When the call went out that we were looking for tributes in the wake of Bruce Parker's retirement from the Environmental Industries Association, we were unprepared for the overwhelming response. After 30 years with the organization, 16 as its president, Parker's influence on the industry has truly been profound. Over the next several pages, you will get a taste of the esteem in which his peers hold him.
We prompted contributors with four questions:
- What has Bruce meant to the waste industry, and to the Environmental Industry Associations?
- What were his biggest accomplishments?
- What were his biggest challenges?
- Provide if you can a personal anecdote that characterizes Bruce.
Some adhered to this format, while others offered more informal comments. All are presented here for your enjoyment.
Advanced Disposal Services Inc.
Chairman and CEO
What he's meant: As the highly successful CEO of the industry's lead organization for many years, Bruce was responsible for the incredible successes experienced by both the industry and EIA. His calm, thoughtful, consistent leadership kept the organization on course through some very difficult and challenging times.
Accomplishments: Bruce led EIA through the divestiture of WasteExpo and re-prioritization of the organization's focus on industry advocacy at the state and federal level.
Challenges: Effectively managing the different and sometimes conflicting opinions/objectives of the various members of EIA, both large and small.
Victor "Skip" Berg
Labrie Enviroquip Group
National sales manager
I have had the pleasure of knowing Bruce since the start of his long tenure with NSWMA (National Solid Wastes Management Association) and EIA. His early years as general counsel required visits to New Jersey to handle some of the unique situations that arose there. We always got along fine and have plenty of fond memories of those times and characters.
Later, when he ascended to the lofty perch, I was honored to serve on the EIA board of trustees. There, I learned the value of advance work. I do not think Bruce ever called a vote for which he did not correctly predict the outcome. He makes Gallup look like an amateur.
Bruce provided a steady hand on the tiller, steering through some heavy seas at times, but always with the goal of a safe passage. I would say he leaves the helm having done his duty with humor and grace. Bon chance, mon capitane.
Environmental Industry Associations
What he's meant: Bruce Parker has been an exceptional leader in the solid waste industry for three decades, and leaves very big shoes to fill. I started with EIA in March 1997, just a few months after Bruce became CEO, and was fortunate to have worked in the office next door to him for virtually his entire tenure as EIA president/CEO. Bruce has been a terrific mentor to me personally, and epitomizes the "member first" culture that he has helped established at the associations.
Accomplishments: Bruce's legacy is a strong, vital organization that provides an ever-increasing variety of benefits to members. Over the past 15 years, the waste Bruce has been a terrific mentor to me personally, and epitomizes the "member first" culture that he has helped established at the associations. The industry has experienced several waves of consolidation, which drained dues dollars from EIA's annual budget. Bruce presided over the sale of WasteExpo and Waste Age, which triggered a significant reduction in EIA's employees, but provided the basis for the strong partnership we have today with Penton (Media). He provided resources and encouragement for EIA's well-regarded safety program, and presided over the creation of the EIA Women's Council and Future Industry Leadership Alliance (FILA).
At the staff goodbye party held for Bruce in late May, Bruce told us he was not worthy of all the accolades and attention he was receiving in connection with his retirement. His successful leadership at the EIA is exceeded only by his modesty. A lot of tears were shed at the party, and for good reason. His daily presence in the office, and in the industry, will be missed.
Choice Environmental Services
Vice president – business development
My relationship with Bruce is unlike anyone else's in our industry, having worked closely with Bruce in several capacities. I joined the NSWMA board of governors the same year (1981) that Bruce became general counsel. I also had the privilege of working with Bruce as a fellow association senior staff member for almost three years. In addition, I was Bruce's first chairman of the EIA board of trustees. In fact, my first official act as EIA chairman was to terminate Bruce's predecessor and name Bruce as acting CEO.
Challenges: Bruce took over an association that in many respects had lost its way. All segments of the association membership were unhappy with the association direction; staff was demoralized; industry consolidation had decimated the dues structure. EIA was relying more and more on Waste Age and WasteExpo to meet ever increasing budgets at a time when both vehicles were under ever increasing competition from new publications and trade shows.
