Honoring the Legends

EACH YEAR AT WASTE EXPO, the Washingtonbased Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) inducts long-time leaders into the industry's Hall of Fame. These individuals have been actively engaged in the business for at least 25 years and have made significant contributions to the industry. Their innovations are in manufacturing and equipment/product design; marketing and business operations; employee and community relations; operations safety; industry standards development; environmental protection; legislative and regulatory processes; and participation in the Washington-based National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) and EIA. Inductees not only contribute innovative business ideas, but they also are leaders in their communities.

This year, five industry leaders will be inducted during WasteExpo, including Larry Stone, senior account executive for Heil Environmental, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Tom Van Weelden, former CEO of Allied Waste Industries Inc., Scottsdale, Ariz.; Louis Wagner, CEO of Earthwatch Waste Systems Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.; Chris Weiser, president/CEO of CRAM-A-LOT/J.V. Manufacturing Inc., Springdale, Ark.; and Gene Wingerter, president of Wingerter and Associates, Bethesda, Md.

The induction ceremony at WasteExpo will take place as part of the Inspirational and Awards Breakfast at 7:45 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Recognizing individual distinction and achievement is as basic as motherhood and apple pie. The EIA Hall of Fame began in 1986 in New Orleans when 32 industry giants were honored. Many of these leaders have retired or passed away, yet they all left indelible marks on the industry. Today, there are 126 leaders in the Hall of Fame, not including the 2005 inductees. Multiplied by the minimum of 25 years of industry service required to be eligible for induction, there are at least 3,150 years of collective experience in picking up and putting down trash in the Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame list tells the industry's past and future. The surnames of recipients reflect a rich ethnic background, including Italian, Dutch, Armenian, English, Scottish and Irish, just to name a few. The waste industry offered the waves of immigrants a ticket to a better life in America by doing what others, until the past few decades, looked down upon — protecting public health and the environment through professional waste management.

There is still plenty of room to grow in the Hall of Fame. To date, only one woman and three African-Americans have been inducted. While the industry is insular in some ways, it also is changing with society regarding ownership and management of companies. The industry is diverse with talent from people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. The challenge and the expectation of the future will be to recognize the achievements of this changed industry.

In addition to attending the awards ceremony at WasteExpo, please stop by the Environmental Industry Associations Hall of Fame wall where all inductees are displayed. Read the names, look at the faces and think about the industry's rich past and its promise for the future. Please also stop by the EIA booth to talk to the staff about current and future industry issues and trends.

Bruce Parker is the EIA's president and CEO. Contact the author by e-mail: [email protected]. Phone: (800) 424-2869.