May 1, 2008

2 Min Read
My Friend Jerry

Bill Wolpin

If You Are A Fan of Waste Age, you can thank dozens of people, but resting comfortably at the top of the list is Jerry Schwartz. Jerry may have been publisher of this magazine for more than 25 years, but he referred to himself as a garbageman — a title he took pride in.

By the time I arrived in our industry in 1983, Jerry had established himself as an institution, a waste industry-publishing pioneer since 1968. Three years earlier, he had left our company as publisher of the top magazine in the market, Solid Waste Management, to join Waste Age, recently purchased by the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) from its original owner. Within 18 months he had once again created the dominant magazine in the industry, capturing 75 percent of the advertising market.

Because I competed against Jerry with Solid Waste Management's successor, World Wastes, it was clear that Jerry understood this industry and, more importantly, really enjoyed living in it. I could tell from the opening bell that we were in the ring with a very smart man — maybe because he was outselling our three salesmen 3 to 1 by himself.

Over the next 15 years, I developed great admiration for him, and even though World Wastes had developed into a tough competitor, we became good friends, maybe because he realized that I, too, genuinely enjoyed our industry and its people, and that wasn't going to change. We discussed how our industry was evolving and what that might mean to our readers. Ironically, some of what I learned from Jerry made World Wastes a better magazine and me a better editor.

Likely, though, Jerry would be pleased knowing that he helped even a competitor because much of his life was spent making ours a better industry, one that commands the respect it deserves. Jerry believed in the critical role of the men and women in the waste industry, and understood that the proper execution of those services was fundamental to the environmental and economic viability of society.

At this year's WasteExpo, Jerry will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame, an institution that he suggested to the NSWMA in 1986. Jerry also was instrumental in creating the Environmental Industry Associations' Driver of the Year Awards, which recognize the significant role played by the refuse truck driver in safety and efficiency.

Recently, Jerry's wife Dorothy said she still has one of his first business cards, which read, “Schwartz is my name, and garbage is my game.” And, after his lifetime of service to the solid waste industry, I can safely say that no one played that game better than Jerry Schwartz.

The author is the editorial director of Waste Age

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