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Updated: July 27, 2020

Paine-Miller prepares to take reins of family’s trash-hauling empire

Photo | Contributed Julie Paine-Miller with her cousin Mike Paine Jr.


Category | Rising Star — Julie Paine-Miller, Vice President of East Granby-based Paine’s Inc.

As the vice president of Paine’s Inc. Rubbish and Recycling, Julie Paine-Miller has a hand in just about every aspect of the family business. Finances, marketing, customer service, long-term planning — Paine-Miller does a bit of it all.

But the work that makes her most proud? Her efforts to demystify the often invisible and sometimes thankless job of picking up and hauling away people’s trash.

Paine-Miller never misses a chance to shine a spotlight on her drivers and their work, whether it’s by posting their photos on Facebook, giving away coloring books and T-shirts through the company’s “junior enthusiast” program, or, pre-COVID, by reading to kids at a touch-a-truck event.

She said the public health crisis has, in some ways, made it easier to foster connections with the community, since more people are at home to see the drivers on their routes. Some have written notes or left chalk messages on their driveways for the essential workers to thank them.

“Before this, I think a lot of people would just put out a full barrel, go to work, then come home and bring in an empty barrel,” she said. “They never gave it much thought.”

With her uncle and current company president, Mike Paine Sr., now near retirement, Paine-Miller, 38, is poised to become the fourth generation of her family to lead the business.

Although she didn’t set out to take over (she initially studied to become a teacher), the company is at the center of her earliest memories.

She recalls spending long summer afternoons playing in the truck yard, cooking up innocent mischief with her brother and cousin, and remembers how workers would oftentimes drop by her house in the evenings “just to say hi.”

“I was always watching, listening and learning here,” she said.

Paine-Miller’s great-grandparents, Albert and Mary, started the company in Simsbury in 1929, collecting food scraps from local schools to feed the pigs on the family farm.

Her grandfather, Don, relocated it to East Granby in the 1970s and it expanded from a single truck to the modern-day rubbish and recycling company it is today.

With 73 employees, Paine’s services more than 50,000 residential and 1,400 commercial customers a week in Greater Hartford and northwest Connecticut, and was the first in New England to institute automated collection and curbside recycling.

Paine-Miller said she first began to envision a future at the company at 23, after taking her first “official” job in the customer-service department. She was surprised by how much she loved the role.

“When the question [about her long-term commitment] was officially asked, I just knew that this was where I wanted to be,” she said. “I wanted to see this company into the next generation.”

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