Garbage is a beautiful business
Aspen began as a service business, dedicated to “green” trash collection and disposal practices. The company was founded in 1990 in the Twin Cities and has become the independent hauler of choice in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Des Moines area and St. Louis metro areas. We’ve remained independent and we keep decision-making in local hands to serve you better. And we always find the most environment-friendly disposal methods available for whatever you don’t need anymore.
Our success is due to dedicated individuals who serve you daily. Each of us at Aspen is empowered to make decisions on the spot to improve service, keep your property clean, and protect our environment.
We have grown because we respect our jobs, our colleagues, your home and business, and our planet. Garbage, we’ve learned, can be a beautiful business.
Owner and CEO
Bob Kircher has been owner and CEO of Aspen Waste Systems since the company was founded in 1990. Bob’s background and business strategy are unique to the industry and have differentiated Aspen among its competitors. Today Aspen is one of the 50 largest waste haulers in the country and the independent hauler of choice in the cities it serves.
Prior to founding Aspen, Bob practiced law, both in private practice and as general counsel at Bluebird, Inc. of Chicago. In addition to his law practice, he has a wide array of experience and expertise in the areas of finance and real estate, was a naval officer, and worked as a campaign manager and aide to some of Minnesota’s most prominent political figures. Bob grew up in Northeast Minneapolis, working for his father who owned one of the preeminent meat markets of its time in downtown Minneapolis.
Bob received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.
Alexa Kircher Fang
Alexa Kircher Fang is President of Aspen Waste Systems. Alexa joined Aspen Waste Systems in 2015, serving as Vice President until 2022. Prior to Aspen, Alexa worked as an associate in the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb, a leading international law firm with offices in 16 major financial centers around the world. At Cleary, Alexa’s practice focused on complex commercial and securities litigation and regulatory investigations. Alexa received her Juris Doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. Prior to law school, Alexa attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, one of the country’s top music conservatories, and earned both Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Violin Performance.
Thor Nelson is Chief Financial Officer of Aspen Waste Systems. He is responsible for all financial functions of the company, as well as all real estate matters. Thor joined the company in 2009 and previously served as chief operating officer until 2022, overseeing Aspen’s expansion in Iowa and the development of major satellite facilities in the Twin Cities and St. Louis metro areas. Prior to joining Aspen, Thor was an executive at Allina Health, a large integrated healthcare system based in Minneapolis. Thor has a master’s degree from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College.
David Pfuhl is Chief Operating Officer of Aspen Waste Systems. He is responsible for all operating divisions of the company. David joined Aspen as Director of Sales in 2017 and served in that role until 2022. David was attracted to Aspen – and vice versa – because of a mutual commitment to providing superior customer service. David is a life-long resident of the Twin Cities who first learned the value of customer service on his Star Tribune paper route when he was 10 years old. After earning a business degree at Anoka Ramsey Community College, he honed his customer-first attitude and performance during thirty years in sales and management in the luxury automotive industry. In those positions he enjoyed the highest levels of manufacturer certification and customer satisfaction ratings. He is committed to sustaining that standard of performance and customer care at Aspen both personally and as a contributor to Aspen’s leadership team.
John Emmons is the General Manager of Aspen Waste Systems of Iowa, and is responsible for all of Aspen’s operations at its two Iowa facilities in Des Moines and Ames. John joined Aspen in 1997 as a driver in Minneapolis and then spent many years in supervisory positions before assuming his position as general manager of Iowa in 2023. As one of the most tenured members of the operations team at Aspen, John is widely respected by his colleagues for his knowledge of both the industry and Aspen’s standards of customer service.
