CERO Cooperative, Inc.
CERO Cooperative, Inc.
Organic Waste Management Services

A Behind The Scenes Look At The Daily Operations Of CERO

08.05.2023 02:00 PM By Max Aaronson

         Running a worker cooperative takes time, effort, and dedication, and CERO is no exception to this rule. Since the inception of the company, our team members have worked hard to ensure the continued success of the business, as well as foster meaningful and helpful relationships with our partners. As we have grown, the team continues to work day in and day out to keep up with the increasing list of responsibilities.                                                                                           

         A work day at CERO starts bright and early at five in the morning when the operations team gets together to plan out the daily pickup/delivery schedule. Josefina, our Operations Manager, and the drivers communicate with each other to divide up tasks and assign routes in a way that maximizes efficiency and productivity. Fermin Guzman and William Scully are two such drivers. They not only operate their respective trucks, but the two of them also empty, clean, and organize the barrels at CERO’s pickup locations. Their daily schedules are constantly changing, so as soon as William and Fermin have their routes for the day, they get on the road and head off to their first stops. Josefina Luna, one of CERO’s original founders, is also out on the road early in the morning. Overseeing the day’s services, she is constantly driving around, checking in with clients, and ensuring that everything is running smoothly. Josefina brings an experienced and knowledgeable presence to the company’s site work.                                                        

         Meanwhile, at around 8:00 AM, team members such as Deb Gesualdi and Rhina Luna begin getting online, and evaluating what needs to get done. While Deb is in charge of sales, she leaves her mornings open to respond to any urgent matters that may come up. Similarly, Rhina, who is in charge of data collection, IT, and reporting, spends the first few hours of her day fielding calls, responding to emails, and correcting any IT issues that have popped up. Around this time is also when Jill Ferreira, the team’s Development Coordinator, logs on. Her first tasks typically involve coordinating with CERO’s interns and making sure that they are all set up with the tools they need for success.

Around midday is when the morning drivers finish up their duties, and the afternoon fleet is deployed. As Fermin and William are on their way back from their routes, drivers like Antonio Araujo are just getting their day’s work started. He typically gets going around 1:30 PM and stops off at locations that prefer to be serviced later on in the day. Much like William and Fermin, Antonio focuses on cleaning the barrels, collecting organic waste, and delivering it to local farms and composting facilities. Whatever specific duties are asked of our drivers, they are always up to the task. Some days involve picking up and delivering compost/soil to community gardens and urban farms.  On other days, they might need to deliver equipment to new customers, install locks on totes to keep critters out, or do a deep cleaning at a customer site. Antonio, Fermin, William, and the rest of the operations team leave no stone unturned and make sure that all assignments are completed before their day ends.

         As the afternoon arrives, meetings become the name of the game. The CERO team is constantly communicating both among themselves and with their partners in order to make important decisions justly and democratically. Team meetings take place every Tuesday, while larger board meetings occur once a month. Multiple small meetings happen every day between members and can center around any topic from working with a potential new client, to waste reports, to sales quotes. These meeting sessions often take place remotely, with everyone connecting from wherever they might be at that moment. Whether out on the road or in front of a computer, each team member makes sure that collaboration never stops!

         In between calls and meetings, Jill and Deb often perform customer site visits to meet with the folks running their businesses to see how things are going. Doing this not only helps build the personal relationships that CERO has with our partners, but also allows the team to assess how daily pick-ups are going, and see if any improvements can be made. Deb and Jill also attend schools and universities to educate students on the importance of composting, as well as conferences and events that pertain to waste management, environmental justice, or worker co-ops in general. These trips are invaluable to CERO, as they allow the team to gauge the impact the company is having on the community, and what more can be done to further benefit the environment. 

         While this is happening, Rhina is likely working on calculating and auditing essential data that pertains to the specifics of CERO’s daily services. She keeps track of figures such as how much food waste was picked up from a site on a specific day, and how much organic waste was dropped off at the most recent farm that was visited. These numbers are critical when it comes to creating reports for customers and generating invoices. Deb’s work in sales goes hand in hand with this, which means that they both are constantly in contact over pre-sales quotes and contacting potential new clients. Deb also manages CERO’s many accounts, which takes up a lot of her time. Communicating with current and future partners is a key part of her work, as is providing support for any business managers who may have questions.                             


         Once the evening is upon us, the team finally winds down for the day. Josefina returns from her excursions on the road and begins looking ahead to tomorrow. She and Fermin will often discuss how the day’s services went, what went well, and how the team can work to improve. Every day brings its own unique challenges, so the operations team is always on top of anything and everything that might need to happen the next time out. William returns from his route while Josefina makes sure that all the day’s pickup data has been collected, and records it into the system. Deb runs through her final checks and puts together a plan for the next day. Rhina reviews the driving routes and provides an outline for what the upcoming ones should look like. Jill ensures that all loose ends have been tied up and that everyone will be good to go when they start to work again. Once all tasks have been completed, each member calls it a day and retires for the night before gearing up to do it all again when the sun rises.      

         It takes a lot of coordination, labor, and critical thinking to keep CERO up and running, but our team is always up for the challenge. It is thanks to them that we can continue providing quick, easy, and clean composting for our partners. While there is no ‘normal’ day at CERO, the only constant is that no matter what challenges present themselves, our team is ready and willing to face them!