The business world of yesterday is not what it is today. To keep your ship pointed in the right direction and moving forward, you must have the ability and vision to make changes on the fly.
By John Paglia III

Charging forward.
Photo courtesy of Florida Express Environmental.

At this point in 2020, I am sure all of us are growing tired of COVID-19. Everywhere we turn, everyone we talk to, it continues to be in our face. Face masks are required just about everywhere. It was once weird to see a few people wearing them; now, it has become part of everyday wardrobe—keys, wallet, phone, face mask. Whether it is an excuse from a vendor as to why they cannot get parts or the employee who is seeking a medical evaluation for COVID-19 virus, the challenges of COVID-19 continue to be in our face every single day. I have previously talked about the financial aspects this virus has played on residential and commercial waste streams. Anyone who knows me understands that I am a glass half full type of guy. I love a challenge and the opportunity to rise above from it when others wrote us off for failure. That is the mindset I want all of us to have. While I respect this virus is real and can have some challenging and deadly health consequences, the media has spun it into something larger than it really is and created mass panic. Some continue to be panicked while others are getting closer to business as usual.

Moving Forward
I have spoken with or visited many members of the industry and we all are carrying on the same practices—masks are a requirement, and cleaning office spaces and collection trucks is an ongoing daily occurrence. The largest challenge is staffing—mainly anyone doing physical work (Drivers, Helpers, MRF pickers, Spotters at landfill, etc.)—and I foresee it continuing to be until the media removes the fear they are casting on the general population or a viable proven vaccine is available. Work, where possible, has shifted to digital meetings and I believe due to efficiency and convenience, it will remain in our business world even when COVID-19 passes. Unfortunately, this has side effects that play a toll on the economy. The waste and recycling industry are tied to every industry; therefore, we have more of an effect than we may think. If we are not traveling to visit each other and conducting in person meetings as often as we used to, that also means we are not flying, staying in hotels, eating in restaurants or entertaining from city to city. That also means waste and recycling volumes are down, further depressing the commercial markets.

Face the Challenges
This work environment has brought a lot of us closer together and forced many in their operations to start cross-training in order to continue to be able to service the customers effectively. This respect for one another is something that I am very proud of as many men and women across the industry are asked to work a little harder, outside their comfort zones, and still have performed effectively and safely. We can only go so long making excuses. Eventually we need to bunker down, face the challenges, and find ways to overcome them singularly and collectively. If we continue to be flexible in our decision making and business practices, keeping safety as a guiding light in decision making, we will overcome these challenges. Evaluate all sectors of your business. Most often, when we have been asked why principles and practices are a certain way, the answer has been, “that’s the way we have always done it.” This will be the first practice needing change. The business world of yesterday is not what it is today; I mean that almost quite literally. To keep your ship pointed in the right direction and moving forward you must have the ability and vision to make changes on the fly. Everyday continues to bring new challenges and will for the foreseeable future. Evaluate your obstacle and create a plan to overcome it. We can do this. Everyone stay safe and well. | WA

John Paglia III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail [email protected] or visit