Despite all the technological advances with computerization, the Internet and the furor over Y2K, the refuse truck driver remains the backbone of the waste industry. On the road each day in multi-ton vehicles, these men and women negotiate heavy traffic congestion, rural roads, extreme weather conditions and, worst of all, other drivers. They deserve to be recognized for a job well-done under difficult circumstances, which is why 14 years ago the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA), Washington, D.C., initiated the Drivers of the Year program to honor the "best of the best."
For the 1999 competition, 123 drivers, including two women, were nominated by companies and municipalities across the country. These drivers have some or all of these achievements: accident-free performances, perfect attendance records, training duties, company awards, commendations from customers and even acts of heroism while on the job.
This year's seven grand prize winners have 170 years of combined refuse driving experience, an average of almost 25 years per person. L.C. Tyson of All Service Refuse Co., a subsidiary of Republic Services Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has more than 33 years, followed by Johnny Rushing, who has been a sanitation driver for the city of San Diego for the past 30 years. Stephen Carrington has contended with hot, humid summers in south Florida for 24 years as a swing driver for Waste Management of Broward County, serving as a backup for 17 drivers.
Most of the winning drivers also perform additional duties. Michael Hashem of E.L. Harvey & Sons, Westboro, Mass., has trained nearly all of the company's new employees for the past 10 years. He also won the company's truck rodeo. Lloyd Brothers Trucking, Wausau, Wis., calls on the expertise of Darrell Tesch, a former marine, to show new drivers the ropes.
And good drivers mean good business. A large apartment complex in the Cincinnati area received a lower contract quote from another company, but refused it in order to retain the excellent service provided by Harold Caskey of Rumpke Transportation Co., Cincinnati.
Waste Management Northwest, Bothell, Wash., employs two award-winning drivers with more than a profession in common. Colin Myron, a roll-off driver for 22 years, is this year's winner in the Large Company Industrial category. Colin's younger brother, Peter, won the award in 1998 in the same category.
The 1999 EIA Drivers of the Year , listed below in alphabetical order, were recognized at WasteExpo in Dallas on June 8, 1999. They are: Large Company Residential: Stephen Carrington, Waste Management Broward County, Pompano Beach, Fla.; Small Company Commercial: Harold L. Caskey, Rumpke Transportation Co., Cincinnati; Small Company Industrial: Michael D. Hashem, E.L. Harvey & Sons Inc., Westboro, Mass.; Large Company Industrial: Colin D. Myron, Waste Management Northwest, Bothell, Wash.; Public Sector: Johnny Rushing, City of San Diego; Small Company Residential: Darrell E. Tesch, Lloyd Brothers Trucking Co. Inc., Wausau, Wis.; Large Company Commercial: L.C. Tyson, All Service Refuse Co. Inc., a subsidiary of Republic Services Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Although each nominated driver qualified for top honors, just one driver in each of the seven Drivers of the Year awards categories could be selected. Entries were judged anonymously using a code number system that deleted all references to the person's name and employer. An independent, certified public accounting firm tabulated by computer the drivers' years of experience, driving conditions and safety records. From this, the score sheets of the 29 finalists were sent to members of the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Industry Association's (EIA) Joint Safety Advisory Committee for judging.
The names of the winning drivers in each category were not revealed until after the final points were awarded. The 123 semi-finalists received an "EIA Driver of the Year" duffel bag and a plaque. The 29 finalists, including the seven winners, received a duffel bag, plaque, belt buckle and hat. The seven grand prize winners also received recognition at WasteExpo and $500.
The awards program was sponsored by Bond Beebe, Advisors and Accountants, Bethesda, Md.; EIA Insurance Programs, Washington, D.C.; Waste Age, Atlanta; and Zurich American Insurance Group, New York.