Published Sep 23, 2019 by Lou Ann Duvall
It’s been nearly a year since Waste Management signed a deal to relocate its corporate headquarters to Capitol Tower in downtown Houston. But at one time, the company was considering relocating its HQ somewhere else. Nashville, Denver and Chicago were among the possibilities.
Waste Management President and CEO Jim Fish said the decision to relocate was prompted by the expiration of the company’s leases at its two downtown Houston buildings.
“We thought that it made sense to do a full evaluation of downtown Houston, Houston suburbs, other Texas cities and other non-Texas US cities,” said Fish.
Waste Management ultimately decided to stay in Houston. They're expected to move into their new headquarters next year, occupying nine floors of Capitol Tower. Fish said Houston’s diversity and affordability factored into their decision to stay.
“With so many burgeoning neighborhoods like the Heights, the Museum District, Washington [Avenue], Montrose, and all of the restaurants, cultural activities, and cosmopolitism, Houston has become very popular with young professionals between the ages of 22-35. That is important to WM. Other important criteria for us were cost of living, tax structure, higher education, transportation [and] business friendliness of the city/state, to name a few,” said Fish.
As the company prepares to move to its new headquarters in downtown Houston, it's making other changes to its operations, including the addition of a corporate innovation and digital technology platform.
“As our business changes, we felt that it was very important to do our own innovation,” said Fish. “Hence the decision to move forward with our own maker space/innovation lab. At this point, the number of jobs added in that facility is to be determined, but we are excited about the potential for the space.”
The company’s also focusing its efforts on sustainability.
“We continue to invest in sustainable technologies such as one that can create sustainable products from single use plastics. We are transitioning our diesel fleet to CNG (compressed natural gas) in short order. We expect to be over 70% CNG by the end of 2020,” said Fish.
As a board member of the Greater Houston Partnership, Fish has been instrumental in the organization’s efforts to recruit and retain headquarters in Houston. Over the summer, Fish joined the Partnership for a business recruitment mission to New York City.
“My main takeaway was that Houston has a lot more to sell as a great city than we give ourselves credit for,” said Fish. “I’ve said it before, Houston has a great story to tell, we just aren’t great story tellers. But we are getting much better at it.”
Waste Management is one of 22 Houston area-based companies on the 2019 Fortune 500 list, ranking Houston fourth in the country behind New York (70), Chicago (34) and Dallas-Ft. Worth (24). Waste Management ranks 213 on this year's list.