Family landfill keeps serving community

Published 10:12 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A family business in Suffolk has taken care of construction spoils for the community for decades.

The John C. Holland Enterprises Landfill is found down a dirt path off Nansemond Parkway. The secluded 70 acres contains a roughly 100-foot-high hill of debris from customers looking to get rid of construction and demolition debris.

“We’re the end of the line,” said president Rhonda Holland. “When it comes here, it’s because no one figured out another way to dispose of it economically.”

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More than 50 trucks come between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. to unload a total of 300 tons daily generated by construction and demolition work.

The facility is also prepared to receive vegetative waste from companies like Bennett’s Creek Nursery and Nansemond Lawn and Garden and will remain open for up to 24 hours to receive debris from hurricanes and other extreme weather, Holland said.

Slate from demolished churches is crushed, metal is scrapped and powerline posts are grinded down. Many of these materials are recycled and reused.

“Our job is to figure out ways to recycle these materials to save space in the landfill.”

Holland’s late husband, John Holland Jr., owned and operated the landfill until his death in December 2011. The Suffolk resident was considered the “last of the John Waynes,” according to his wife, and was known for charity work, creativity and making friends of strangers.

“He was big, strong, and he loved people,” said his sister and office manager, JoAnne Nesson. “He never met a stranger.”

Rhonda Holland took over her husband’s responsibilities after his passing, and she and Nesson continue operations in an industry not known to have many women.

“He always treated me equally because of the responsibility of the family business,” Holland said. “He kept me informed so the business would keep going.”

She emphasized that John C. Holland Enterprises is a family-owned operation that looks after its customers.

“I care about what goes in this landfill, and I care about my customers,” Rhonda said. “We understand what it takes to go out there and try to make a living, and all the obligations that go with it. When we see our customers struggle, we work with them, and very few of them have ever let us down.”

About 15 employees handle the machinery to process the waste at the landfill. At 82 years old, Sidney Nelson is the oldest employee on the roster and has been with the company since their location first opened in 1979.

“I can’t find no better people to work for,” Nelson said.

Holland can be seen walking around the site and greeting each of her employees with a smile.

“One of the things he used to say to me was when you’re a business, you’re not just taking care of yourself,” she said of her husband. “Every man and woman that’s employed by us is counting on us to make good decisions.”

Like everyone else at the landfill, this president is ready to get her hands dirty to take care of waste business daily.

“If it needs to be done, it’s all hands on deck,” Rhonda said. “It’s a family business, and in a family, everybody takes the trash out.”