From the Horse-Drawn Cart to the Computer Age
Much has transpired since 1937! The company’s business footprint has changed dramatically over these 8 decades.
From the 1930’s through the 1950’s, many Plainville residents burned trash in their own backyards in homemade incinerators. Mr. Thaddeus Zommer, an enterprising immigrant from Poland, was a pig farmer who owned land off North Washington Street. In 1937, he negotiated with the town to take his horse-drawn cart around town to pick up food scraps from households once a week, which he would feed to his pigs. Then just once per month, Tad would collect ashes along with tin cans and bottles and bring them to the town dump, which was located right in the center of town, behind where today’s modern Municipal Center stands. During the war years, as a precursor to modern recycling, Tad salvaged the cans to support the war effort.
1950’s - 1970’s
Tad’s son, Michael T. Zommer, operated Waste Material along with his wife, Helen, during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Michael was instrumental in helping the town to negotiate the purchase of a parcel of land on Grainger Lane, land that became the town’s new waste disposal site and still serves today as a landfill for yard debris. During this era, Plainville resident Fred Bradley came to work on the trucks and he continued as a company employee for 48 years up until the time of his death in 2009 at the age of 78.
In the spring of 1956, Waste Material entered a new era when Mike and Helen’s only son, Michael Anthony Zommer, took a chance on expanding the small company into new territory. As a young married man of 25, with three young children and a wife to support, Mike decided to grow the family business. Mike began knocking on doors in brand-new subdivisions springing up across Southington, Connecticut, a 36.8-square-mile town just south of Plainville.
He successfully signed a number of new customers in the first year based on his persuasive offer, “Let me do you a favor and haul your garbage to the dump,” Mike offered, all for the remarkable rate of $1.50 a month! Mike came like clockwork every week and hauled away his customers’ household trash from curbs and backyards. Waste Material still serves some of these same families who answered Mike’s knock on their door in 1956!
Michael A. had a vision to expand into Farmington, then Newington. Municipal and elected officials could always rely on Mike to help the towns deal honestly and fairly with expensive and sometimes difficult transitions as the municipal solid waste industry evolved, such as landfill closures, waste processing plant openings, and state and federal mandates. During the 1970’s, the company grew, and the fleet of trucks expanded from two trucks to six trucks.
1980’s to Today
Mr. Zommer tutored his family in the ethics of customer service and honest, hard work. Today his son Mark, with a college education in tow, leads the company as its president. He is raising his family with three small children in Farmington. He has guided the adoption of several new generations of waste trucks and equipment, and launched one of the first town-wide recycling collection programs in 1990 in Farmington. He also launched fully automated trash collection in 1995.
The company grew a great deal during these two decades with the addition of commercial dumpster services, an increase in sophisticated recycling services, and the sheer number of households served. The fleet of trucks also expanded during this period, up to 12, then 15, then 30 trucks in 2000 and a total of 50 employees. As the technology for automated trucks improved, WMTC grew increasingly more efficient and required less trucks and labor.