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EJ Harrison

Working Together for a Better Environment
Do’s and Don’ts About Plastic Bags

Picture: The office staff at E. J. Harrison & Sons make good use of plastic bags and shredded recycled paper.

Our thoughts are with all of you this holiday season. Plastic bags, the kind you get from supermarkets and department stores, have pretty much replaced brown paper bags in recent years. You already knew that.

But do you know what to do with that growing pile of plastic bags taking up all your valuable kitchen cabinet space?

First, there are three things that you should not do with your plastic bags. Do not put them in your blue recycling container or your brown green waste recycling container. They cause major litter problems in our landfills especially during windy

weather and also at the green waste recycling facilities—people do not want to buy gardening products with plastic pieces in it. Reuse is the best solution for plastic bag litter--If you are going to throw away your plastic bags, weigh them down with trash.

You can line your small bathroom or kitchen trash containers with them, or take them along on your dog’s walk and use them for scooped out remains from your cats litter box. Keep a supply in your garage for messes and keep a supply in the glove compartment or under the passenger seat of your car to dump out trash that you carry into the car.

Another alternative is to bring your plastic bags back to the supermarket. Take them to the check stand and reuse them yourself, or deposit them in plastic bag recycling bins that you can find near the entrances of most supermarkets.

There are dozens of ways you can reuse and recycle plastic bags. Be kind to your environment. If you have any great ideas for reuse please email us back and we will pass it along in the next newsletter. E-mail to

Harrison Earns 2007 Family Business Award

Harrison Industries has been recognized as one of only five winners in the Tri-Counties of the 2007 Family Business Award by the Pacific Coast Business Times.

The weekly business publication selected Harrison Industries for its “Family Business Titans” category based on the high number of family members involved in the company as well as the company’s accomplishments, reputation and community involvement.

“Harrison Industries is one of California’s largest and most successful family businesses, and we’re thrilled to be honoring the company on its 75th anniversary,” said Henry Dubroff, Chairman and Editor of the Pacific Coast Business Times.

Harrison Industries and the other winners will receive their honors at the Family Business Award breakfast on March 1 at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in Ventura.

Harrison Industries Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Picture: ( Left) Early Harrison trash collection trucks. (Right) E. J. unloads boxes of materials that he has collected from his trash route. (Bottom) The ground breaking of the Saticoy shop in 1969.

In 1932, America was in the midst of the Great Depression, and its citizens, desperate for a “New Deal,” elected Franklin D. Roosevelt president. It was also the year that Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany. Charles Lindberg’s baby was kidnapped in 1932, and “Grand Hotel,” in which Greta Garbo uttered her famous line,“I want to be alone,” won the Academy Award for best motion picture. The cost of a first -class postage stamp in 1932 was two cents. The average price for a new car was $610 and gasoline was 10 cents a gallon.

The population of Ventura was 11,000 in 1932. Pork roast was on sale at the Pay ‘n Takit Market on The Avenue for 8 cents a pound, a 25-pound bag of potatoes cost 33 cents and a dozen eggs went for 18 cents. Men had their choice of suits for $9.85, $12.85 and $16.85 at Nash Clothiers on Main Street, and a two- bedroom stucco home on South San Clemente Ave was yours for $2,500, with $100 down.

In sports, athletes from all over the world converged in the Los Angeles Coliseum for the Summer Olympics. That fall, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the New York Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs in four games to win the 1932 World Series.

Senator Ted Kennedy, actor Peter O’Toole and actress Elizabeth Taylor all were born in 1932. So was Harrison Industries. The company was founded during the Great Depression by E. J. Harrison, who fashioned a truck from several car bodies and began making a modest living by hauling his neighbors’ trash to the Ventura dumps. Harrison’s young wife Myra helped with the books.

Seventy-five years later, Myra Harrison, who turns 92 in February, remains with the company as founder. Her oldest son Ralph is president while her other sons Jim and Myron serve as vice presidents. Harrison Industries celebrates its 75th anniversary this year as one of the oldest and largest privately owned trash collection businesses in the United States. It services about 80,000 customers in Ventura, Camarillo, Fillmore, Ojai, Santa Paula,Thousand Oaks and surrounding unincorporated areas of Ventura County with residential, commercial and industrial service. The company also collects trash in Carpinteria and other parts of Santa Barbara County.

Much as changed since 1932, but Harrison Industries has kept up with the times and thrived over the years by offering superior customer service at reasonable rates, and by being on the forefront of the recycling movement in the state. All customers are provided the opportunity to recycle over 17 different materials, including newsprint, glass, cardboard, plastic and paper products, which are taken to Gold Coast Recycling and Transfer station where they are sorted, baled and recycled for use.

Harrison Industries also collects green waste materials like grass, tree branches and leaves and takes them to California Wood Recycling where they are processed and then shipped to Agromin to be made into 250 different soil products that are used in agriculture, the landscape industry and for home garden use and in addition material is sent to the biofuel markets.

