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Viridor's founder dies

Michael Harrison, founder of Viridor Waste Management, has passed away at the age of 75 leaving a legacy of one of the UKs leading waste management companies.

The firm has more than 250 sites and facilities across the UK and works with over 30 local authorities.

Viridor chief executive Mike Hellings said: It was a great privilege to have worked with Mike throughout this time. He taught me the importance of strategy and to look forward and not back. I admired the way he adapted from being a proprietor into a corporate environment avoiding politics.

His great strengths were his vision, detailed knowledge of our industry and an ability to let his managers manage.

Mr Harrison died on the evening of 23 January.  He was born in Oxford on 15th September 1933, and educated at Maughdlen School.  In 1956, as Britain shook itself free of post-war austerity Mikes father Charles formed C W Harrison (Western), the company that would eventually become Viridor, as a West Country liquid waste management firm.  Mr Harrison and Marion Harrison, his wife, received four Bedford liquid waste tankers as a wedding present in March 1957, and took over all customers south of the Mendips.

With Mrs Harrison in the office, Charles a director, and Mike knocking on doors drumming up business in the straight talking style for which he became renowned the first depots at Bridgwater and Street in Somerset and Exeter in Devon were kept busy.

Over the next 50 or so years the firm developed from its humble beginnings to become one of the UKs leading recycling and resource management companies. Harrisons vision set the company on the course it followed.

Milestones included the relocation of the offices to the Harrisons home in Taunton in 1959, and the early use of call centres in Dorset, and Devon in the 1960s.  By 1967 the companys name was changed to Harrison Western Ltd and dry waste collection services started. 

Within a decade, the business had been bought by English China Clays and was renamed Haul Waste a name it was to retain until it became Viridor in 1999. 

During this time the company expanded into landfill operations, and greatly increased the size of its road haulage fleet of waste management vehicles. 

Harrison retired from Viridor in 1994 but continued to take a lively interest in Viridors
progress, while devoting time to his family. His other interests included bridge and cruising.

He leaves two daughters and four grandchildren. His wife Marion died in 2006.

Image: Viridor founder Mike Harrison

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