Marni Franzeen is the General Manager of Aspen’s Service Center in Des Moines, IA, where many of Aspen’s administrative services are performed on behalf of the entire company, including billing, payment processing and data entry. Marni began her career at Aspen in 2012 as an administrative professional with duties that included dispatching, customer service and other general office responsibilities. She has progressively expanded her responsibilities during her time at Aspen and was promoted to her current position in 2019. Marni has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management from Iowa State University, where she was also captain and most valuable swimmer of the ISU swimming and diving team. Marni is a native of Winona, Minnesota, and a member of Winona High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Brad Hegwer is the General Manager of Aspen Waste Systems of Missouri and is a member of Aspen’s Executive Committee. Brad has extensive experience in the industry, having worked as a driver, mechanic and manager. Early in his career, he owned his own trash hauling company. After selling the company he founded, he held management positions in some of the largest companies in the industry, in several different markets. A native Missourian, Brad returned to his home state when he joined Aspen in 2017, where he is responsible for all of Aspen’s operations at its two facilities in the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Tom Heuer is Aspen Waste System’s Director of Business Development and General Manager of the Aspen Leasing Group. After eight years’ experience with other haulers in the Twin Cities, Tom joined Aspen in 1993 as sales manager. He assumed his current positions with the company in 2001, playing an integral role in the growth of Aspen’s commercial division.
Tom is a 1983 graduate of the University of St. Thomas. He has served on the board of directors of the Minnesota Shopping Center Association (MSCA), and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Greater Minneapolis. He was named the Friend of IREM Member of the Year in 2011 by the Minnesota Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Managers (IREM), Member of the Year by MSCA in 2014, and Service Partner of the Year by BOMA Minneapolis in 2016.
Derek Holmen is the Operations Manager for Aspen Waste Systems of Minnesota, Aspen’s largest operating division, and a member of Aspen’s Executive Committee. In these roles, he is responsible for the operations at Aspen’s three facilities in the Twin Cities metro area and one facility in Rochester, MN, and for ensuring company-wide compliance with Aspen’s operations and safety policies and procedures. Derek joined Aspen in 2019 with prior management experience in the waste industry, and several years of experience working in finance at IBM. Derek has a bachelor’s degree from Winona State University and is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Megan Mayer is the Controller for Aspen Waste Systems, Inc., and is responsible for the accounting operations for all of Aspen’s business units. Megan joined Aspen in 2012 as a senior accountant and has progressively expanded her responsibilities during her tenure. She was named Accounting Manager in 2020, and was promoted again in 2022 to the position of Controller. Prior to joining Aspen, Megan held accounting positions in Denver, Colorado, where she also earned a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Colorado Denver. Megan also has two bachelor’s degrees from St. Cloud State University.
Laura Pittner joined Aspen Waste Systems in 2021 as General Counsel and is also a member of Aspen’s Executive Committee. Prior to Aspen, Laura was a partner at a law firm in Minneapolis, where she worked in complex civil litigation for over 10 years. Prior to law school, Laura worked in marketing, as well as with several non-profit organizations. Laura received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and her law degree from Mitchell Hamline College of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She currently serves as a Board Member for Emma Norton Services, an organization providing transformational housing and growth services for women and families.
Stacey Sanders is the Office Operations Manager for Aspen Waste Systems of Minnesota, Aspen’s largest operating division, and a member of Aspen’s Executive Committee. In these roles, she is responsible for all customer service and office administrative functions in MN and for ensuring company-wide compliance with Aspen’s customer service policies and procedures. Stacey’s entire career has been in the waste industry, and she has progressively expanded her responsibilities since joining Aspen in 2011. A native of the Twin Cities and waste industry veteran, Stacey is recognized by both customers and colleagues for her work ethic, positivity, and high standards of performance.
Laura Whipple is Human Resources Manager and is responsible for all human resource functions across the company. Laura joined Aspen in 2018 as an HR generalist and was promoted to her current position in 2021. Prior to Aspen, Laura had 20 years of experience at Goodwill Industries in the human resources and human services divisions, garnering a broad range of experiences in her field. Laura has a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and an MBA from Drake University.
Jeff Wilhelmus is the Maintenance Manager for Aspen Waste Systems of Missouri and a member of Aspen’s Executive Committee. In these roles, he is responsible for managing Aspen’s two maintenance shops in the St. Louis metro area and for ensuring company-wide compliance with Aspen’s maintenance policies and procedures. Prior to joining Aspen, he spent more than twenty-seven years in management positions at some of the largest companies in the industry.