Accomplishments: Bruce actively took the pulse and took to heart the thoughts of the EIA leadership and "elders" as to where the industry was headed and therefore the direction the EIA needed to go – and then mapped out a course to take us in the right direction. Bruce with his pragmatism and unflappable sense of humor built on the respect and goodwill he earned as general counsel to rebuild confidence and morale within the EIA membership and staff. He put the EIA on a solid financial footing through the sale of Waste Age and WasteExpo.
What's he's meant: In addition to what I stated above, Bruce took EIA into the 21st century. His industry legacy is that he helped our industry have a clear understanding of where we have come from, where we are today and where we need to go in the future.
Anecdote: Bruce and I grew up in the northeast part of Pennsylvania. He never forgot where he came from and the lessons learned growing up in "coal country." He could always get me laughing when we would swap stories about our misguided youth. He also had the uncanny ability to send the funniest emails when I needed a laugh.
The Curroto Can Inc.
Bruce Parker has been a friend to me and the waste industry for as long as I can remember. So much has changed in the last two decades, while Bruce has kept a steady hand on the helm. Thank you, Bruce!
I am particularly appreciative of the way that Bruce Parker has reached out to West Coast-based manufacturers and service providers. Bruce's inclusive attitude has helped Curotto Can make the transition from a local to a national supplier to the industry.
Virginia Waste Industries Association
In 1996 when Bruce took over as president and CEO of EIA he brought with him the talent to create unity and cohesiveness among his business associates as well as everyone at EIA. Some of his biggest accomplishments were to lead our industry through many government regulations and company acquisitions that had a direct effect on our member companies on a daily basis. EIA grew not only in numbers but strength.
I feel that some of Bruce's biggest challenges were to continue to guide us through all the changes that we face today as well as grow the membership and at the same time to enhance our image and what we do as an industry in the public's eye, which he has done in creating a new position for public relations.
On a personal note: Virginia Waste Industries Association has an annual event in Williamsburg every year and we just held our 12th event this past May. You could always count on Bruce to join us and give what I like to call his "State of the Union" message. Our members loved having Bruce join us, and we all will miss him.
Big Truck Rental LLC
What he's meant: Bruce has brought a true professional feel to the industry.
Accomplishments: The success he has had in developing a true spirit of cooperation between all member companies regardless of size or stature.
Challenges: Battling flow control and developing the "Environmentalists. Every Day" campaign.
Anecdote: Bruce always remembers a face but he sure can butcher your name.
J. V. Manufacturing Inc.
Director of engineering
As a member of the WASTEC (Waste Equipment Technology Association) side of EIA, the accomplishment that comes to mind is UNITY, which was also one of his greatest challenges. In my opinion, the great unity we experience today has always been in the organization.
Bruce always looked for the best in people. Bruce has a unique ability to level the playing field to bring together competitive manufacturers, big companies and small companies, WASTEC members and NSWMA members, to create standards, establish or change governmental policies or regulations, public opinion, to improve the industry. Through this unity, the industry is more highly respected than ever before. Today we see great support for the "green" movement. Twenty-five years ago when I first got involved in the waste industry, the term was "garbage," and today it is "environmental." Bruce, through EIA, led that change.
Bruce surrounded himself with good people, and it was never about Bruce, but about others and the industry. He believed it and lived it. What great character and integrity! What more can be said? It has been said if you want to become great, spend time with great people. Bruce is one of those great people.
Environmental Industry Associations
Chairman, board of trustees (retired)
When asked to characterize Bruce Parker and his impact in EIA, I immediately recall our six years on the board of directors of EIA together. For four of those I served as chairman, sharing leadership roles for the growth and development of EIA, NSWMA, WASTEC, and in the beginning, EREF (Environmental Research & Education Foundation). During those years I got to know Bruce for the classy gentleman that he is. Bruce is a unique combination of elegant and casual, of sophistication and simplicity, of serious concern and devilish humor. Bruce can tell you anything you want to know in the solid waste industry from collection to permitting. His industry knowledge, business finesse, and social skills have made him the perfect leader of EIA. He is savvy, engaging and has great timing. These are talents that many possess only a few, but not all, as Bruce does.
