Michael George DeGroote was born in Belgium in 1933 and emigrated to Canada in 1948 at the age of 14.· He worked on a tobacco farm with his family until he reached the age of 18.· He then bought a used truck and hauled manure and fertilizer to tobacco farmers.· By 1955 he was the owner of four trucks and went to Elliot Lake to haul uranium ore between the mines. ·In 1958 the US cancelled the Uranus Contract with Canada and all the mines shut down. Within a few months he lost everything, real estate, plant and equipment etc. and went through bankruptcy. While Mr. DeGroote owned Laidlaw for a few years, he paid back all his creditors – legally he did not have to pay them back.
In 1959, Mr. DeGroote purchased Laidlaw Inc. in Canada, a small trucking operation with revenue of $400,000.· During the next 31 years, under Mr. DeGroote’s leadership, Laidlaw became one of Canada’s fastest growth companies with 1990 revenue of over $1.6 billion and market capitalization of over $5 billion.· Laidlaw became North America’s largest school bus operator with over 33,000 buses and 38,000 employees. ·In 1975, Laidlaw bought a small waste company which became the third largest waste company in North America with about 75% of its business in the USA.
Laidlaw was Canada’s no. 1 growth stock for 17 straight years.
In 1988 Mr. DeGroote sold his controlling interest in Laidlaw to Canadian Pacific and joined the Canadian Pacific Board.· In 1990 Mr. DeGroote resigned from Laidlaw & CP and moved to Bermuda to retire, got bored and three months later, continued his business endeavors.
Early in 1991, Mr. DeGroote bought Republic Industries, Inc., a waste service company in Houston, Texas.· In 1995, Republic was split into two separate public companies; Republic Industries Inc., servicing the solid waste sector and Republic Environmental Services, Inc., now known as Century Business Services, Inc., (CBIZ).·· In 1997, CBIZ changed course and began acquiring accounting and benefits and insurance agencies throughout the U.S. serving small to midsize companies.· By the year 2000 it had become the 7th largest accounting company in the U.S., with 200 offices across the USA.· ·Mr. DeGroote is still the largest shareholder in CBIZ and one of his sons is on the board of directors.
In August 1995, a long time friend of Mr. DeGroote’s, Mr. H. Wayne Huizenga, of Fort Lauderdale, took over the day-to-day operations of Republic Industries, Inc. as CEO together they also started up an auto retailing company which became the largest U.S. auto retailer, AutoNation Inc.· Mr. DeGroote became a large shareholder and was a board member during that expansion.·· Mr. DeGroote resigned from the board in 2003 to retire again, this time for health reasons. Republic is now the second largest waste company in North America.
In 2004 Mr. DeGroote acquired controlling interest in Waste Services Inc. with its head office in Burlington. Waste Services operated across Canada except Quebec and East there of and is the second largest waste disposal company in the state of Florida. Mr. DeGroote is chairman of the Board of Waste Services Inc. and his two sons are on the board of directors. This Company has revenues of approximately 500 Million US dollars.
Mr. DeGroote has enjoyed a varied and distinguished business career.· He has been innovative, persistent and determined which helped him immensely in his business dealings in the United States and Canada.