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The Trash Man

Lee Corder, or better known to some in Falcon as Levi the Trash Man, has enjoyed 10 years in retirement. Before then, Corder owned and operated D&L Sanitation.Originally from Ramah, Colo., Corder worked a variety of jobs, from construction to an auto body shop to the oil fields. After a few years as a roughneck in the oil fields, Corder and his wife, Judy, said they decided roughnecking wasn’t the ideal job for raising a family. They moved back to Colorado and bought the home they live in today.Corder worked for the Colorado Springs Fire Department for several years before entering the sanitation field on a recommendation from a friend, who told Corder it was a good business.He first owned Colorado Springs Sanitation for a few years before buying D&L. In the deal, Corder got the permit and one truck. “It was a bad truck so I got a pickup and put sideboards on it,” he said.Judy Corder said the business started with five paying customers. Lee Corder said he never imagined it would grow like it did.”I figured me, my truck and 100 stops a day ought to do it,” he said. But he grew the business throughout the Falcon area, adding routes, trucks and employees. When he sold to Waste Management in 1999, D&L had 15 trucks and 5,000 stops.”Hardly anyone knew what a trash man was when I went out there. Nobody wanted to be out there,” Corder said. Eventually, competition sprang up and some of his customers would leave to save money, but many would return. “People would call back and say ‘they’re not picking my trash up,'” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much money you’re saving if they’re not collecting the trash.”Hauling trash in Falcon brought more complications than staying in the city. “It was always muddy,” Corder said. “The wind was always blowing and we got blamed for spreading trash, even if it was the wind, the birds or the dogs.”Because the waste collection service doesn’t own the trash it hauls, Corder said it was more of a transportation service – from the customers to the dump. “It was a shuttle bus service for rodents,” he said.Judy and Lee Corder worked as a team – she worked the books and he ran the men and the routes. Corder attributes his success to timing and offering good customer service, learning the names of his customers, their kids and their dogs.Judy Corder said her husband was a big part of the success of the business – more than he will admit. “When you have a business, you concentrate on it all the time,” she said. When he retired, it was time to enjoy life without focusing on a business.”The first thing we did when he retired was go to Disneyland for two weeks,” Judy Corder said. When her husband was running the business, he couldn’t get away for more than three days. She said it was wonderful to have that kind of freedom.Corder said he doesn’t miss running a business. “When the snow’s outside and I think of those trucks getting stuck and the headaches that went with it – I’m pretty happy … I’ve been leading a nice quiet life.”That quiet life hasn’t included much sitting around for the Corders. They’ve traveled extensively, visiting the British Isles, Sweden and Italy; made additions to their home, repainted and added wood floors. The latest home improvement project was a special nook for Judy’s harp.When he’s not working on his home, Corder said he likes to play with trains. He is building three different track systems of different sizes. Judy Corder said her husband proposed cutting a hole in the bedroom wall to run the track through the front room. She suggested he move the trains to a bigger location, which he did, and the tracks are slowly taking over his barn in Falcon.Corder also built a track system for the Rudy’s restaurant that used to be on Powers Boulevard. He said he even customized the trains by adding the Rudy’s logo. But, Corder maintains, trains are just a hobby for him. “This isn’t a business,” he said. “There’s no buying and selling, just buying.”

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