Harrison Industries also has taken several steps toward reducing air pollution by opening the first liquefied natural gas fueling station in western Ventura County and converting a significant number of diesel trucks in its fleet to run on the cleaner burning LNG. The company has also ordered 15 new fully-dedicated LNG trucks.

For its environmental efforts, Harrison Industries in 2005 was one of five recipients nationwide of the prestigious Blue Sky Award, presented by CALSTART, North America’s leading advanced transportation technologies consortium. In 2006, the California Air Resources Board also singled out Harrison Industries as being one of 20 refuse companies statewide to be ahead of schedule in meeting strict cleaner air regulations for its trash and recycling collection vehicles.

Myra Named Grand Marshal of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Ventura on Saturday, March 17. The parade’s theme this year is “Go Green,” and Myra was selected in honor of Harrison’s many efforts in environmental protection, from its innovative recycling programs to the company’s purchase of several new trucks fueled by clean-burning liquefied natural gas. Harrison also has converted many of its fleet’s diesel trucks to run on LNG. Last fall, the company also took a major step toward helping to reduce air pollution by opening the first LNG fueling station in western Ventura County. “On March 17th everyone is Irish, but Harrison & Sons is Green all year long,” said Ventura City Councilman Jim Monahan, also a member of the County Ventura St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. “We are honored to have Myra Harrison and E. J. Harrison & Sons as our Grand Marshals, and we thank them for their contributions to Ventura County. ”

E. J. Harrison & Sons also is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Myra, who turned 92 in February, will be accompanied in the parade by family members and LNG trucks. The parade will begin at 10 a. m. in front of the San Buenaventura Mission and make its way up Main Street, past the reviewing stand on Chestnut Street and finishing up on Laurel Street. The parade is an Irish celebration of the environment. Bands, floats, car clubs and horses from all over Ventura County will “Go Green” to the delight of friends and neighbors from throughout the county.

Harrison Supports School Talent Show

 E. J. Harrison & Sons founder Myra Harrison will be Grand Marshal of 19th Annual  Harrison Industries was a proud sponsor of “The Festival of Talent” on Feb. 24, an annual event that showcases the creative talents of students of all ages from schools throughout the Ventura Unified School District.

The show was kicked off with a pre-show event that included a silent auction featuring a signed guitar and compact discs from country music star LeAnn Rimes. Ther were hors d’oeuvres and desserts, live entertainment and other prizes.

This exciting event was also sponsored by the Ventura Kiwanis and the Ventura Education Partnership, which raises money for children and programs in the VUSD.

Longtime Harrison Employee Retires

Picture: (L to R) Ralph Harrison congratulates Dick Clark and his wife Diane for Dick’s 39 years of service with Harrison Industries.

Dick Clark, the television icon, hosted the teen dance show American Bandstand for 37 years and since 1972 has welcomed in the New Year from Times Square for TV revelers. While his ability to hold onto a job for so many years is impressive, it doesn’t quite meet the standard set by E. J. Harrison & Sons’ icon Dick Clark.

Clark started working as a driver for E. J. Harrison on April 24, 1968, the same day his twin daughters, Jan and Ann, were born. Clark worked all day long, went straight to the hospital, and came back to work the following morning at 5 a. m.

That’s how his career with E. J. Harrison started. It ended on Jan. 26, 2007, with a retirement gala for Clark celebrating his 39 years with the company. “It’s been a great experience,” Clark said. “A good company to work for. Time just flew. ” Clark, 62, and his wife Diane will spend their retirement years fishing and relaxing in Pingred, Idaho, where they bought a home.

Clark held a number of positions early in his career with E. J. Harrison. He was a driver for six months, and then became the company’s “yardman” for a year. Clark went on to driving in Ojai for five years before becoming a roll- off driver for a year. In 1976, Clark became field supervisor for Camarillo, El Rio and sometimes Newbury Park, a position he held for nearly 31 years until his retirement. Asked about his experience at E. J. Harrison, Clark said,“It’s a very steady job. I had the opportunity to associate with a lot of good people. I learned about myself, how to talk and interact with people, and how to calm down an angry customer. ” Clark added:“The opportunity came along and I took it. I was in the right place at the right time. I was able to support my family these 39 years. I didn’t have to worry about a paycheck. It was always there. I have always been treated well by the owners of the company. ”

Before coming to E. J. Harrison, Clark drove a truck for five years at Ventura County Sand Company (now the Pt. Mugu Park). When the company was closed by the State of California, Clark, then 23 and with a wife expecting twins, was without a job. That’s when he applied for a job with E. J. Harrison.

While he looks forward to retirement, Clark admitted he is going to miss the company and his co-workers. “It’s going to be hard not having to get up on Monday morning and going to work,” he said.

