Keith Granger: Creating Sustainable Energy Solutions

KeithG2016aprAs Granger celebrates its 50th anniversary, no one at the waste management company was more pleased to win the Socially Responsible Entrepreneur Award than CEO Keith Granger.

“From an outsider’s perspective, I think people would say, ‘Granger, of course; they provide recycling and waste management services,’” said Keith. “I look at socially responsible as including those things, but going beyond that – how do we conduct business? How do we treat our associates and our customers? Do we give back to the community in any way? When I package all of that under the umbrella of being socially responsible, its pretty cool.”

Granger began as a construction company in 1966, and moved into waste management as a means to solve their construction debris problem. The Granger brothers bought a truck and began hauling away their own debris from construction sites when they couldn’t find a waste management company to do it for them. Not long after, other contractors began to request this service from the Granger brothers, and the company grew from there.

Today, Granger associates operate more than 100 waste management trucks every day and services areas throughout mid-Michigan from Jackson County to as far north as Isabella County.

Over the years, Granger has also grown to incorporate recycling services. And in 1985, they began a renewable energy business as a way to better use the resources that were available to them through waste management.

“What we like to say is that Granger collects tomorrow’s energy,” said Keith. “The trash we pick up from all of the communities we’re in and the businesses we work with, we bring back to our landfills. The trash naturally decomposes and creates methane; we capture the methane and pipe it to a facility to fuel large engines that turn generators and create energy that we put on the grid.”

The company currently operates 17 plants in six states and produces enough energy to power 38,000 average sized homes everyday.

“It’s really great, because what would otherwise be a wasted resource is now being used to power homes,” said Keith.

Since Keith took over as CEO 13 years ago, he has put a greater emphasis on growth and improvement within the company and strives to make Granger bigger, better and stronger every day. For Keith, that means continuing to expand the company and creating an environment where those who work for Granger like to come to work. He believes that happy employees make the whole company stronger.

However, leading a family business as large as Granger doesn’t come without its challenges, and Keith noted that managing the expectations of his family members can often be the most challenging part of running the business.

“I’m the third generation to run this business and the transition from one generation to the next can be pretty tricky. The big challenge is meeting family expectations while still running a sustainable, viable business,” he said. “But when you have harmony in a family unit and the business owners agree on a direction and the vision that we have, it produces a very strong enterprise.”

As a family company, Granger has always put an emphasis on family values. Keith cited Christian values – the Golden Rule – as one of the most important values that each generation has handed down to the next.

“I think what it’s done for Granger as a company is created a culture of associates who really care for people,” Keith said. “It’s demonstrated in the way we treat one another. For example, when we got all that snow [at the beginning of March] we literally had drivers stop what they were doing, get out of their trucks and help people who were stuck. They weren’t asked to do that, but they know that if they were in that situation or a family member was stuck, they would want someone to help them out. That kind of differentiates us: We’re not just saying it, we’re acting it out.”

In the future, Keith hopes that Granger will continue to grow and serve the community for many years to come.

“We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, and we’re trying to be here for another 50 years,” he said. “Our roots are in Lansing, and the community has been very good to us. We hope that we have been an asset to the community, and we see that hopefully continuing for many years to come.”

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