Fined $500K and filing bankruptcy, Red River stands by ‘top-notch’ service

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Almost a week after filing for bankruptcy, Red River Waste Solutions said the company remains committed to providing its “usual top-notch service.”

The Texas-based waste company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday. In the filing, the family-owned business, which services 310,000 households across 5 states including Fort Wayne, blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, a credit agreement and “operational challenges” for its financial struggles.

This Wednesday, Red River sent WANE 15 the following statement:

“Red River Waste Solutions is an integral part of the communities it serves and is continuing (and committed) to provide waste-removal services in all such communities while under bankruptcy protection. Like many other businesses, Red River Waste Solutions was adversely affected by COVID-19 challenges, and it has struggled to overcome the challenges caused by that pandemic. These challenges include a historic labor shortage and a pandemic-driven increase in waste volumes. These factors have significantly increased our labor costs, the stress on our great employees, and our rolling stock, all resulting in challenges with our current lender, even though we have maintained our excellent customer-service levels required by our customers.”

Jim Calandra, Chief Restructuring Officer of Red River Waste Solutions

According to the city, Red River averaged 262 misses per week for garbage collections in 2021 through August. That number is a significant increase from the 101 garbage misses per week since 2020. However, in 2019, the average number of misses per week was 299 and 706 in 2018.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 31 Solid Waste service requests about garbage pick ups were filed in the last 24 hours. Of those 31 requests, three have been resolved so far.

City spokesperson, John Perlich, said Fort Wayne has collected more than $500,000 in fines from Red River over the last four years. He said that money goes back into the Solid Waste Fund that operates the Solid Waste Department.

Red River’s statement went on to say:

“Late last week, we reached an impasse with our lender, forcing us to seek chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Red River Waste Solutions expects to use this chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize its debts, eliminating legacy debt, providing the company with necessary liquidity and a strengthened balance sheet, and preserving/improving its ability to serve its customers. While Red River moves through the restructuring process as quickly as possible, it intends for its day-to-day operations, engagement with customers, and top-notch service to continue as usual.”

Jim Calandra, Chief Restructuring Officer of Red River Waste Solutions
A trash bin waits to be collected along Copper Hill Run on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021.

Several Fort Wayne residents who live on Copper Hill Run told WANE 15 on Wednesday that “top-notch” wasn’t the first phrase that came to mind when they thought of Red River’s service.

“It’s just kind of hit and miss,” said Sharon Peckham. “You never know if it’s going to come on Friday, which is our day, or a week from Friday, or Sunday, or Saturday.”

Copper Hill Run residents said a frequent issue on the road is that some houses will have their trash collected, while others won’t. Peckham’s trash was picked up on Friday. However, Nicholas Sutherland, who lives across the street from her, said he’s had his cans sitting out for almost a week.

“It’s frustrating, seeing everybody else’s trash get picked up,” said Sutherland. “We tried to call, we tried to email somebody. They just said it should be picked up any day now but I just don’t understand.”

Sutherland added that this issue reoccurs nearly every week.

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, members were advised that trash collection would continue, and to start looking for other companies to take over the city’s contract in the event Red River shuts down.

Red River did not attend the meeting because of a “scheduling conflict.”

Missed trash collections can be reported here or by calling 311.

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