Alan McKim, founder and CEO of Clean Harbors, went undercover on Undercover Boss to see what was going on behind the scenes at his multi-billion dollar company.
Clean Harbors is an environmental cleanup company that provides truck, rail, and ship transportation for waste materials. They are the leading provider of environmental, energy, and industrial services throughout North America.
After graduating from high school in Boston, McKim enrolled in a criminal justice program, but he dropped out after one semester. That’s when he began cleaning up oil spills; he worked as an employee for a small-business owner.
McKim was a 24-year-old father of two when he launched Clean Harbors.
Here’s what you should know about McKim:
1. He founded Clean Harbors in 1980
Clean Harbors is currently celebrating the 40th anniversary of the company. At the time of founding in 1980, Clean Harbors was a four-person tank-cleaning business. The work at the beginning involved cleaning up oil spills and helping to clean up the Boston Harbor.
“I started Clean Harbors in 1980,” McKim says on an Undercover Boss episode sneak peek. “There was a lot of oil spills in the ’70s and ’80s, particularly here in Boston. So, me and three other guys, we started cleaning up spills and doing everything we could, really, to survive.”
Soon after opening, in 1984, Clean Harbors assisted in avoiding an oil off the coast of Orleans. At that time, they were able to help by pumping more than 100,000 gallons of oil off a grounded tanker named Eldia.
In 1987, Clean Harbors went public, giving them access to more capital in order to grow the business. After the Sept. 11 attacks, 300 Clean Harbor employees were at the World Trade Center site to decontaminate workers at the end of their shifts.
2. He Was Honored as Northeastern University’s Distinguished Entrepreneur in 2019
When he started his business, McKim had no idea how to read a financial statement and needed some education before his company outgrew him. Because of this need, he developed a relationship with Northeastern professor Dan McCarthy, who became his mentor.
In 2019 as part of Northeastern University’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, McKim was honored as the recipient of the Distinguished Entrepreneur Award.
McKim is also vice-chair of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees and has become a namesake of the D’Amore McKim School of Business. The school was named after McKim and fellow entrepreneur Rich D’Amore donated $60 million to Northeastern in 2012.
3. He Went Undercover as “Bill Anderson” on Undercover Boss
Undercover Boss allows company leaders to go undercover, gaining unfiltered insight into their business. They often meet employees who are extra hard workers and who might need a little bit of extra help personally or professionally. For his episode, McKim dressed up as “Bill Anderson,” a former mechanic looking for a new career.
The episode promises to be extra emotional. In a Tweet, Clean Harbors references employee Gregg Maier’s part in the episode.
“The @Undercover_CBS reveals are always emotional, but you won’t want to miss seeing Gregg Maier return to ground zero for the first time since he and Clean Harbors crews helped decontaminate the area on 9/11 and years after. #UndercoverBoss.”
4. He Has an Honorary Doctorate
McKim has an honorary doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Massachusetts Maritime Academy is a public college in Buzzards Bay. They offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in maritime-related fields.
McKim has worked with over 100 Maritime Academy alumni throughout his career, and students often intern with the company.
“The desire to take on these challenges is what brought you to Mass. Maritime,” he told the students at the 2010 commencement, where he was a speaker. “From an outsider’s perspective, there is no better institution.”
Prior to receiving the honorary doctorate, McKim studied in Northeastern University’s Executive MBA program. He joined the Northeastern Corporation in 1989 and was elected trustee in 2010.
5. He Made $4.9 Million in 2018
According to salary.com, Alan McKim brought home $4,946,873 total for the fiscal year ending in 2018. Since he works as both the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer at Clean Harbors Inc., he brought home both a salary and a bonus.
His salary in 2018 was $1,265,000, and he brought home $3,000,000 as a bonus. According to proxy statements filed for the fiscal year, he also received $673,599 as stock and $8,274 in other types of compensation.
Since the company is publicly traded, the information is available at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website. The annual proxy statement is filed within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year and is sent to all shareholders.