An immigrant from Bulgaria, Emil Bekyarov is the quintessential definition of the American Dream.
By Jennifer Morrell
Emil Bekyarov made a life-altering decision at the age of 20, moving to the United States from Bulgaria. With only $400 and a dream, he emigrated first to upstate New York and worked in the food service industry to make ends meet.
Ever the motivated entrepreneur, Bekyarov eventually took his future into his own hands, moving to metro Atlanta where a relative was living. He already had begun taking English lessons and quickly moved into a food service management position. Everything was clicking, as he learned the business of budgeting and managing a staff.
During this time, Bekyarov observed a high number of bottles and cans being thrown into the trash. He wanted to do something to prevent this waste. So, just three years after his move to the United States, Bekyarov started B Green Services. “I knew how important recycling was, because a lot of my cousins back in Bulgaria work in sanitation,” Bekyarov says. “I knew a little bit about the business, so I decided to just give it a shot.”
He recalls that he was “just crazy enough” at the young age of 23 — even during the Great Recession in 2009 — to start the business. Financial institutions basically laughed at him when he attempted to acquire a loan, but he was not deterred. Bekyarov moved forward with his plan to start his own recycling and sanitation company, beginning with only a pick-up truck.
In a mere three months, he purchased his first garbage truck, which had 90,000 miles on it, not even knowing how to actually crank it. He took the leap to buy that first garbage truck after knocking on a few doors, explaining his service-oriented philosophy, and drumming up enough business to warrant the purchase. He also hired his first employee during that time.
“I would drive my garbage truck on my day off [from my other job] and go and sell accounts during the day before my shift,” Bekyarov says. “I went to my friends who ran restaurants and hotels and asked them if they would give me a shot, and they did.”
To say that Bekyarov is a self-taught, self-starter is an understatement. To his earliest customers, his drive and determination were palpable, and his vision was clear. He would own a company with an impactful mission of recycling in his community as well as bringing pride to his employees who would work in the sanitation industry.
Bekyarov had to determine which facet of the waste industry would make the most sense. Heavy industry and commercial clients were ruled out as potential customers because servicing those was simply too costly. Since considerable competition existed in the residential markets, service to multi-family properties created a sweet spot for the company.
The option to recycle in multi-family properties became mandatory in Cobb County, which meant B Green Services had a strong chance of making the business work. While Bekyarov knew he didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, he also knew his company would have to be better and stand out. At the time, only one main competitor provided recycling to owners of apartment complexes. Bekyarov capitalized on the opportunity and has never looked back.
Voted “Trash Company of the Year” on Nextdoor.com, the company’s great success comes from old-fashioned word of mouth and the unwavering provision of reliable service, says Bekyarov. “We started as a recycling company and continue to expand our recycling services with both our commercial and residential customers,” he says. “We are also one of the very few companies in Cobb County that still runs recycling collection every week.”
Bekyarov’s day begins in the wee hours of the morning and ends well into the night. He works with his wife, Angie, and his father, who six months out of the year resides in the U.S. to work at B Green as well.
Servicing more than 15,000 people in both commercial and residential properties in southern and eastern Cobb County, the company owns 29 trucks and currently employs 34 people — an amazing amount of growth in a short 13 years. B Green Services is the third-largest recycling and sanitation company in the county. His employees make $50,000+ per year, and the turnover is low to non-existent. They are paid a higher wage than what is the industry standard, and they work in an environment with a small-family feel.
Growth during a pandemic
Bekyarov says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his staff were faced with many unknowns regarding how B Green might be affected. People generated a greater volume of trash than they normally would because they were stuck at home. Thus, Bekyarov hired more workers during the pandemic. Best of all, those newly hired employees were able to keep their jobs, even after the pandemic dissipated.
“Everybody started cleaning their garages and ordering takeout food with everything delivered in a box,” he says. “Someone had to pick it up, so it was us.”
Bekyarov makes a point to ensure his employees know that they are valued. “We emphasize to our staff the importance of their jobs as a service to our community and remind them that they are not just ‘trash men,’” he says. “During COVID, they became ‘healthcare workers’ who were the first line of defense from diseases.”
B Green Services can give some people a second chance at a happy, successful life. Bekyarov says he employs people who have suffered in the past from drug addiction, for example. He and his team are incredibly proud of the team members who have been able to turn their lives around and are now thriving.
“For example, we service a lot of concert venues in town, and many of our guys clean up the amphitheaters afterward,” Bekyarov says. “A lot of our drivers are long-lasting employees who we met through second-chance programs from which they graduated, such as rehab. Their credit may be messed up, so we have subleased apartments for some while they got back on their feet. We also assist with transportation as needed.”
The entire company also participates with the Tunnels to Towers Foundation, sponsoring a golfing event hosted by Lincoln Property Management. The non-profit pays for housing and education for those — spouses or children — who lost people during and after 9-11.
Pride in the work
“A lot of people look down on [sanitation workers], but at the same time, this is a very important job in our community,” Bekyarov says. “We have a lot of young men who take pride in what they do. Every day, they get out on the streets and work in the elements. It’s not a glamorous job; it’s tough and physical. They have a purpose, helping so many people in our community.”
Bekyarov is sheepish about exclaiming his own accomplishments, but he is not shy when it comes to talking about his staff or the service they provide.
“As a Cobb County resident for 15 years and owning business and property in the county, I would like residents to know that we are a part of the community,” Bekyarov says. “We have to be profitable, but we are not obsessed with profits. We try to be fair in the market and provide good service for folks. We are men and women from a local company who make the customer’s experience as a priority.”