Waste Connections' Eastern Region Engineering Manager Kurt Shaner is a handy guy. And we don’t just say that because he’s a member of both the Global Waste Management Symposium AND the Research Council of the Environmental Research and Education Foundation. As you’ll learn in our informal Q&A with the Memphis, Tenn.-based certified professional engineer, Shaner will happily design you a landfill, but he can also build you a koi pond or help you finish your basement. And you can pay him in dairy products.
Waste Age: What is your pet peeve?
Shaner: Waiting in lines. Time is the one resource we all get the same amount of and waiting in line is a waste of it.
Waste Age: What is your idea of the perfect day?
Shaner: My perfect day would start by sleeping in a little, doing any sort of outdoor activity and then a nice dinner out. The details of the activity and the dinner don’t matter. They just need to be with friends and family.
Waste Age: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Shaner: I am not sure if this is the best advice, but one memorable sound bite from my father was, “Never ask a question you may not want the answer to.” It seems to hold true most of the time.
Waste Age: What was the last book you read?
Shaner: “The Lion” by Nelson DeMille.
Waste Age: What is your favorite movie?
Shaner: I can’t really select a particular movie as a favorite because I enjoy lots of different movies. But I enjoy movies in the mystery/thriller genre more than others.
Waste Age: What is your favorite TV show?
Shaner: I don’t watch much TV. But when I do watch, it’s sports, the DIY Network or “How It’s Made.”
Waste Age: Beatles or Rolling Stones?
Waste Age: What is the strangest piece of trash you’ve ever come across?
Shaner: While drilling a gas well we found a newspaper from 1905. It is in good condition — very legible — and you can turn the pages. It is amazing to look at the prices in the advertisements!
Waste Age: Do you prefer the beach or mountains?
Shaner: Beach, but mountains are fun too.
Waste Age: What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
Shaner: Well, family is certainly the accurate answer. But cheese is the more anecdotal answer. Whether the food is American, Italian or Mexican, it all tastes better with cheese.
Waste Age: If you could invite three people — living or dead — to a dinner party, who would they be?
Shaner: Well certainly my wife, Naomi, would be first. All experiences are best when we can share them together, plus she remembers things so much better than I do. My second guest would be Thomas Jefferson. I want to know the intentions of the authors of the Constitution and how they would interpret today’s adaptations. And third would be my maternal grandfather. I was close with him until he passed just before my 16th birthday. I would like for us to know each other as adults.
Waste Age: If you weren’t serving in your current role, what would you like to be?
Shaner: I truly enjoy my job, but perhaps being quasi-retired would be fun, living lots of the “perfect” days described above.
Waste Age: What is your favorite sports team?
Shaner: The Pittsburgh Steelers.
Waste Age: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Shaner: I would like to be able to transport myself like in the Star Trek movies. That way, I could avoid all the lines at the airport and visit family that lives across the country in an instant.
Waste Age: What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
Shaner: In the Bahamas I went on a scuba dive where we fed sharks. It was a shallow reef dive (about 30 feet deep) with about 12 gray reef sharks, between four and six feet in length. They were close enough that I could feel their pectoral fins gliding through my hair.
Waste Age: What’s the one talent you have that not many people know about?
Shaner: I enjoy home improvement projects. I’ve built patios, sheds, koi ponds and finished basements.
If you have suggestions for future interviewees, send them along to [email protected]