Former chairman, Waste Management
Born: May 20, 1940, in Long Beach, California.
Education: California State University at Fullerton, BA, 1964; California State University at Long Beach, MBA, 1972.
Family: Son of Walter R. Myers and H. Priscilla Larsen; married Elizabeth Jean Ashburn, 1960; children: three.
Career: Ford Motor Company, 1964–1972, financial manager; Merrill Lynch, 1972–1975, financial consultant; Continental Airlines, 1975–1982, Passenger Marketing director; On TV, 1983, vice president of operations; Aloha Airgroup, 1983–1993, president and CEO; America West Airlines, 1993–1995, president; Yellow Corporation, 1996–1999, chairman, CEO, and president; Waste Management, 1999–2004, CEO and president; 2004, chairman.
■ After a successful 10-year stint with the Hawaii-based Aloha Airgroup, A. Maurice Myers was widely known as an efficient leader who specialized in improving the viability and fortunes of troubled companies. After Aloha, Myers moved on to lead a team of troubleshooters in stabilizing America West Airlines; he then oversaw the reorganization of Yellow Corporation, the major ground-transportation company. His final challenge would be to reorganize Waste Management; he carefully guided the company out of a turbulent period of acquisitions and complicated upheaval, bringing order, stability, and profitability to the enlarged entity as its president and chief executive officer. Once he had achieved his basic overall goals, Myers decided to retire and enjoy his accumulated wealth while still relatively young.
With an energetic, hands-on management style, throughout his adult career Myers consistently promoted the maximal use of high-quality computer technology in improving external customer relations and internal management. Myers was known as "Maury" by coworkers and some analysts, who described his efforts to make systemic technical improvements in corporate culture and operations as generally successful.
Myers first acquired important business skills while enrolled in the financial-management training program at Ford Motor Company. He continued his development on the job, earning an MBA and becoming a consultant for Merrill Lynch. He began developing his talents on a greater scale when he became a senior director in the Passenger Marketing department of Continental Airlines. Emphasizing public relations and good service, he learned much about the workings of the transportation industry during a flurry of government deregulation.
In what became his first major test, Myers moved to Hawaii to become the chief executive officer of Aloha Airgroup. He instituted a frequent-flyer program and experimented with an increase in international route expansion before concentrating on the intra–Hawaiian Islands passenger and freight market. Aloha thereby survived the fallout of deregulation while rivals perished. His methods incorporated a careful focus on procurement and maintenance, the building of a more reliable communications infrastructure, and an emphasis on customer satisfaction. After his success with Aloha, Myers provided much the same leadership for the Phoenix-based America West Airlines when he became the company's president.
Having established a reputation as an executive who could turn around slumping companies, Myers next moved on to head Yellow Corporation, where he used his by then well-tried methods—again successfully and again on a grander scale. Myers embraced Internet-based commerce, developing and expanding its capabilities as a customer-relations tool and for accurate, quick-response tracking of goods and services. Myers emphasized that excellent information services, including accounting and information-management systems, were an essential element in corporate infrastructure. He would later tell London's Economist in a basic but telling philosophical formulation, "If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it" (June 30, 2001).
For his last hurrah Myers took the reins of Waste Management in the chaotic wake of its huge merger with USA Waste Services and additional acquisitions. He organized an efficient and energetic management team to build a new infrastructure that would be managed from corporate headquarters in Houston. Though, as he told a staff reporter for the Houston Chronicle , he enjoyed "taking on fix-it jobs," he made clear relatively early in his tenure that the position would be his last before retirement (November 9, 1999).
The recovery task was formidable, but Myers carefully laid out and began implementing a strategy to develop a new companywide information system, improve customer service in all areas, investigate in detail suitable locales for careful market development, and improve procurement and maintenance methods and choices. As he observed in an interview with Waste Age , his vision was to create a successful "transition from a roll-up or consolidation business model to a model based on operational excellence," embracing "initiatives finally integrating all of the 1,400 acquisitions we've made over the years into a single operation" (January 2002).
Having gone far in setting up and implementing his ideas for new economies of scale and instituting cultural changes in the use of information technology and in Waste Management's commitment to customer relations, Myers promoted members from his management team and selected his own replacement. In March 2004 he stepped back to serve as chairman of the board of directors as a prelude to his retirement in November. Waste Management had gained new footing and was able to improve its profit margins.
See also entries on Aloha Airlines, Incorporated, America West Airlines, Waste Management, Inc., and Yellow Corporation in International Directory of Company Histories .
"Business: Cleaning Up the Mess," Economist , June 30, 2001, p. 64.
Fickes, Michael, "A $12 Billion Start-Up," Waste Age , January 2002, pp. 28–35.
Goldberg, Laura, "Dealing Itself a Pile of Problems: Waste Management Pins Rebound Hopes on New Leaders, End to Acquisition Binge," Houston Chronicle , February 6, 2000.
——, "Trash Firm Picks New Top Officer: Trucking, Airline Veteran Takes Job," Houston Chronicle , November 9, 1999.
—Erik Donald France