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'Undercover Boss' to feature East Chicago CEO
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'Undercover Boss' to feature East Chicago CEO

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Clean Harbors CEO Alan McKim donned a disguise for the CBS television show "Undercover Boss" to get an inside look at the operations of his company, which operates the Safety-Kleen re-refinery in East Chicago.

McKim dressed up as the pony-tailed, mustachioed working-class character "Bill Anderson" so he could work alongside the employees in East Chicago, as well as in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Texas. He filmed scenes in East Chicago, where he helped clean out a confined-space rail tank in a hazmat suit.

The one-hour episode will air on CBS at 8 p.m. Monday. 

“Participating in ‘Undercover Boss’ gave me the opportunity to revisit my roots and see the company from the front lines again,” McKim said. “I was able to engage directly with our employees, see firsthand what was happening inside the company and gain insights into our business from a unique perspective.”

McKim founded suburban Boston-based Clean Harbors in 1980. The publicly traded company bills itself as "the leading provider of environmental, energy and industrial services throughout North America" and also "North America’s largest re-refiner and recycler of used oil" through its Safety-Kleen subsidiary.

The Safety-Kleen re-refinery at 601 Riley Road in East Chicago's Indiana Harbor neighborhood, just east of the BP Whiting Refinery, can recycle more than 70 million gallons of used motor oil a year. It produces recycled oils used by state of Indiana vehicles, the Chicago Transit Authority, the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S military.

Clean Harbors generates more than $3 billion in revenue a year serving a majority of Fortune 500 companies in a number of industries, including chemical, energy and manufacturing. The company employs more than 15,000 workers across North America.

In the show, McKim poses as a former mechanic trying to switch to a new career later in life. He worked in multiple roles for the company, including as a Class A truck driver, a field service worker responding to a hurricane, a hazardous waste specialist, and an industrial technician doing confined space enclosure work at Clean Harbors' operations in East Chicago.

“It was rewarding to work alongside talented employees who do these challenging jobs every day,” McKim said. “The nature of our business requires difficult and potentially dangerous work, so I was proud to see our comprehensive safety training and protocols in action. Safety is our company’s number one core value. Our highest daily priority in handling North America’s hazardous waste and responding to releases into the environment is keeping our people, our customers and our nation’s communities safe.”

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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