I should also mention his passion for the industry. Many people are passionate about what they do, but Bruce is a guy that adds to that passion a genuine caring for the people. It has a lways been important to Bruce to get to know the industry people, and their success stories. Anyone who has spent time with Bruce will tell you that they walked away feeling like they are a very important part of the industry. They believe it because Bruce believes it too!
I am blessed to count Bruce as a dear friend, and Ellen and I look forward to sharing some quality retirement time together with Betty and Bruce.
Waste Technology Corp.
Former chairman, president, CEO
What he's meant: Recognizing that all of the trustees were all CEO types in their own right, Bruce had that special talent to bring them all together in a cohesive unit for the betterment of all facets of our industry. His impish sense of humor relieved the seriousness of the moment and on many occasions helped meetings gone astray back to a positive path.
Accomplishments: Being a part of the planning to sell [WasteExpo] and downsizing the organization, which allowed the organization to be repostured more so to serve the memberships needs.
Anecdote: Empathy, friendship.
I cannot think of a specific antidote, but would relate that he was the pillar of support for Bobbie during her daughter's illness, always sending her wonderful e-mail messages that were uplifting and meaningful, and expressed some beautiful thoughts upon her death. Additionally, he has been a special friend to me and helpful in many ways. We were fortunate to have someone with smarts, people skills and true caring for others.
IMN Solutions Inc.
Vice president, association services
What he's meant: I personally think his ability to analyze issues and build consensus with the major waste companies while at the same time protecting the overall interest of the regional and local haulers.
Accomplishments: I will have to defer to current waste professionals.
Challenges: From my time in the industry, making companies realize that being self-serving on major issues could damage their growth opportunities and profitability in future years.
Anecdote: I thought it was Bruce going to the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington to mull over legal papers and smoke a cigar. Or he said "mauling over" legal papers.
Environmental Industry Associations
Director, member services
Anecdote: Most people have heard the saying, "Hire for attitude, not aptitude." At my job interview with Bruce eight years ago, I learned this firsthand. Bruce, Gary Satterfield and Cathy Maimon were interviewing me. They had been looking for a director of member services without much luck. The interview started with typical questions about my background and ski l ls, but before I knew it, we were discussing movies and singing tunes from the '60s! Poor Gary tried to keep us on task by asking about my previous experience at another trade association, but I could tell that I was going to fit in with this group and enjoy working with them. Over the years we burst into song more times than I can guess and I loved it every time! I will miss Bruce and his ballads.
Environmental Industry Associations
Director of finance
Bruce Parker is a warm and caring individual. He cares, and is curious about everyone he meets. Bruce knows the names of the entire staff working for the building. He also knows about their lives, families and dreams. To show how much he lives this, on the Saturday of Bruce's final week with EIA he attended the funeral of the building manager's father.
The building staff also cares about Bruce. During his final week, the building engineer and his assistants came to the office honor Bruce. The evening cleaning crew also enjoyed attention from Bruce. He was always trying out new Spanish phrases on them and generally doing what he could to add human contact to their day. Several members of that crew stopped by during his past week to wish him well.
All of us who know Bruce also want wish him well. He will not be forgotten.
National Solid Wastes Management Association
Manager, Midwest Region
Environmental Industry Associations Women's Council Manager
What he's meant: It will be no surprise to anyone reading this that Bruce Parker loves this industry and loves EIA/NSWMA/WASTEC, but more importantly, he truly loves the people who have worked for him, the people who he has worked for and for the members who he has represented. His passion and institutional knowledge of this amazing industry has served us well. His charm, giggle and approachability are disarming.
Accomplishments: My father, a great man, gave me the best advice. He called it the "65 Rule." He said when you are struggling with a problem, take a look at it from retirement. If you can look back at the problem at the age of 65, and ask yourself, "Did you do it right?" You will get your answer. I am sure Bruce can look back and say he did it right!
