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Steve's Sanitation buys Jon & Son's Disposal

Casey and Kelly Melgard, from left, owners of Steve's Sanitation in Perham, shake hands with Jon and Brenda Christenson, of Jon & Son's Disposal Services, after signing the final purchase papers last Thursday. Submitted photo

Steve's Sanitation of Perham has purchased Jon & Son's Disposal Service of Detroit Lakes.

The sale became effective Jan. 1, and the final papers were signed last Thursday.

Owners from both companies have said the deal was the right fit for them, at the right time. Services have already transitioned over, with little to no noticeable impact on customers.

The Jon & Son's business name has been dissolved, though people will still see it posted on the sides of garbage cans throughout Becker County for a while. Eventually all those cans, as well as the sides of all the Jon & Son's trucks, will sport the name Steve's Sanitation.

The purchase is a big one for Steve's. Kelly Melgard, who owns the company along with his brother, Casey, said taking on Jon & Son's has increased their customer load by 40 percent. It's also significantly expanded their geographical service footprint, adding routes throughout Becker County in addition to their pre-existing routes in Otter Tail County.

Steve's has taken on the drivers for all of Jon & Son's available routes, and has also hired a new person to help with an increased workload in the office. This spring, the company will be building a new garage next to its existing Perham facility to house additional garbage trucks. For now, those trucks remain in Detroit Lakes.

Steve's and Jon & Son's have a long history of working together. Jon Christenson, who started Jon & Son's in 1999, said it was Steve Melgard, the patriarch of Steve's Sanitation (and Kelly and Casey's father), who helped him get his company off the ground.

"We started out of their shop to establish the business we have today," Christenson wrote in a farewell letter to customers. "We have had a strong working relationship with Steve's Sanitation through all of our years."

"Before starting my business, I saw firsthand how they valued and serviced the needs of their customers on a personal level," he continued. "I am confident that Steve's Sanitation will continue to provide the best services possible."

In a phone interview, Christenson thanked his customers for their years of patronage. He said he and his family recently decided they were "ready to step back a little" from the business, so they approached Kelly and Casey about taking it over.

The Melgards expressed an immediate interest, and "the process proceeded pretty quick," Christenson said.

Steve's has expanded and acquired other companies in the past, and Kelly said he and Casey are always open to more growth, as long as it's not too much, too fast; they don't want to bite off more than they can chew and end up negatively impacting customers. Though Jon & Son's was a sizeable business to take on, Kelly said they felt confident it was one they could handle.

By all accounts, the transition has gone smoothly. Jon & Son's customers should have experienced no significant changes, Kelly said, with routes, service schedules, payment options and even the Jon & Son's business phone number, staying the same. The company is operating entirely out of the existing Steve's Sanitation office, with calls to the old Detroit Lakes number rerouted to Perham.

"So far, everybody's been receptive," Kelly said of customer response to the purchase. "Things have been going well."

"Jon's was a family-owned and family-oriented business, and we are, as well," he added. "We're working together during the transition."

Kelly and Casey now own the business that their father, Steve, started, and their office is staffed primarily by their wives, Stacie and Sarah.

"We have grown up in the business and know all aspects of the garbage hauling business," the brothers wrote in a letter to their new customers. "We're a community-minded company and hope to be a partner in yours."

Former Jon & Son's customers may reach Steve's at the old number still on their garbage cans, 218-849-1225. Existing Steve's customers may continue to use the Perham number they're familiar with, 218-346-4834.

It's worth noting that while Steve's has taken over the disposal portion of Jon & Son's, a smaller branch of the business, the rolloff service (construction boxes), has been sold to separate owners, Josh and Stephanie Mertens. The name of their new company is Rolloff Red, available at 218-850-4892.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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