How a Texas landfill became known as a good neighbor in Austin
When it comes to finding an event space for a good cause, there’s plenty of venues to choose from in the state capital of Texas, but the most unique site might just be at the same facility as an active-working landfill.
Whether it’s an annual fundraiser for a non-profit or an event for a local cause, the privately-owned Texas Disposal Systems’ (TDS) Exotic Game Ranch is a top choice for events held by qualified community non-profits in Austin and its surrounding communities.
No group is ever charged for the use of the facility or for staff services, and with a little more than 2,400 events hosted, TDS has helped raise more than $26 million for charitable causes since 2000.
Located in Creedmoor, Texas—just 10 miles southeast from downtown Austin—the Exotic Game Ranch is part of a vision from TDS co-founders and co-owners, Bob and Jim Gregory, of how to build a company culture.
“Community partnership and being a good neighbor is embedded in our culture,” explained Bob Gregory, TDS president and CEO. “We believe that culture results in a better way of doing business.”
The Exotic Game Ranch plays a critical role in that culture, particularly in the way that it shows living evidence of how well a landfill can be run. Standing just a few hundred yards away from the landfill’s working face, the Exotic Game Ranch is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including rhinos, gazelle, zebras, and much more. Animals from every continent but Antarctica are represented, and most of these animals can be seen on the drive into the event space.
“You hear a lot of horror stories about poorly operated landfills, but we know it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Justin Gregory, director of wildlife at the ranch and son of Jim Gregory. “Our ranch is living proof of our conservation efforts and how properly run landfill operations with strong environmental stewardship can co-exist. If you didn’t already know there was a landfill next door, you might not be able to tell while on the ranch.”
By using innovative methods such as a small working face, constant covering of waste and diversion efforts for organics and recyclables, the landfill facility operates in a way that can be described as noticeably different and noticeably better.
“We are committed to maintaining the highest environmental standards in our landfill, composting, recycling and surrounding buffer zone development and operations, and including access to our on-site TDS Exotic Game Ranch and Pavilion,” said Bob Gregory.
A Family Affair
Since its founding, the Exotic Game Ranch has always remained a family operation, just like the company itself. Justin Gregory manages the care of animals and wildlife while Jennifer Gregory, Jim’s daughter, runs events and day-to-day operations. Other family members, such as Bob’s daughter, Rebekah Koehly Gregory, also work at the ranch and with the family of companies that TDS operates.
“We do a little bit of everything around here,” Jennifer Gregory explained. “Whatever we need to do, we work together to make sure it’s right.”
Other members of the Gregory family serve in other roles of the business. Still owned by the Gregory brothers, TDS has grown into one of the largest independently owned and operated disposal companies in North America. Even with this growth, the vision of being a good neighbor has never escaped from the company’s mindset.
“Above all, we ensure community participation is part of everything we do,” Bob Gregory stated.
For nearly 20 years, the Exotic Game Ranch has served as TDS’ most noticeable signature of community participation. It’s also allowed TDS to introduce their business model to numerous individuals, nonprofits, business owners and policymakers who wish to use the ranch for an event space or understand more about it. These individuals then quickly learn of TDS’ commitment to being a responsible and eco-friendly corporate citizen.
The mission of the Gregory’s hasn’t changed since they began the company in 1977—it just expanded to include a unique way of being a good neighbor.
“We lead by example,” Bob Gregory said. “And we encourage other businesses to utilize their own facilities and resources in creative ways to be good neighbors and benefit their communities.”
By J.D. Moore, Multimedia Specialist, Texas Disposal Systems (TDS)