Challenges: I have been an employee of EIA/NSWMA for 18 years, most of which has been under Bruce's leadership. The challenges faced by our industry became challenges for Bruce and NSWMA. During this period, NSWMA was re-organized to better serve the membership. Along with the re-organization came changes to our technology. The days of making photocopies, stuffing envelopes, applying labels and stamps moved to broadcast faxes and ultimately e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. Bruce's VCR (videocassette recorder) is still flashing 12:00! Conceptually, he gets it; technical know-how… not so much.
Anecdote: Bruce can find a common denominator with anyone. Bruce found one with me. We both share a love of the movies and always confer as to what each other has seen and our Oscar picks for the year. I also had the distinct pleasure of teaching Bruce how to work a golf cart. I smile at the memory. But my fondest memory was the time we were at a member function where Bruce was called upon for karaoke…. and chose me as his partner for a Rolling Stones song. Bruce stole the show as Mick. But Bruce will always be BRUUUUUCE: The original BOSS.
Environmental Industry Associations
Bruce was the perfect person to work for: He expected your best performance, never micro-managed and made sure you had fun fulfilling your responsibilities. That is a hard balance to maintain in an office but his personality ensured this type of environment. He had a close, personal relationship with his staff that extended beyond the office and was the first to inquire if he could help out with any problem. In short, it has been a pleasure and privilege to work with Bruce these quick 12 years.
My longtime friend and mentor, Bruce J. Parker, was just inducted into the EIA Hall of Fame, class of 2012. Consistent with his central role in developing our industry over the last 30 years, I note that Bruce oversaw the development of the EIA Hall of Fame, and has been a participant in each and every induction to date. For longer than most have been in the industry, Mr. Parker has served as the face and voice of the non-governmental solid waste industry.
EIA has grown to represent all aspects of the commercial waste services industry, including recycling, composting, diversion, conversion and disposal through NSWMA and WASTEC. Numerous waste-related councils and institutes are organized within EIA as well, notably the Women's Council and the Future Industry Leaders Association, both developed in recent years under Bruce's leadership. In this same time period WASTEC became the Secretariat of the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Z245 standards series, and has provided invaluable safety and compatibility standards to the industry over the years.
Bruce is one of the leading experts in legal matters associated with the industry. He served as EIA general counsel and executive vice president for federal and external affairs. He participated in several landmark U. S. Supreme Court cases involving attempts by state and local governments to prevent or restrict the movement of solid waste in interstate commerce.
I believe Bruce's most industry impactful legacy is EREF. Bruce helped create it in the early ‘90s, and develop it into a independent 501(c) (3) organization. EREF is the only private, grant making institution with a national and international scope whose sole mission is to support solid waste research and education initiatives. EREF has sponsored more than $10 million in research and funded nearly 50 master's, doctoral and postgraduate scholars. EREF's efforts through research and education have allowed science and regulatory policy to enjoy a desperately needed closer relationship in our industry.
Civil & Environmental Consultants Inc.
I have had the pleasure of working with Bruce Parker for 20 years through my involvement with NSWMA and EIA. Bruce took over the association at a very difficult time, both financially and organizationally. Through all of these challenges, Bruce has provided steady guidance and direction and enabled NSWMA/EIA to advance the solid waste industry in an effective manner. Faced with the challenges of Subtitle D, interstate waste restrictions and flow control and the evolution of recycling and other alternative waste management technologies, Bruce responded with strong leadership. Bruce always took the time and made the effort to understand the impact of policy and legislation on the day-to-day operations of managing solid waste.
Most importantly, Bruce performed his duties and represented the industry with honor and integrity. While we are all excited about the future of the solid waste industry and the association, Bruce's leadership and insight will be very much missed. I am glad I have had the opportunity to interact with Bruce both as a colleague and a friend.
