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The Anatomy of a Private Equity Investment: from M&A roll-up, to IPO, and beyond with Advanced Disposal Services’ Chairman and CEO
Richard Burke


Welcome to Episode 23 and the beginning of Season 4 of A CEO's Virtual Mentor.


I'd like to express our special thanks to the clients of Lyceum Leadership Consulting that have enabled us to bring you this podcast and to our devoted listenership, for your continued encouragement and programming suggestions.


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There are two main features on our program today.


I. For our main event in the program, I'm joined by Richard Burke, Chairman and CEO of publicly-traded solid waste services company, Advanced Disposal Services. 


We'll be discussing Richard's leadership in a company that delivers a service punch well above its $1.6 billion weight class. We'll cover its evolution from private equity backed roll-up of solid waste businesses through its IPO in October of 2016 and right up to just prior to the announcement on April 15, 2019, that Waste Management would purchase Advanced Disposal.


Our interview covers a lot of ground and addresses an array of situation specific business leadership areas, including:

  • The economics of the solid waste business.

  • A company’s evolution from private equity ownership to IPO

  • M&A and the Four D’s behind a seller’s motivation

  • Corporate Reputation and Integrity

  • Reputation Derived from Investors on the Path to an IPO

  • Safety and Corporate Culture

  • Post-IPO Board Composition Considerations

Richard Around Truck 2.jpg
Richard Burke Truck.jpg

II. We occasionally feature a spot on the program called Famous Last Words. We'll intersperse excerpts of a dramatic scene from the 1956 movie, “Patterns…of Power!”, through the breaks in our program. Patterns’ brilliant screenplay was written by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame. The Patterns script predated Twilight Zone and is considered by many as the finest piece of writing Rod Serling has ever done and brought him instant acclaim. We'll feature the dramatic scene between ruthless, cold, and calculating owner of the corporation Walter Ramsey, played by Everett Sloane, and youthful, charismatic and considerate industrial engineer, Fred Staples, played by Van Heflin. Ramsey is impressed with the performance of Fred Staples at a company Ramsey has recently acquired. Ramsey's grooming Staples to replace the struggling, but highly principled Bill Briggs, played by Ed Begley, as the second in command at the company.

Program Guide Episode 23

You can listen to this episode via the link below and follow along with the program guide or subscribe to our podcast where ever you listen to your podcasts.

0:06     Introduction to Program

1:05     Introduction to Famous Last Words feature “Patterns…of Power!”

2:51     Interview with Richard Burke

11:02   Music Break 1

11:19   Patterns Scene 1 of 4   

15:24   Music Break 2

15:43   Richard Burke on Landfill Economics

16:48   The Secondary Vertically Integrated Market

19:09   Geographic Adjacencies

21:28   The Seller’s Consideration and “the Four D’s”

23:03   Reputation Requirements for M&A

23:20   Music Break 3

23:26   Private Equity Interest and Approach in the Solid Waste Sector

27:13   Advantages of Funding/Partnering with Private Equity

28:48   Music Break 4

29:07   Patterns Scene 2 of 4   

30:22   Music Break 5

30:40   Transactions that Formed ADS Today

32:47   Reputation Derived from Investors on the Path to an IPO

33:49   Assembling the Management Team During the Formative Transactions

35:12   Culture and “Service First, Safety Always”

38:49   Music Break 6

38:55   Patterns Scene 3 of 4   

39:23   Music Break 7

39:36   Post-IPO Board Composition Considerations

44:56   Post-IPO Management Team Skills/Experience Considerations

46:43   Music Break 8

47:10   Richard Burke’s Individual Leadership and Foundational Experiences.

52:22   Concluding Comments

52:59   Patterns Scene 4 of 4  

Biographies of Guests


Mr. Richard Burke


Mr. Burke serves as Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Disposal. Prior to serving as CEO, he served as President of the company and was responsible for mergers and acquisitions, purchasing, risk management, human resources and strategic planning. He joined Advanced Disposal following the acquisition of Veolia Environmental Services Solid Waste in November 2012, where he was President and CEO of Veolia Environmental Services North America since 2007.

Mr. Burke began his employment with Veolia in 1999 as Area Manager for the Southeast Wisconsin area and served as Regional Vice President for the Eastern and Southern markets until he was appointed Chief Executive Officer.  As CEO, Mr. Burke was responsible for leading Veolia Environmental Services in the U.S. and Canada, which included annual revenue of $2 billion, more than 200 locations and a team of 10,000 employees.  Prior to joining Veolia, he spent 12 years with Waste Management in a variety of leadership positions.  He currently serves on the Board of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation and in September 2017 was named to the Board of Estre Ambiental S.A., which is the largest waste management company in Brazil and Latin America by disposal capacity. Mr. Burke holds a bachelor’s degree from Randolph Macon College.



Your host Thomas B. Linquist is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lyceum Leadership Consulting and Lyceum Leadership Productions. Over his 14 years in management and leadership consulting he has served a wide array of industrial clients.  This includes leadership assessment and search for chief executive officers, chief financial officers, chief operating officers and boards of directors.  He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and over his 28-year career has served in a variety of roles: as an engineer with Shell Oil Company, a banker with ABN AMRO Bank, and as treasurer was the youngest corporate officer in the 150+ year history at Peoples Energy Company in Chicago.  He is an expert on hiring and promotion decisions and leadership development.  Over the course of his search career, he has interviewed thousands of leaders. 

Program Disclaimer

The only purpose of the podcasts is to educate, inform and entertain. The information shared is based on the collection of experiences of each of the guests interviewed and should not be considered or substituted for professional advice. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experience and conclusions, and neither The Leadership Lyceum LLC nor any company providing financial support endorses or opposes any particular content, recommendation or methodology discussed in this podcast.


This podcast Leadership Lyceum: A CEO’s Virtual Mentor has been a production of The Leadership Lyceum LLC. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

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