After graduating from the University of Texas at Tyler with a bachelor’s degree in management in 2008, Cody Humphrey sought an industry and company that he could grow with. Humphrey found that with Republic Services, a company that he has flourished with for the past nine years, moving up the ranks to his current position of operations manager.
In that role, he helps lead safety, employee engagement and customer service efforts. Overall, Humphrey has held six different positions with Republic since joining the company. In the process, he’s traveled the country and gained experience in all aspects of the industry.
“Cody has been an instrumental employee of Republic Services by traveling around the country implementing new IT programs, teaching many individuals new services and serving as an instructor for the company’s leadership fundamental classes,” says Bill Voigtman, general manager at Republic Services and Humphrey’s direct manager. “Cody’s talent is mentoring, and even though he has only been in the industry for nine years, he has an enormous amount of industry knowledge, and he is always willing to teach and mentor those who want to learn or do more with the company.”
Waste360 recently named Humphrey to the Waste360 40 Under 40 list for his contributions to the waste and recycling industry. We spoke with him about his responsibilities as operations manager, where he hopes to be in his career in five years and his role as an instructor for Republic’s leadership fundamental classes.
Waste360: Tell us about how you got your start in the waste and recycling industry.
Cody Humphrey: I started my career in the industry with Republic’s management training program, which is now known as the company’s leadership trainee program. In that program, I was in a post-collection and collections rotation, and I got to learn all of the different facets of the business for about two years.
From there, I worked in the revenue management department, and then I was a routing analyst in the Houston market for about a year. After that, I did some training on Republic’s business and processing systems, where I got to travel around and meet some of the great people who work for people.
I then relocated to Arizona, where I worked for the revenue management team again, and prior to my current position I came back to Houston as an operations manager.
In this current role, I oversee about 30 collection routes and a landfill, which allows me to work hand-in-hand with frontline leaders, drivers, helpers, operators and mechanics who make this company so great.
I have been with Republic for about nine years now, and I have enjoyed every moment. Without my supportive, loving wife Kathryn, as well as many incredible mentors I wouldn’t have gotten the experiences I have gotten, and I likely wouldn’t be in the position I am today.
Waste360: What are some of your responsibilities as an operations manager?
Cody Humphrey: I spend half of my week at the landfill and half of my week at the hauling company, ensuring that every employee has what they need to be successful and safe. Safety is our number one priority, and to be the safest that we can be, we need to make sure that our employees are engaged and understand the reasons why we have the rules that we have.
In addition to that, I work closely with my supervisors and attend one-on-one-meetings with them to go over different metrics of the business to figure out where and how we can make improvements. As a company, we utilize a Net Promotor Score and aim to have every customer say they would recommend Republic to a friend or family member. Customer service is important to us, and we strive to be better every day.
At our division, we provide employees with a quote-inscribed coin to remind them to stay focused. The quote “Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way” by Booker T. Washington is a great fit for the workers in this industry because the little things determine if we are going to succeed or fail.
We also reward employees who do a common thing in an uncommon way with a poker chip that can be redeemed at our safety meetings. At the safety meetings, they can turn in the poker chip for a chance to spin the wheel to win prizes. Ultimately, it’s not about the prize; it’s about being rewarded for your positive actions.
Waste360: How have you helped implement new IT programs around the country?
Cody Humphrey: I was part of a team that helped develop a revenue management tool that allows employees to configure product offerings in real time, ultimately creating quotes for customers based on their location and specific waste removal and recycling needs.
This was a very exciting opportunity for me because I got to experience what sales goes through every day, as they seek to understand our customers needs while working on a tool used to facilitate these transactions nation-wide.
Waste360: Tell us about your role as an instructor for Republic’s leadership fundamental classes.
Cody Humphrey: For quite some time now, Republic has had a program in place based on the company’s main billing and operational system. The program, which is through the Effectiveness Institute, allows participants to go back to their respected divisions to help out with training and empower fellow employees who may need some additional training beyond Republic’s onboarding program.
All of Republic’s employees have different backgrounds, and this program gives them a chance to expand and improve their knowledge of the industry, making them both confident and happy. Being a part of this program has allowed me to see the different types of behavioral styles, which has helped me be the best mentor I can possibly be.
Waste360: What are some of Republic’s goals for this year and how are you helping the company reach those goals?
Cody Humphrey: Locally, we are working on a commercial driver license (CDL) mentor program, which pairs some of our 10-year drivers with helpers who are interested in obtaining their CDL. With the program, the 10-year drivers assist the helpers in preparing for their test to obtain their CDL. This program gives the helpers something else to look forward to in their career, which is a nice change of pace from working long hours in the heat.
Waste360: Where do you hope to be in your career in five years?
Cody Humphrey: I have been learning so much from my supervisors over the past nine years, and they have taught me what it means to take care of your people and be a good leader. In five years, I would really like to have a team of my own because having my own team would give me more opportunities to help others meet their individual goals.
Waste360: As a mentor at Republic, what advice do you have for young professionals looking to have a career in this industry?
Cody Humphrey: When I was looking for a company to begin my career, my uncle gave me the advice to find an industry and a company where I could grow as the industry and company grows. I found that with Republic, and I believe that the younger generation can find that within the waste and recycling industry as well.
In this industry, you can learn from the dedicated people who have been working in the field for many years. They will tell you about how to work in rain, sleet, snow and sunshine, and they will provide you with the proper knowledge you need to do your job correctly and safely. They will also answer your questions and lend you a helping hand when you need it, which is something you don’t find in every industry. As the industry continues to change with new technologies, equipment, etc. the need for hardworking people with great character will always remain, so it is up to us to take care of those team members and make sure these important characteristics are passed on.