t get a guy down the street or in KCK to talk to he doesn’t know where Overland Park is,” Overland Park customer Bill Berg said.

Paul Howe says the pickup delays have nothing to do with Waste Management’s take over, but a larger issue facing the trucking industry as a whole.

“If the transportation industry has a shortage of 30,000 people, most people aren’t going to look to the trash company as a place to go drive a truck,” Howe said.

So Deffenbaugh has been scrambling to find commercially licensed drivers to operate its trucks. Howe says they’ve upped starting pay for drivers three times already this year, and are finally seeing results. Twenty-five new drivers had their first day of orientation Monday, another 13 were hired in June and are in training.

Once they are all ready to work, the company shouldn’t have any of its 220 routes unmanned; welcome news to people tired of wondering and waiting.

“This is a decent neighborhood you don’t expect that here, if you pay your bills you should get something for the service you pay for,” Berg said.

Until then Deffenbaugh pledges to improve its customer service.

“It’s our job to do a better job of being proactive and reaching out to the individual customer or the municipality and say hey we’re behind and here’s our recovery plan of action,” Howe said.

And that recovery goal is to have all trash picked up within 48 hours of scheduled pickup. Fridays can get a little tricky, but Deffenbaugh said it had 35 drivers out over the weekend trying to get caught up.

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