Q&A with GFL’s Tyler Stefure: Integrating New Fleet Tech & Upholding GFL Values

In this Q&A interview, Tyler Stefure, a Waste360 40 Under 40 award winner, discusses his career path, as well as how he works to meet challenges such as recruiting and training technicians in a tight job market, and keeping up with rapidly evolving fleet technology.

Willona Sloan, Freelance writer

June 26, 2024

6 Min Read

Tyler Stefure, Fleet Director for Western Canada with GFL Environmental, manages a fleet of over 1,000 units, while also helping to grow new business in his territory, which spans from the Manitoba-Ontario border to Vancouver Island.

In this Q&A interview, Stefure, a Waste360 40 Under 40 award winner, discusses his career path, as well as how he works to meet challenges such as recruiting and training technicians in a tight job market, and keeping up with rapidly evolving fleet technology.
This interview has been edited for length.
Waste360: What are some of your major roles and responsibilities?
Tyler Stefure: I cover collections, post-collections, and various other support faculties. Outside of my fleet function, I provide operation supports to our collections operations, as well as capital management and project management.
Waste360: What are some of the common challenges you tackle in your role?
Tyler Stefure: I guess a common challenge, right now, is fleet technology. Emerging fleet technology continues to change and it’s continuing to become more complex, and more expensive to replace.

Technician training and technician availability are both becoming a challenge. It’s hard to find certified, trained technicians. The marketplace demand for skill and labor in Canada is quite high, much like it probably is in the U.S.; so, it’s often hard to find people who are able to work on new emerging technology. We compete with a lot of other people for the same folks. We take a lot of pride in growing our own homegrown solutions, supporting in Canada, tradespeople throughout their apprenticeship to receive their journeyman. We’ve partnered with high schools and community colleges and technical colleges to try to attract and retain people into this career path. People may not have thought of this as a viable career option.

But I don’t want to necessarily say the only challenge is staffing. Obviously, challenges are also limited equipment availability, supply chain delays, and everything else we’ve lived through since early 2020. It’s been tougher, and we continue to navigate that.

Waste360: What was your professional path to this role as fleet director?

Tyler Stefure: I started originally as a technician. I worked in a truck shop for many years and sort of worked my way up through the ranks in Canada. Started as an apprentice, became a journeyman, took on supervisory accountability. I wanted to continue to grow my career, but I wasn’t exactly sure what my path would bring me.

I took some night classes and courses into basic level business management. More or less, took a leap of faith into a single site fleet manager job that was with a different company. I worked my way up fairly quickly, took on various levels of responsibility, including more territory, to the point where I got noticed by GFL, and they brought me onboard as they expanded into Western Canada.

Waste360: What is something that you enjoy about the work that you do?

Tyler Stefure: I really enjoy the fact that every day is a little bit different. It’s always representing a new challenge, there’s always something to solve for. I like the daily challenges and things that come with it. I also really enjoy the mentorship portion. I’m extremely proud of my fleet department within my area and the people we have, and look forward to continuing to serve and develop and grow. That is something that I really enjoy -- working with those folks.

I also like project management. I’ve been fortunate enough to manage quite a few large projects, greenfield sites, site builds, hauling yard builds. I just completed a large, MRF project, which was quite fun. From capital management to construction management, I really enjoy that aspect of my job, as well.

Waste360: When you bring new people into the fold of your company, what are some of those GFL values that you make sure that they understand?

Tyler Stefure: I focus a lot of ground on operational excellence and safety. I also pride myself on doing things right, taking the time it needs to do the job correctly and to deliver a better product for the field. I want that out of all my people. I want people to take time to ensure they’re really doing the absolute best they can to avoid having to do it again.

Waste360: What has been something you’ve had to learn to acquire to be successful in this role, since you started nine years ago?

Tyler Stefure: With GFL specifically, the rapid growth of our area, Western Canada, was fast-paced. We were acquiring companies every other day at that point. No sooner would you acquire a new piece of business, and work to try to integrate it, and along would come another one. The challenge of that rapid growth, trying to get everything done, trying to fit everything together, be safe while doing it, and providing great customer experiences and support, the whole thing was a lot to navigate. Obviously, we’re better for it today.

Waste360: What is something on the horizon, either for GFL or for the waste industry, that you’re excited about or looking forward to?

Tyler Stefure: I stay really close to emerging fuel technology and new technologies. The changes that are on the horizon for the waste industry, when it comes to the truck side of the business, are exciting. It’s going to be fascinating. There are going to be lots of changes in the next three years. With some new technology rapidly emerging and sort of due out at any point here, it’s exciting to stay on the front line of that.

Waste360: And that’s to be more sustainable?

Tyler Stefure: More sustainable, better aligning to emission reduction targets and other things the industry is bringing about. I think the refuse segment when it comes to trucking is exciting because it’s a little bit of a different dynamic than trucking. A lot of it can be adapted a little quicker. Return to base operations with fueling always puts us into a different position where we can really pilot and sort of test and try new things with a little better success in most cases.

Waste360: What advice would you give to a young professional starting their career in the waste industry?

Tyler Stefure: Own your opportunity. Make it yours. Take risks, accept challenges, write your own story. Don’t be afraid to think of things differently. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and look at the picture a little differently.

Just because we’ve done it one way -- that’s not always the way we need to continue doing it. There can be a challenge and it can be fun discovering different ways to get things done.

About the Author(s)

Willona Sloan

Freelance writer, Waste360

Willona Sloan is a freelance writer for Waste360 covering the collection and transfer beat.

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