Thirty-eight years ago, Albert (Butch) Guevremont and his brother Ben began Roll-A-Way Disposal.
“We started with $10,000 and an old truck that probably shouldn’t have even been on the road,” said Butch chuckling as he sat at a table between one of his trucks and an assortment of tools and parts on the other half of the garage. His partners and friends Ed Prosser, Larry Defreitas and Jim Walsh were by his side and laughed along with him.
Roll-A-Way Disposal has been a long-time community staple that has served businesses and residents since the first day the company’s one truck started running in 1984. After all this time, the company will close its doors through an auction on Jan. 22.
Growing up on Strawberry Field Road in Warwick, Butch initially got involved in the disposal business at age 12 when he started working locally for George Bates’ company by picking up trash for an open body truck. Attending Lippitt Elementary School, Gorton Junior High School and Veterans Memorial High School, Butch quit high school and enlisted in the Navy at age 17. He served four years in the Navy, working as an engineman. When he had free time, he would leave his station at Newport and work part time for Bates. Butch went on to purchase a small company, Page Hauling, which he ran for many years with his ex-in laws. While working at Page Hauling, Butch realized there was a lot of construction going on at the time and thought there was a need for bigger dumpsters - this is when the idea for Roll-A-Way Disposal started.
Shifting his focus to the new company, Butch reminisced on the days of picking a name for the business and deciding whether to include hyphens in the name or leave them out; it was the beginning stages of a small empire.
Since then, Roll-A-Way has accumulated seven trucks and over 300 dumpsters. Eight family members have worked at the company - many of them putting in close to two decades of work. Butch’s wife, Diana, worked in the company’s office for 19 years and Ed Prosser - who joined the team in 1985 and grew up in the disposal business - had his son working at Roll-A-Way Disposal for some time.
Now, the disposal company’s location is truly ideal. Located on 86 Knight Street in Warwick, the company’s two land parcels are a couple miles from Route 37 and Route 295; the trucks only spend about two minutes on the main road before hitting the highway.
This business is not for those who like to sleep in.
Butch, Ed and Larry arrive at work between 4 and 4:30 a.m., usually working until 4 in the afternoon. While the days are always different, the company’s consistent parts are delivering and picking up dumpsters - a process that goes on and on.
“Sometimes you leave in the morning and you’re gone all day,” said Larry, who used to work as a master technician for automobiles. Larry entered the company in 2003 and is Diana’s cousin.
Diana has watched her husband and his partners work hard every day, recognizing the physical energy it takes to do this job day after day. As Butch and his partners sat around the table in the business’s garage Thursday, they laughed and noted that they would cross their fingers and hope there weren’t any breakdowns and flat tires when they were on the road. Larry pointed out that with seven trucks rolling all the time, there’s always something to fix and they wanted to make it home in one piece.
Hard work and a lot of man-hours is key to the company’s customer satisfaction. Roll-A-Way Disposal has always been prompt with delivering and picking up dumpsters; if someone called and needed a dumpster that day, Butch, Ed or Larry could send someone out to immediately respond to the customer’s needs.
Diana also noted the partners treat their workers extremely well, providing gifts for Thanksgiving, a Christmas bonus, vacation time and extra compensation for working during the pandemic.
“It’s a good company to work for,” she said.
The company has grown each year since its inception and usually completes 40 jobs a day. Their busy season is from April to Halloween - in other words when there is no snow.
“We always used to say that after Easter we’re going to go crazy,” Larry said.
During the pandemic, the company saw a spike in business. Between people cleaning out their attics, basements and remodeling rooms or redoing roofs, Roll-A-Way Disposal trucks were constantly on the road. And while supply and demand shortages for parts stopped many individuals in this industry, the company had extra parts that allowed them to be ahead of the game.
Roll-A-Way Disposal has had an excellent run for 38 years. Now, it is only a matter of days before the auction. North Country Auction will lead an auction where items go to the highest bidder. Seven trucks, a couple acres of property, the company name and phone numbers are among those items that will be auctioned. The company tried for five years to sell the business and while there were several people interested in purchasing the company, the pandemic hit and changed things.
“We’ve got mixed emotions about going but I think the time has come,” Butch said.
The company has tried for several years to recruit people to be drivers but no one inquired about the position. In the early years they could always find help, but now not so much. With Butch, Ed and Larry all above 60, age and health also play into their decision to sell.
But the partners are grateful for this chapter in their lives. They noted their unique partnership and how the three just click together, enabling them to have lasted for so long. If there is something that one person doesn’t know, another has the knowledge - especially when it comes to fixing things. Between consulting each other on how to fix a truck and using each other’s knowledge, the group has spent many hours being resourceful and working hard.
As for what’s next, that is to be figured out.
“A little bit of rest and relaxation before the next adventure,” Larry said.
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