The ABC’s of ABC Waste
ABC Waste was originally founded by James Hodges and Ellen Flinchum-Hodges in 1956, the same year Elvis Presley came to Savannah. In the years leading up, they were running their business just outside of Savannah in a town called Claxton. It wasn’t until 1952 that Ellen took the money she had earned during her time with the FBI and purchased the first garbage truck of their fleet. They had high hopes to run their business out of Virginia, and so they packed up their stuff to start a new life in the “birthplace of a nation”. Business was booming, however, after four years of frigid temperatures they had enough of the cold and made their way back home to The Coastal Empire.
The year was 1956 when they made the decision to relocate back to Savannah, Georgia and ABC Waste of Savannah was born. Staying true to their values, it remained a family owned business. James and Ellen built a legacy over those years and today the family business continues to operate with the same superior customer service values that turned ABC Waste into a household name in Savannah.
One year after ABC Waste was founded Ellen gave birth to their first child, Carolyn Stewart. She grew up playing at the landfill, working on trucks, doing door-to-door collections, and answering the phones. Ellen worked closely with Carolyn teaching her how to build the business. As an adult, she went on to earn her degree in special education and pursued her passion as a leader and teacher. After an impressive 10 year career helping children, she realized her true calling was at ABC with her family and she left her job as a local beloved school teacher to help grow the company into the waste management giant that it is today. Following the passing of her father, James Hodges, in 1996 she took on the company and has remained president and CEO since 1997.
She has been widely admired in the community and by her team because she was never shy about doing the dirty work. She was out everyday substituting where needed, walking behind the truck, delivering residential cans, delivering commercial dumpsters, dumping trash and riding on back of the truck as a toter. In fact, Carolyn was featured in the Savannah morning news as Savannah’s only woman waste hauler. However, make no mistake – it was not an easy ride. What started out as residential trash removal, has turned into a staple for waste management within Savannah. Today, the company currently offers Residential, commercial, construction and industrial waste and recycling services.
She worked tirelessly over the years to build the brand and expand the company’s service offerings. During that time she had a lot of support from the people and businesses in Savannah. Three of her biggest supporters were her husband, and their children. Her son, Charles and daughter, Linda have worked in the family business since childhood riding along in the truck and helping where they could. To this day you will still see Linda and Charles around the office.
Over the years, Charles discovered his passion helping create new innovative solutions in waste management. His oldest memories are that of playing with the yard dogs and passing tools to the mechanics. By elementary school he was able to operate an excavator and dump a dumpster with a front-end truck. He was notorious for showing up late to class during the week after finishing a voluntary morning shift at ABC Waste. As a matter of fact, he ended up working with ABC Waste his entire life having filled every position in the company at one time or another. In 2016, Charles went on to partner with his mother, Carolyn. Raised on family values, along with an appreciation for the community he worked and grew up in – giving back to the community, businesses, and residents that they love is tremendously important.
Charles, Carolyn and ABC Waste have remained involved with the community by donating to various causes and sponsoring many local events over the years. Their integrity, passion, and attention to detail is what makes ABC Waste an industry leader in Savannah. While maintaining the core values of ABC, they have big plans in the upcoming years to expand and continue to build the three generations long legacy paved by James Hodges and Ellen Flinchum-Hodges 70 years ago.