Environmental Industry Associations
Director of communications & public affairs
During the years that I worked with Bruce Parker at EIA, I helped arrange a number of opportunities for Bruce to speak with reporters and address community groups. I thought that I would share a little information about those experiences, since few other individuals have had the opportunity to see him in this sort of situation.
First, despite the fact that Bruce was incredibly well read and knowledgeable about facts about the solid waste industry, he took great pains to prepare for even the shortest interview with a reporter. And in advance of a presentation or a media desk-side briefing, he would burn the midnight oil for days, working on his presentation and memorizing the latest data and statistics.
Second, no matter how stressed Bruce might have been before addressing a large group or national reporter, that stress always seemed to evaporate as soon as the presentation or interview started. Bruce's natural charm and joy of life always seemed to take over, even when speaking to the highest profile media (inherently stressful situations that lead most people to be curt and dry and seem scripted or rehearsed). Bruce on the other hand came into these situations cracking jokes and making small talk with the reporters. On a number of occasions, interviews that were supposed to last 15 or 20 minutes ended up going on for more than an hour, because the reporter was having a good time just talking to Bruce. The tension that is a natural part of such interactions always disappeared. The adversarial nature of such experiences was replaced with a friendly discussion. Bruce ended these sessions more as a friend, not just a presenter or interview subject.
As a communications professional, I learned that while proper preparation is key, an interview subject can help set the tone for an exchange. This is one of the many things that Bruce taught me. It was fun watching Bruce in these instances. It's one reason that I will miss working with him, but I know that it will be useful to me going forward in my career.
National Solid Wastes Management Association
Director, state programs
Bruce replaced a CEO who did not turn out to be a good fit with this industry. He worked hard to restore confidence in NSWMA and our ability to deliver value to our members. His patience, sense of humor and industry knowledge were indispensible. He negotiated the sale of NSWMA's publications and trade show, resulting in a new ownership that has increased the value of both while also maintaining a close tie to NSWMA and its members. The image campaign with the updating of our web site and the heightened impact of the many positive contributions of this industry to a clean and healthy America are also key contributions.
Republic Services Inc.
What he's meant: Bruce has been a mentor of mine, late in my career. He was always accessible. Never did I have a problem getting a hold of him and getting pointed in the right direction.
On the top of that, over the years we became friends. As we became closer we talked about other things. I consider Bruce a close friend of mine today. I think that speaks to how Bruce had developed EIA. It was always business, but it became more than business.
When people were down and out, he scraped up help for them. He was there for people when it was kind of unrelated.
Accomplishments: Putting EIA in good financial stead. They sold the show to keep the organization intact. It was a big deal. Reserves are up around $18 million now.
The association has huge national companies. He always had a way of making you feel just as important as anyone else. Always made you feel a part of it, whether you were an independent, mid-tier, public or private company.
He twisted my arm to get involved, and it was a good thing. I feel much better about myself for having participated. I thought I understood it, but I didn't understand it as well until I got involved.
Anecdotes: With the association's dues structure Republic probably was a notch below where we were supposed to be. I said "Bruce, unless I see more of you and more value out of the national organization…" He replied, "You're cheap." He kept on me, on me, on me. Finally I said, "OK, you can take me to where I'm supposed to be. Just don't bug me anymore. The check's in the mail!"
[Another time] we were on a flight together and it was our first chance to really talk. We reminisced about how the organization was built, and got into who we were personally. I understood him better as a result.
I like good, honest, hard-working people, and that's who he was. Told it like it is. That's the kind of people I want to be around.
Waste Industries USA Inc.
What he's meant: Bruce has been a steady force and voice for our industry and association. Over time he developed a perspective that helped us deal with challenges while strengthening our core values.
Accomplishments: During Bruce's tenure the industry went through a number of phases to include consolidations, heavy regulations, recycling trends and a national focus on environmental stewardship. By listening to the industry leadership and working with the various arms of the association Bruce would tackle a number of initiatives but would always make safety and our public image a priority. Today we are a safer industry, and our "Environmentalists. Every Day." message has lifted us into the public spotlight in a very positive way.
