SCA was unique in that it was not originally supposed to be a waste hauler. SCA was incorporated by Berton Steir as a diversified conglomerate, providing building maintenance, vending, food, travel, and waste disposal service. SCA's first acquisition was of seven vending companies, a building maintenance company, and a single waste hauler. By the time its stock was placed on the NYSE, it had decided to focus on waste disposal instead. Similar to many of the other firms around this time, it would purchase companies with its stock. In the early 1970s, SCA absorbed 87 independent contractors. As part of the deals, SCA would keep the current management in control. The Harvard-educated Steir naively acquired New Jersey trash companies, with disguised ownership, which subsequently caused SCA problems. Berton Steir left the company in 1976.
SCA was the first major trash hauler to enter New Jersey, which proved to be highly unstable for the company. To combat this, Tom Viola and his firm were enlisted to soften up the market. Viola also brought his criminal connections with him, but despite this, he was made SCA's vice president. Another waste hauler, based out of Utica, New York, was owned by Anthony Bentro. Bentro was infamous for his connections to Anthony Provenzano, a mobster linked with plots to murder Fidel Castro, John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Hoffa. Months after Hoffa's assassination, prominent members of SCA's New York team were indicted for planning a $300,000 kickback to Mobsters and Teamsters.
SCA began to diversify into the world of hazardous wastes. It owned sites in five states. One of these dumps in Niagara Falls, New York, near the infamous Love Canal site, became a local terror. Lagoons of industrial waste would emerge during rainstorms, and highway officials reported of numerous explosions and fires. A 1976 incident was described as sending flames and exploding drums 80 feet in the air. Continued public protest made SCA prefer incineration of toxic wastes to landfill burial. These efforts appeared to pay off when President Carter banned hazardous waste burial, but the Reagan administration quickly reversed these policies.
The companies criminal connections would become known after the murder of several independent contractors who had challenged SCA in New Jersey. Immediately afterwards, the towns reverted back to SCA's services. In response to these accusations, SCA tried to dispose of all of its New Jersey operations, but it couldn't find a buyer. Due to the numerous troubles that Tom Viola had gotten the company into, he resigned in 1981. Viola was replaced by a far more reputable business leader, Henry Russell. In one of the strangest alliances in the companies history, SCA joined the Environmental Defense Fund to reinstate the ban of hazardous waste dumping. But these moves just forestalled SCA's inevitable demise.
Houston based Browning-Ferris Industries attempted to swallow the company whole in 1982. Many inside the company questioned if this would work. SCA had rejected an offer by Waste Management in 1977, and this was no different. What would have amounted to an $210 million dollar deal, was rejected by the company. Canadian waste hauler Laidlaw was going to purchase SCA, but the various scandals and criminal connections that the company had deterred the company from pursuing merger. Through a subsidiary, 60 percent of SCA was eventually purchased by Waste Management, Inc.
Close Up of Vignette:
Common Stock Certificate, specimen, 1970’sPrinter: Security-Columbian / United States Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: MA-Massachusetts Subject Matter: Waste Management
| Specimen Pieces Vignette Topic(s): Male Subject
| Astronomy Featured
| Globe Featured Condition:
No fold lines, punch hole cancels in the signature areas and body, and some toning and edge faults from age.