Embattled Rizzo touts new name, colors to City Council

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — The company formerly known as Rizzo Environmental Services has new ownership, a new name, and will be introducing new colors, company officials explained at a Detroit City Council meeting Wednesday.

Council member Mary Sheffield asks questions of executives from Advanced Disposal Services, Inc. and GFL Environmental USA, Inc. as they address Detroit City Council members during their Regular Session, Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016. They both are contracted to provide garage and recycling pickup services for Detroit. GFL acquired Rizzo Environmental Services on Oct. 1.

Rizzo was acquired by Toronto-based GFL Environmental Inc. on Oct. 1. Though the City Council agenda still listed the company by its old name, it now goes by GFL Environmental USA Inc., said founder and CEO Patrick Dovigi.

GFL stands for “green for life,” and the name change will affect the company’s branding going forward. While its 400 or so trucks in Metro Detroit will have new decals placed on them “by the end of the month,” said spokesman Joe Munem, over the next year trucks will be pulled off the streets and repainted green.

Wednesday’s appearance before City Council was its annual check-in, and its presentation was similar to that of Advanced Disposal, another waste management firm.

GFL Environmental USA, Inc. president and CEO Patrick Dovigi shares a laugh as he waits to address Detroit City Council members on Wednesday morning, November 9, 2016.

Absent from the brief discussion of the old company’s new name and ownership was any explicit mention of the legal issues involving affiliates of Rizzo, which is cooperating with a federal investigation into alleged bribe-taking by public officials in Macomb County.

Clinton Township trustee Dean Reynolds was indicted last week on eight counts of bribery involving two companies, and accused of taking bribes totaling $70,000 since 2009 from companies that do business with the township.

Macomb Township trustee Clifford Freitas was arrested by the FBI last month and stands accused of taking bribes to steer contracts to Rizzo, even though he did not vote on the final contract itself. Those allegations led township supervisor Janet Dunn to call for the termination of the contract with the old Rizzo Environmental Services earlier this month.

No such calls were made at Wednesday’s meeting, and the legal entanglements involving the old Rizzo company were only mentioned tangentially. The continuity between Rizzo and GFL USA was treated as an assurance, not a problem as GFL takes over the contract that Rizzo was awarded in February 2014.

The customer service people are the same. The drivers are the same. The trucks are the same. The supervisors are the same, Dovigi said in response to queries about what would change under new ownership. The owners have changed, the name has changed, and soon the company’s colors will, too, as Rizzo red gives way to GFL green.

The company formerly known as Rizzo Environmental Services has new ownership, a new name, and will be introducing new colors, company officials explained at a Detroit City Council meeting Wednesday.

Other than a Dovigi reference to “one individual who resigned” — Rizzo founder Chuck Rizzo Jr., who was not mentioned by name — one wouldn’t have known that anything other than a routine transfer of assets had taken place.

There was a question, from Council President Brenda Jones, about whether the name change would necessitate the contract being reviewed again by City Council.

Munem said he doesn’t believe that will be necessary, given that no provisions of the deal are altered by the name change, but that the company is prepared to do so if asked.

Officials from the city law department will look into it.

“What we’re looking for is a long-term relationship with the council and the administration,” Munem said.

jdickson@detroitnews.com