Challenges: The CEO of an organization that represents many facets of a dynamic industry can get distracted, but Bruce was able to stay focused on key areas such as member services and regulatory pressures while providing sound day-to-day leadership.
Anecdote: As I watched Bruce through the years I could get glimpses of his prior persona. Wild ties and wild socks were just a couple of things that tipped me off that Bruce may have been a "free spirit" at some point in his youth. But that is a good thing because Bruce's diverse background and personal bent gave us a more colorful flavor that may have helped him represent us all a little better.
Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC)
Vice president (retired)
I've only known Bruce for about 12 years, but having worked in the association management community for more than 30 years, I can truly say that he is one of the finest association executives that I have the pleasure to work with. It is unusual to find someone that is held in such high esteem by his staff, his peers in the association management community and his industry. To me, Bruce was a great boss to work for, a mentor where every day was a learning experience and a good friend with an encouraging word, a silly story or some just down-to-earth conversation.
Few people realize that Bruce is a workaholic, working late most evenings and many Saturdays, and using his "free time" on Sundays to catch up on reading, both work-related material and other more cerebral and fun things. I'm not sure if Bruce is truly ready for retirement. He has so much to offer, not only to the solid waste and recycling industry but to any organization. It will be interesting to see what he does. You can bet on one thing: He won't be sitting home doing nothing.
I look back on what I know about Bruce from when he took over as the EIA president and CEO and what I've observed in my time working with him, and I see many significant accomplishments. Probably the most difficult and perhaps the most significant was the reorganization of NSWMA into what is now EIA. This was not just a simple name change; it was a major reorganization and culture change. It involved the sale of the association's magazines and trade show, a huge downsizing of the staff and the building of an ongoing relationship with the new owner of Waste Age and WasteExpo, a relationship that endures strong today more than 13 years later.
Anyone who knows Bruce knows that he is not shy; maybe unabashed would be a better way of describing him. He has no problem walking up to someone he doesn't know, from the lowest street person to the titans of industry, and having a meaningful conversation. I think this says a lot about his character in that he never regarded himself above others nor took himself so seriously that he could not see things through others' eyes.
One of the things that amazes me about Bruce is his ability to retain a vast amount of knowledge, process it and use it as the situation presents itself. I was never surprised when Bruce would say something like, "When we were talking four months ago, you said…" And you know, whatever the fact was, be it significant or trivial, Bruce wasn't going to forget it. I quickly learned, be careful what you say, even in the most casual conversation, because it could come back to haunt you.
As the CEO of the trade association representing the privatesector solid waste industry, Bruce was a passionate advocate and highly effective spokesperson. You'd never know that Bruce was anxious about an interview. He had a way of "disarming" the interviewer, and by the end of the interview they'd be as casual and joking like old friends. I dare to say that what could have been a hostile article ended up in a much more favorable light because of how Bruce dealt with people.
From a personal point of view, I enjoyed the freedom that I had as the executive vice president of WASTEC. Even though it was a subsidiary association of EIA, Bruce did not involve himself in the operation of the association, even though on more than one occasion he said that he really liked interacting with the equipment manufacturers. I enjoyed the time I spent "educating" him on various equipment technologies, knowledge he used in his discussions with his hauler members.
Bruce's retirement is the industry's loss, but I'm sure that the board of trustees also view it as an opportunity to open a new chapter in the history of the association. I'll always cherish the time I spent with Bruce at EIA and the opportunities and challenges that he presented to me to help the associations grow.
PTR Baler and Compactor Co.
Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC)
Chairman, board of governors
What he's meant: The industry and the EIA, through Bruce's leadership, has been able to constantly evolve to all the changes taking place in the areas of renewable fuels, shifts in recycling/ composting needs and many other new practices. He has a great ability to learn as well as an open mind, which fosters new ideas to allow the association to grow.
Accomplishments: He brought the association to a national stage because of his ability to communicate and educate us to think about not only what was going to change in the next six months but in the years to come and beyond.
