CleanScapes: A Mission-Driven Company with a Mission-Aligned Exit

Case Study

Seattle-based CleanScapes provides sustainable solid waste and recycling collection in Seattle and comprehensive StreetScape management services to municipalities, commercial properties, business improvement districts, and stadiums in Washington, Oregon, and California. The company has pioneered environmental and civic strategies to clean up and strengthen urban neighborhoods, provide excellent employment opportunities, and reduce the environmental footprint of their clients. During SJF’s investment period from October 2008 to November 2011, the firm grew from 80 to 280 employees and was steadily profitable.

CleanScapes offers entry level employees the chance to grow and follow a successful career path. “We have one manager that started with us as an $8.00 per hour cleaning staff member 5 years ago,” explains CEO Chris Martin. “He now runs operations for our San Francisco office and is a tremendous asset to the company.”

The company is very intentional about creating a great employee culture. Strategies include morning team rallies, safety and inspirational message displays, everyone being on a first-name basis, cultivating pride in personal and equipment appearance, promoting from within, an employee assistance program (EAP), open door policies, CleanStats (discussing weekly metrics openly with all key employees), and personally passing out paychecks as an opportunity to thank employees for their hard work.

In November 2011, CleanScapes closed a merger transaction with another leading West Coast waste management firm, Recology – the largest U.S. employee-owned company in the industry. The two companies share a similar employee engagement culture and a commitment to helping communities reach zero waste.

“The deal was a strong win-win-win for customers, employees, shareholders and the environment,” said SJF Managing Director Cody Nystrom. “And it further proves that strong performing companies that do well by doing good, as CleanScapes demonstrated, can attract aligned acquirers that share a vision of building companies that create impacts beyond the bottom line.”

Learn more about CleanScapes