Passion and Purpose: What Drives GFL Environmental CEO Patrick Dovigi

As with any true entrepreneur, they tend to go through a series of highs and lows before finding breakthrough success. For some, finding what works takes longer than it does for others. But for Toronto CEO and entrepreneur Patrick Dovigi, his desire to create a successful provider of diversified environmental solutions is what stuck and has also been an avenue for a tremendous amount of professional success.

Patrick Dovigi is the founder of environmental services company, GFL Environmental Inc. (GFL), a company which under his leadership has grown to have a total enterprise value of roughly $5.13 billion as of April 2018, a significant number considering that the company is only twelve years old.

GFL — and Dovigi’s story — does not end there.

Late last year, GFL announced the completion of one of its most significant mergers to-date, a merger with Waste Industries, one that valued Waste Industries at roughly US$2.825 billion. Notably, the merger doubles GFL’s presence in the United States, expanding the company’s geographical reach to 10 U.S. states and every Canadian province except Prince Edward Island.

The merged company will include 98 collection operations, 59 transfer stations, 29 MRFs, 10 organics facilities, 47 landfills and more than 8,850 employees. Significantly, it will also add collection, transfer station, materials recovery and landfill operations in fast-growing United States markets, growing GFL’s customer base and forming an extended platform from which the company can continue its growth strategy.

With talk of all this growth, the question remains: what has allowed Patrick Dovigi, a relatively young entrepreneur, to turn a one-site operation into one of the leading providers of diversified environmental solutions in North America.

Perseverance and ambition, for sure. But more so, it is executing on an idea that demonstrates the unique ability to pinpoint what was needed in the environmental services industry.

Patrick Dovigi began GFL from the bottom-up when he established the company in 2007 under the single premise that mom-and-pop waste management companies could be brought in and combined. Through this strategy, a company could provide a comprehensive list of environmental solutions under one brand, ensuring that quality and level of service is maintained across the board.

Patrick Dovigi chose GFL for the company’s name because it’s the acronym for “Green For Life,” one that represents his desire to have the company lead the industry in providing comprehensive, forward-thinking environmental solutions.

Dovigi adds, “I started [GFL] because I wanted to provide our customers and the communities we serve with the resources they need to support their efforts to be “green for life”.

GFL is now the only major diversified environmental services company in North America offering services in solid waste management, liquid waste management and infrastructure implementation. The company also provides soil remediation services, as well as site excavation, demolition, soil retention, foundations installation and specialty infrastructure project services.

GFL’s success and its quick growth can also be attributed to Dovigi’s awareness of current environmental issues and a focus on creating sustainable solutions. He is firm in his belief that comprehensive environmental solutions must become a priority and are a required investment.

Dovigi wants to be certain GFL is leading the industry in understanding the broad range of environmental solutions that both customers and communities are looking for from a waste management provider.

Reiterating this idea, Dovigi adds, “Our goal at GFL is to continue to provide effective, streamlined solutions to make it as easy as possible for our customers to live and work in an environmentally friendly way.”