"Trashanova" is getting back in the garbage business.
After a five-year absence, New Orleans businessman Sidney Torres IV plans to begin commercial trash collection services in the New Orleans area starting Aug. 1 through a new company, IV Waste LLC.
This time, Torres plans to operate on a much smaller scale than his former business, SDT Waste & Debris Services LLC, known for the "lemony-fresh scent" it brought to the streets of the French Quarter.
That company, which began in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, propelled Torres to local fame, buoyed in part by flashy TV commercials featuring cameos by celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz and Kid Rock.
Chalmette-based SDT was acquired by Progressive Waste Solutions in 2011.
Torres said his decision to get back in the garbage business stemmed largely from the urging of former customers, who have approached him to vent their frustrations about "missed pickups; dirty, smelly cans; broken lids that lead to rodent issues; and terrible service."
As part of SDT's sale, Torres signed a five-year noncompete agreement, he said. That term recently ended.
Torres said he has about 200 customers signed up for his new service, including many French Quarter hotels and restaurants.
He has purchased 10 new garbage trucks, each equipped with GPS technology that allows customers to track when they make a pickup.
Unlike with SDT, which operated in two dozen parishes across the state, Torres said that bidding for government contracts isn't a top priority for IV Waste, although he's open to the possibility and plans to evaluate opportunities as they arise.
He's expecting the company to employ about 30 people. SDT had nearly 300 employees and more than 100 garbage trucks, he said.
"We're really going to focus on being very selective on what customers we're taking," he said.
In particular, Torres said, he won't immediately pursue government work in New Orleans, where he has publicly flirted with the possibility of running for mayor in 2018.
"I'm not going to put myself in a position to bid on public contracts with the city of New Orleans because I want to see who's going to step up" to run for mayor, he said.