Three ways to tell when garbage service could be delayed – and why

Feb. 6, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Novak Sanitary Service.

It has been a tough winter on everyone – including your garbage collector.

“During the winter of 2017-18, we shut down two days. So far this winter, we’ve shut down four days, and there still could be months ahead of us,” said Mike Herbst, general manager of Novak Sanitary Service.

Novak takes the decision to delay service seriously and takes a lot of factors into consideration.

Extreme cold like we experienced in January is a factor. Snow is a factor, especially blowing snow that limits visibility. Sometimes it’s ice.

“We have 60,000-pound vehicles on the road,” Herbst said. “If they’re sliding around, it’s not safe for anyone. We want our employees to be safe – it’s our No. 1 operating value – and we need the community to be safe too.”

There have been incidents locally with other drivers who can’t stop because of winter conditions sliding into garbage trucks, he said. That can cause serious injury to individuals, extreme damage to their vehicles and enough damage to a Novak truck that it can be taken out of service for a couple of months.

“And then, unfortunately, we have a truck down, and we’re trying to cover routes, so we’re sacrificing service to customers,” Herbst said.

“Even worse, nationally, there were 20 fatalities in our industry in January. A lot of it is related to distracted driving and from people not related to our industry – cellphones and high-tech dashboards are distracting them and causing them to get into accidents with garbage vehicles.”

Novak also is mindful of days when school is called off because it could mean more kids outdoors, he said.

So how do you know when your service might be delayed?

A phone call

If you’re a residential customer and Novak has your phone number, it will send you an automated call telling you service is delayed.

If you see a missed call from Novak or are confused about your service, you can call 605-338-7126, which is normally staffed with customer service help even when drivers aren’t working.


Service delays always will be posted online. Just check and look for a message like this one.

Television crawl

Novak will submit its service delays to the “close line” services offered by local television stations that crawl at the bottom of your screen.

What happens next

When possible, Novak treats a service delay like a holiday. So your garbage will be picked up one day later.

If it involves more than one day, service is delayed until the following normal pickup day the next week.

“We’re very thankful for our understanding customers,” Herbst said. “They accept why we’re closed, and we’re very grateful.”

Commercial customers

Novak’s supervisors will drive through commercial properties during winter weather to make sure parking lots and trash enclosures are accessible for trucks.

If they aren’t, or if the same inclement weather challenges exist, service will be delayed.

“Dispatch will call a business customer and say why they can’t be serviced, and if they can get the access issue resolved, we’ll come back the same day as long as we’re on the road,” Herbst said. “And we try to proactive, so if we know bad weather is coming and it’s a customer with a high volume of trash, we will try to get there a day ahead if we can.”

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Three ways to tell when garbage service could be delayed – and why

It has been a tough winter on everyone — including your garbage collector. Here’s how to tell when your service might be delayed — and why.

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