Never compromise your founding principles, treat everyone with respect, be open minded and keep safety ahead of profits. In doing so you will create a work environment that is attractive to anyone on the outside and they will eventually want to join in on the greatness.
By John Paglia, III

Across the country, statistics will vary supporting the lack of CDL drivers available for hire in today’s economy. I have seen reports claiming more than 60,000 to almost 200,000 drivers are needed country wide. Regardless of the number, the facts are that there is a shortage. Recruiting drivers—quality drivers—not just steering wheel holders, is an art in itself.

Compensation and Benefits
The first step in recruiting a driver is evaluating his/her history of employment paired with his MVR (Motor Vehicle Report). With an already limited pool to begin with, it becomes even smaller when you become very selective in offering employment to a driver. The risk of being patient and waiting for a quality driver will pay off because once you recruit them and take care of them, they will stay.

Always demand top performance for top pay. If a guy treats his position as a professional, he will usually demand a higher pay. To go beyond just a good rate of base pay, we offer many other incentives and benefits while working at Florida Express Environmental. We start with a monthly safety bonus of $200. They earn this additionally every month by having no accidents, incidents, callouts, complaints or safety infractions. If they go 12 months of perfection, they are then entered into a lotto at the annual Christmas party and the winner is sent the following year on an all-expenses paid vacation and getaway for themselves and their family with a value of $10,000. This does not even count against their self-accumulating personal leave they attribute though the year.

Treating everyone the same is a large part of the culture at Florida Express Environmental. To prove this, the same exact Health/ Dental/ Vision insurance the CEO and COO have, is the same level of insurance that is offered to the employee. For new employees starting with the company, the company pays 90 percent of the premium for the employee and 70 percent of the premium toward the family. One hundred percent employee and family coverage is rewarded to long-term and key employees based around safety and tenure. This dollar amount can range at the start around $10,000 and grow to $20,000 and up for full family coverage. That is significant but shows we care about them beyond just being productive at work and allowing them to collect a paycheck. We also have 100 percent company paid gym memberships for the employees at a chain that gives them access no matter where they live. We then take it another step forward offering full retirement benefits through a 401K program. Pair this up with holiday bonuses and we like to believe this compensation package is a leader in the markets we serve.

Style and Comfort
Pay is only one battle in the war of driver recruitment. It is no secret that at Florida Express we spend excess amount of money on our fleet to make sure drivers have everything they could imagine for style and comfort. Notice I said driver. I find that a steering wheel holder does not care and will destroy the extra chrome, leather, lights, aluminum wheels on a truck. I find a driver will appreciate the cleanliness and condition of our trucks based on the open maintenance budget we have when it comes to safety and comfort. They in return will take pride in their assigned truck, becoming more productive, and creating less unexpected maintenance repair issues by someone who mistakes a dirty truck for an excuse to drive it rough. When we spec a truck, we could probably save $20,000 per truck or more by cutting out the goodies. Like I said before, I have no problem paying more to demand a great driver who, in return, will love his truck, job and company. At the end of the day we want them to feel like they are part of an extended family, and by doing these actions it shows we put our money where your mouth is.

The interiors of Florida Express Environmental’s collection trucks.
Photo courtes of Florida Express Environmental.

Getting the Message Out
Having a solid compensation package and a nice truck to drive is the start. Attracting them and getting this message out there is a challenge in itself. We currently advertise via social media (Facebook/Instagram), word of mouth, our website (, signs/ billboards in the counties we service, local job fairs and even, most recently, an open house we announced in the local papers and opened our shop for on the spot hiring of all positions. I know a lot of waste companies even use their trucks to advertise hiring, I have mixed opinions on that personally, but I will say it may work. I encourage you to develop your culture within your company. Never compromise your founding principles, treat everyone with respect, be open minded and keep safety ahead of profits. In doing so, you will create a work environment that is attractive to anyone on the outside and they will eventually want to join in on the greatness. If you offer the same or worse than your competitors, do not expect to attract and retain diamonds in the rough.

We also very rarely hire a driver with previous waste experience. We find training a guy who can drive safely, is worth training our way. This also opens up the applicant field and does not recruit against the local industry. I do not support recruiting other waste experienced drivers from markets you serve. Develop and train your own talent and you will have a very productive staff ready to serve your customers day after day.

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 or visit