Challenges: His biggest challenges were to get us to row in the same direction, since many of us compete against each other and do not see eye-to-eye on all issues. He could bridge the gap between those differences and have us understand that it was for the good of the industry that we needed to come together. The professionalism of this industry is a direct reflection on Bruce.
Anecdote: He has a great sense of humor that makes people feel immediately at ease. I will miss that humor as well as that wry smile that could always get a smile back!
Marathon Equipment Co.
What he's meant: Bruce has a unique ability to make a member feel as though their participation is paramount to the success of the entire association. He makes those that choose to accept the challenges of volunteering and are willing to expose themselves to some of the most brilliant minds in any industry feel like they are they central contributors to the advancement of not only the association but also the industry. This feeling of appreciation is so rare in most volunteer work but especially in an industry as competitive as the garbage industry.
Accomplishments: His biggest accomplishments are probably more in the future than the past or even today, as he has integrated so many young minds and leaders with the desire to excel in leading the association into the challenging future. Whenever you have the youth of an industry believing they can make a difference, then that group will rise to previously unknown heights.
Challenges: When Bruce took over leadership of the association, it was torn with many different people pulling to better their own personal agendas, which were not necessarily best for the entire group or association. He quickly changed some of the leadership positions as well as recruiting volunteers that had the interest of our industry and association as the basis for their work. Bruce was tireless in his pursuit of eliminating individual goals and seeking what is best for the betterment of the association. If it wasn't broken he left it alone; if it was he fi xed it. Again, tireless in his pursuit of making his industry stronger through active participation and cooperation of both haulers and manufacturers.
Anecdote: A short story of Bruce and how he has touched so many lives of our members and their families: When I retired, some of my closest friends and associates were giving me a small party. When I showed up there were many people there from all walks of my life but very surprising and heartwarming to me was Bruce Parker, Gary Satterfield and Rita Ugianskis-Fishman. This gathering was in rural Mississippi on a Saturday night and the closest airport (of any size) was more than two hours away.
This showed the true character and care of these individuals, that they truly care enough about all of our members in this industry to take their personal time and honor us. My entire family was in attendance, quite a large group, but it was my twin five-year-old granddaughters who seemed to capture Bruce's attention, and they were delighted with this fellow with the thick white beard who looked like a short, slimmer Santa Claus. Two words continuously come to mind when try to summarize Bruce's career in the EIA: Tireless dedication.
Solid Waste Association of North America
Executive director and CEO
What he's meant: Bruce's competent leadership and professional management over an extended period of time have strengthened the voice of the EIA in support of the legislative and judicial objectives of the solid waste industry. He ably represented the solid waste industry in support of legislation and litigation at the federal, state and local level.
Accomplishments: One of his most significant is the "Environmentalists. Every Day." campaign, which changed the public face of the solid waste industry and demonstrated the great lengths to which the industry is going to recover energy and material resources and protect human health and the environment.
Challenges: When Bruce took over EIA, he recognized he had to make a fundamental transition as he moved from general counsel to president and CEO. He had to learn and become proficient in new business, management and human relations skills, and build coalitions and partnerships with other organizations, including SWANA. Not an easy task for someone whose career up to that was focused on legal representation, but he obviously succeeded very well.
Anecdote: The first time I met Bruce was when he sued me. I was director of the EPA's Office of Solid Waste when Bruce, along with attorneys from 30 other trade associations, asked the courts to overturn the EPA's hazardous waste rules. I think we are both claiming victory in that lawsuit, but we've moved on to bigger and better things and have been friends ever since.
Environmental Research & Education Foundation
What he's meant: When one thinks of one of the most visible people and one who represents the entire waste industry as a whole only a few names come to mind, and Bruce Parker is one of them. He has been around long enough that he has become somewhat of an icon for some, but is loved and respected by many.
Accomplishments: I feel Bruce is responsible for developing EIA into what it is today. When you consider where EIA was when Bruce began his role, it is clear to see the association has come a long way.
