Deffenbaugh addresses poor trash service in Mission, but says better results could be weeks away

Paul Howe of Deffenbaugh Industries listened to a resident’s complaint Wednesday at the Mission City Council meeting.
Paul Howe (R) of Deffenbaugh Industries listened to a resident’s complaint Wednesday at the Mission City Council meeting.

“There is no excuse,” for the poor service his company has provided, a Deffenbaugh Industries manager said Wednesday.

Trash collection has been an issue for months across northeast Johnson County with residents complaining about missed pickups in both the Deffenbaugh and Town & Country collection areas.

Mission residents had a chance Wednesday to directly ask questions and make their complaints to Paul Howe, a senior district manager for Deffenbaugh, who appeared at the Mission City Council meeting. “I am here to talk about some rough times,” Howe said, attributing the pickup failures to a shortage of available drivers. “If you are going to drive a truck, probably a trash truck is not your first choice,” he said, citing a deficit of qualified drivers both nationally and in Kansas City.

“While our current behavior hasn’t demonstrated it, we value that relationship (the contract with Mission),” Howe said. The sale of Deffenbaugh to Waste Management in 2015 did not cause the service problems, Howe contended. He said Waste Management has added staff in operations.

Several residents recounted problems with Deffenbaugh service, including missed trash left out over the weekend. For some Mission residents pickup day is Friday. If the pickup is missed, the recovery day is Monday, Howe said, which means that trash stays out all weekend.

Sandi Russell said when she called about a missed pickup on a bulky item day, she was told that for $100 (a service supposed to be free) she could get it picked up in a timely manner. “That was the wrong answer,” Howe said.

Other residents complained about the poor communication and driving habits.

Councilor Suzie Gibbs said the city should get some compensation. Ron Appletoft asked Howe when the city could expect to see better service. Howe said it could be eight to nine weeks before the company’s new training and hiring show results.

The problems with Deffenbaugh are not unique to Mission and did not start recently. Howe appeared before the Prairie Village City Council in February to address some of the same complaints. Town & Country, which also went through a sale, has received similar complaints in the cities it serves.

Deffenbaugh has city-wide contracts with Mission and Prairie Village. Town & Country has contracts with Roeland Park, Fairway and Westwood.