Santa Paula Chamber Awards Dinner

Santa Clara Valley Disposal was a Gold Level sponsor of the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards dinner on Feb. 3 at the Glen Tavern Inn.

Operations Manager Lynn Harrison and his wife Patty attended the gala event that honored Sam Edwards, a retired physician who oversaw the reopening of Santa Paula Hospital last summer, with a new award for “distinguished community service that has been named after Dr. Edwards.

The Santa Paula Chamber also recognized Ron Merson as its Citizen of the Year. Merson has run Santa Paula’s Christmas Parade for the last 25 years and is also a youth soccer coach and a leader at the local and national levels of the American Youth Soccer Organization.

The John Nichols Gallery received the Business of the Year award, and the Building/Site Improvement and Beautification Project award went to the City of Santa Paula for its work on Main Street.

Mulch Matters

 This commentary by Nan Drake appeared in the editorial section of Ventura Count Star on February 18, 2007. It is in response to an article that the Star printed on January 19, 2007 called “Much ado about mulch. ”

As a former member of the Ventura City Council and one who has been actively involved in environmental issues for more than two decades, I was offended by this ill-informed article. The article, by Joe Lamp’l of Scripps Howard News Service, was obviously not written by a Californian, nor someone who understands the mulch process — at least not in highly regulated California. Reuse is the most important element of recycling. Without it, the recycling movement would fail. To slight the reuse of materials recycled

into mulch is a disservice to Californians who lead the nation in recycling efforts. The use of mulch products accounts for 35 percent of the diversion numbers in the state.

The use of mulch is a win-win for everyone. What comes out of your green waste barrel not only can be returned to your own yards, but is saving local farmers thousands of dollars in water cost, erosion losses and pesticide costs. The legal mulch industry in California is highly regulated, and all is inspected on a regular basis and is free of the problems mentioned by the writer. The primary local mulch supplier is Agromin, which recently won the city of Ventura’s Environmental Excellence Award. Agromin serves all the cities in Ventura County and Santa Clarita and assists with reuse in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. Mulch products are used by farmers for field and orchard crops and also for landscaping at such upscale venues as the Getty Museum and Dodger Stadium, the home of Oprah Winfrey and others.

The process of making mulch provides an end use for recycled green waste materials, thus keeping those materials out of landfills. Environmentally conscious Californians have made it clear they want as few landfills in the state as possible. The California Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989 mandates that cities reduce the amount of material going to landfills by 50 percent. Since more than 47 percent of California’s waste stream is organic material, cities in Ventura County realized that by recycling this material into soil products for farmers and consumers, they could keep it out of landfills, meet their obligation under the law and do something good for the environment.

When it comes to green-waste recycling,Ventura County enjoys certain bragging rights. Virtually all the green waste that Ventura County residents and businesses deposit in their green-waste bins is processed and returned to the soil — either on acres of area farmland or through consumer products. Not many other California counties can make such a claim. Ventura County produces about 200,000 tons of green waste each year, much of which comes from the grass clippings and leaves collected in green recycling bins. It’s estimated that each residence produces about 1 ton of waste each year, of which 25 percent is green waste.

By putting only leaves, grass, wood, small branches and yard trimmings into green recycling barrels for curbside pickup, county residents are doing their part to produce clean, healthy and environmentally friendly material for local farming and landscaping needs. Once the materials are taken from curbsides they begin a 60- to 90-day journey, which includes rigorous inspections, that will eventually bring them full circle — back to the county’s farmland, professional landscaping and residential backyards.

Up to 20,000 tons of green waste a month is collected in Ventura County. Once collected from county homes and businesses, the green waste is taken within 24 hours to a processing plant where it is sorted for nongreen waste materials such as plastics, metals, rocks and paper. After being sorted, the material is then ground and put through giant screens that remove oversized particles (over 2 inches) and any missed paper, plastics or metals. The recyclers must act quickly to stabilize the material to control odors and temperature. Green waste can reach high temperatures that will kill the microorganisms that are needed to eventually break down the waste and turn it into soil products. After 60 to 90 days, depending on temperature stabilization, the material is screened one final time. It’s tested to be sure it is free of any pathogens. It is further tested to ensure the correct balance of nitrogen and carbon. The material is then combined with natural urban wood waste and other virgin materials to create the final products: soil amendments, soil blends and mulches.

I don’t know what state Mr. Lamp’l was writing about in his mulch article, but it couldn't have been about California.

--Nan Drake served on the Ventura City Council from 1985 to 1990, is a past chairwoman of the Los Angeles Region Water Quality Control Board and past member of the California Integrated Waste Management Board. She is the director of governmental affairs for E. J. Harrison & Sons. (Joe Lamp’l, the author of “Much ado about mulch,” was writing in the state of Georgia. His article can be accessed here — Editor. )



Nan Drake signature
Nan Drake
Harrison Industries

phone: 805-701-9809