Challenges: I believe the biggest challenge for anyone running dual trade associations with a membership that varies from a "mom and pop" hauler to a Fortune 500 company is the same as it always has been and always will be: keeping such a diverse membership base, with varied needs and wants, both happy and cohesive. Anecdote: Bruce has always been there to help me personally and to support the foundation. I highly respect Bruce and wish him the very best in retirement. He is irreplaceable, and I'll most certainly miss seeing him.
Waste Pro USA
Bruce Parker and I go back to the early ‘80s. We have been through many association issues, and he always did the best for the industry. His friendship is most important to me, as is his care for the environment. When he smoked his cigars and threw it out in the grass, when he was done he would always say, "It's bio-degradable."
Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries
Although one could say our industries are related — waste and recycling — they are in fact very different, so Bruce and I did not interact much on industry issues. However, we were very active together within the association industry community, serving together on the NAM (National Association of Manufacturers) Council of Manufacturing Associations board and other related professional development activities. Bruce is a wonderful leader, mentor and friend. As a fellow association CEO he was always willing to offer assistance, advice and just talk through common challenges. We both faced representing industries that were changing rapidly, and the opportunity to share insights was always appreciated and extremely valuable!
Heil Environmental Solutions Group
Vice president, group sales
Past chairman, Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC)
What he's meant: Bruce's personality and leadership skills enabled him to create a cohesive working relationship between WASTEC and the NSWMA, which led to both organizations working toward the same goals for the EIA.
The value Bruce has brought to ESG (Environmental Solutions Group) is the interaction and cooperation between the manufacturing and hauling segments in our industry. In the early days of WEMI (Waste Equipment Manufacturers Institute), we as manufacturers were not invited and did not attend any NSWMA events. Under Bruce's foresight and leadership, that changed as he recognized the benefits of the two organizations having a closer working relationship. At that time WEMI became WASTEC and joined NSWMA under the umbrella of EIA. An example of the open communication between the two organizations is the annual EIA Executive Roundtable, where both manufacturers and haulers join together to share ideas and policy direction.
Accomplishments: In my opinion, Bruce's biggest accomplishments are his leadership in several landmark Supreme Court cases concerning flow control. Bruce's participation protected the interests of all EIA members.
Challenges: Bruce's biggest challenges have come in recent years with maintaining the membership levels of the EIA during difficult economic times and consolidations of companies. Bruce developed several creative programs that allowed us to be successful in maintaining our membership levels.
Anecdote: Bruce not only cares about this industry, but also the families of those in it. When my daughter was being tested for what could have been a serious illness, Bruce contacted me several times with sincere concern for her, offering his support. I will always appreciate that about him.
West Central Sanitation
National Solid Wastes Management Association
What he's meant: Bruce has been a steady advocate and promoter of the solid waste industry. He was always looking for ways to serve our members and create new relationships that would enhance our associations.
Accomplishments: Being thrust into an interim leadership position in the mid-'90s and becoming a rock solid CEO and president, enduring for many years. This gave us stability after a potentially disruptive experience. Bringing in and keeping members. Provided fiscally responsible and sound budgets throughout his tenure.
Challenges: Rapid mergers and acquisitions provided challenges, as many members could disappear in short periods of time. Flow control and government intrusion into the industry provided many challenges.
Anecdote: It was more than a job for Bruce. He was truly passionate about our industry and member service. He would call you at night and on the weekends. More recently his desire to work beyond his initially scheduled retirement showed his reluctance to leave the people and industry he had grown roots into.
National Solid Wastes Management Association
Former executive director
Farlie Turner & Co. LLC
What he's meant: Bruce took the EIA to the next level of growth and significantly broadened the membership and national recognition at the federal and state levels of government.
Accomplishments: Visionary for the rapidly growing role of recycling and promotion of recycling technology. Also want to add that Bruce set EIA on a stable and long-term financial base through the sale of WasteExpo and Waste Age to Penton Media.
Challenges: Pulling the diverse segments of the waste industry together for common goals.
Anecdote: His sense of humor will be a major part of his legacy at EIA.