Executive Director and CEO
Solid Waste Association of North America
How long have you been in the industry?: Nearly 22 years!
How did you get involved? What was your first job?: I was hired as Association Counsel at the Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) in March 1997. I had a strong environmental and transportation background, and EIA’s in-house lawyer was leaving to pursue other opportunities.
Who/What was your biggest influence?: I think my biggest influence has been Bruce Parker, EIA’s long-time CEO. He taught me that associations and the waste industry are both relationship businesses, and that building relationships with key people and organizations is critical to personal, professional and organizational success. He also showed me the importance of preparation and attention to detail.
What has been your most unique/interesting experience: I am very thankful for the wide variety of amazing experiences and opportunities I have had in my years in the waste industry. I spoke at a waste conference in Beijing in September 2017, and before the conference, I went to the Great Wall and hiked along it for several miles. Walking on the Great Wall and seeing the skyline of Beijing in the distance was an incredible and unique opportunity.
What do you see as the biggest challenges to the industry today?: Although recycling gets the most press attention, recruiting and retaining front line employees, particularly drivers and mechanics, is probably the industry’s most formidable long-term challenge. Across the entire transportation sector, there is a major driver shortage, and with many truck drivers nearing retirement age, the short-term future doesn’t look favorable. Improving compensation and our safety performance are two key ways that the industry can improve its driver recruitment and retention concerns. We need to get waste collection workers off the list of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S.!
What do you like most about being in the industry/your job?: I feel a great sense of pride working on behalf of SWANA members and the solid waste industry. The collection, processing, and disposal of trash and recyclables is underappreciated, but so important. It is essential to public health and the environment; it is an essential public service, and it provides excellent job opportunities in a recession-resistant industry. In addition, the incredible diversity of issues associated with solid waste means my workday is rarely boring, and that is increasingly true as SWANA expands its international-facing activities in Latin America and elsewhere.
Hobbies: I play a lot of sports—softball, volleyball and tennis. I’m also a bit of an amateur meteorologist, and other than running SWANA, my dream job would be at the Weather Channel.
Last vacation: After representing SWANA at the ISWA World Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in October, my wife Donna and I spent nine days in Thailand, exploring Phuket, Bangkok, and a beautiful national park where we saw wild elephants, monkeys and 2 million bats leaving a cave at sunset.
Words to live by: If you don’t ask, you won’t get.