Nearly three decades ago, two young men posed for a picture together, both beaming as they stood in front of a gleaming 1987 Mack® RD model. Sean Winters, 21, had just bought his first garbage truck, continuing the family legacy that began in the 1950s and continues today. Jimmy Brown, 25, was a salesman at Gabrielli Truck Sales in Hartford, Conn., and that first truck was just one of many Mack models he has since sold to Winters.
Partnerships like those with Gabrielli and Mack Trucks are the foundation of Winters Bros. Waste and Recycling, Winters says. And their bond continues today.
Winters Bros. grows through acquisitions
Sean and his four brothers grew up in the waste removal industry, accompanying their father on his four Long Island, N.Y., routes while their mother managed the books. Acquisitions led to growth until finally, in 1998, Sean Winters and his brothers — Joe, Jimmy, Michael and Andrew — founded Winters Bros., a full-service waste and recycling company that now serves approximately 200,000 customers in New York and Connecticut. They maintain a fleet of more than 200 trucks, three-quarters of which are Mack. The average age of the equipment is six years. Last year, Winters purchased 17 new Mack TerraPro® and Granite® models, and will repeat the order in 2017.
“My father used many trucks over the years, but he always had Macks,” Winters says. “We like the Mack Trucks product because of their dependability and the availability of parts. They’re heavy-duty trucks.”
That durability is important in the waste industry, where roll-off containers sometimes require off-road driving at construction sites and new housing developments.
“Our Macks are spec’d for heavy hauling,” Winters says. “Mack trucks hold up best for us.”
Winters operates Mack TerraPro front-end loaders with MP®7 engines, spec’d with 345 hp and 1,250 lb.-ft of torque. Their Granites are spec’d with MP8 engines at 425 hp and 1,540 lb.-ft., which works especially well in their Connecticut operations with hillier terrain than Long Island. They transfer garbage and recycling waste to landfills with Mack Pinnacle™ models spec’d with MP8 engines with 505 hp and 1,760 lb.-ft. The fleet has a couple of spec differences for their different locations, such as a heavier rear end for their Long Island TerraPro front end loaders and Granite rolloffs – 58,000 pounds instead of the 46,000 pound-capacity rears they use for their equipment in Connecticut.
“They like the ruggedness and toughness, because they last longer and they take the pounding on the tough city streets,” Brown says.
Safety and maneuverability are also important, especially for the front-end loaders.
“The big windshield in the front is great, the back window is clear and the visibility is exceptional for the surroundings,” Winters says. “Mack is right up there in maneuverability. They are in tight spots all day long, and the 210-inch wheelbase allows them to get into those tight places.”
Winters Bros. expands into recycling
The industry has changed through the years, and the trucks have evolved as well. Today, more customers desire environmentally friendly lifestyles, and more municipalities seek waste solutions that embrace clean air initiatives.
Winters Bros. currently offers single-stream recycling, which handles the sorting for customers, and they are exploring the possibility of converting their trucks to CNG (compressed natural gas). Mack’s commitment to near-zero emissions helps Winters Bros. maintain a sustainable company while reducing their carbon emissions footprint.
“One of the things we enjoy is that the business is not static,” Winters says. “We’ve really embraced the technology that allows trucks to be cleaner and more efficient. Successful companies like ours are the companies that embrace the changes and use the technology to make advancements for the customers. We like to figure out new and better ways to do things.”
Winters Bros: A passion for Macks
Winters loved the industry as a child, and that passion for people and service continues today. But on the weekends, he can often be found at truck shows with his newest acquisition — a 2017 Titan by Mack model with a 525 hp MP10 engine and 1,860 lb.-ft., plus Mack’s premium Rawhide interior.
“We put a lot of time into our trucks to make sure they are the best-looking trucks around, because our name is on them, and we want to make sure we do everything right for the community,” he says.
Brown agrees. “The Titan is a pretty special Mack,” he says. “Image is a big part of their business, and they keep them looking nice.”
Recently, their Titan took home first-place trophies for Best Rolloff and People’s Choice at a truck show in Englishtown, N.J.
“When you mention Winters Bros., on Long Island, everybody knows who we are and what we do,” Winters says. “The first comment out of their mouths is, ‘I love your trucks.’ We’re walking away with trophies from these shows, and people say, ‘Those can’t be front-line trucks.’ But the reality is that the Friday before, they were picking up trash, and Monday, they’re going to be picking up trash. But on the weekends, the trucks win awards.”
Many of the trucks are green and feature gold lettering and a shamrock design with an American flag and a cross. Every truck has the words “Mom” and “Dad” emblazoned on the front fenders and “In memory of ‘Big Jim and Brigid,” on the back to pay homage to the brothers’ parents and their humble beginnings.
Winters says his parents were always supportive of their five sons and believes they would be surprised to see how much the company has grown.
“We’re all very proud of the work we do here,” he says. “This isn’t the most glamorous business, but it’s a business that we’re proud of. Everybody here has a great attitude that’s focused on serving the customer, and we couldn’t do that without really good partners. Our partnership with Mack Trucks serves us well and serves our customers well. We’re honored to be part of an American institution.”