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Certain things you cannot just throw away. Other items can be cleaned and used multiple times. Various companies provide these services for restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and the like, lowering costs for customers and keeping hazardous materials out of public waste facilities. One such company, Swisher Hygiene (Nasdaq: SWSH  ) , is led by a man who knows a thing or two about trash but also knows how to grow companies. Time will tell if he can work his magic with his latest project.

Who is he?
Wayne Huizenga co-founded Waste Management (NYSE: WM  ) in 1968, later expanding the company by purchasing smaller garbage collection services across the country. Three years after leaving Waste Management, Huizenga purchased Blockbuster Video and used tactics learned at Waste Management to buy stores and expand Blockbuster to 4,000 stores by the time he sold to Viacom in 1994 for $8.4 billion. Shortly thereafter, he did the same with AutoNation (NYSE: AN  ) , buying car dealerships and rolling them up under the AutoNation name.

This practice of buying smaller competitors to grow and expand would continue after he bought into Swisher in 2004, purchasing a majority stake in the company from founder Patrick Swisher for $8.1 million. Huizenga and his business partner Steve Berrard spent the next year buying out most of the remaining stockholders and took the company private. Last year, seeking capital to expand, Swisher merged with CoolBrands International, providing them with the cash needed to help the company grow. Since going public, Swisher has purchased 55 companies in total, rebranding them all under the Swisher Hygiene name.

Room for further growth
Similar to the growth history of Waste Management, Swisher plans to continue its growth by purchasing small mom-and-pop operations across the country. Huizenga thinks that the commercial cleaning industry as a whole is worth upward of $25 billion and that Swisher can carve out a big hunk of that pie. Due to its size, Swisher can't compete against the likes of Ecolab (NYSE: ECL  ) , a large multinational with a premium client list including McDonald's, Marriott, and Starwood Hotels, among others. It is the smaller businesses previously serviced by its acquisitions that will allow Swisher to continue growing.

Beyond restaurants and hotels, there are other industries that need specialized removal services. Biomedical waste produced by hospitals, blood banks, and other similar facilities needs to be removed and disposed of safely. Swisher does service these types of facilities, but also faces competition from much larger Stericycle (Nasdaq: SRCL  ) . Another potential avenue for growth would be in radioactive and hazardous wastes, a segment led by US Ecology (Nasdaq: ECOL  ) . Swisher's recent acquisitions, however, point to growth through the purchase of linen, hygiene, and other chemical companies.

Leadership matters
Although the company is not expected to be profitable until next year, things look promising at Swisher Hygiene. Since it's led by an industry-tested veteran, we can expect Swisher to become a competitor in the multibillion-dollar commercial cleaning industry. Follow all the exciting developments by adding Swisher Hygiene to your free watchlist today.

Fool contributor Robert Eberhard owns no shares in any companies mentioned here. Follow him on Twitter, where he goes by @GuruEbby. The Motley Fool owns shares of Waste Management. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Waste Management, Stericycle, and McDonald's, as well as writing a covered strangle position in Waste Management. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (10)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 03, 2011, at 7:47 AM, givd wrote:

    Fidelity Investments, owns over 23M shares, think they know something about SWSH?

    Fidelity Investments is the LARGEST institutional owner!!!

    Bill Gates a major stock holder in ECL, he likes the industry for growth?

    Wayne and Company WILL make SWSH another Fortune 500 company???

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12/31/1969 7:00 PM
SWSH $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
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