We all must come together as an industry, large and small, to fix our issues now.
By John Paglia, III

Recruiting quality people is a task at the forefront of every manager’s mind right now. With the unemployment rate at historical lows, the field of applicants has narrowed significantly. The quality of applicants pulling from the unemployed population are generally not the talented caliber for which we all strive. This leaves us with a workforce that has diminished, yet due to the booming economy has left us all extremely busy and, in most cases, busier than we all can handle with current labor and assets ready to serve. While no one, including myself, is complaining about being busy, we are feeling the pain more than ever with the lack of quality applicants across the board.

An Industry-Wide Problem
When I reference across the board, I can refer to everything industry related and how lack of labor effects all aspects. Just last month, when I attended the NWRA FILA (Future Industry Leader Alliance) event in Washington DC, I spoke to fellow colleagues from both large and small companies all feeling the effects. It is a countrywide crisis. The lack of labor delays manufacturing from containers to trucks, reduces the quality of workmanship, delays arrival of products, which, in turn, have recurring issues due to poor or rushed manufacturing all cycling back to a poor labor market. All these less quality and unreliable products are also having a 30 to 40 percent increase in cost from last year. I assure you that haulers across the country are not raising our prices for services by 30 to 40 percent.

Getting the Word Out
No matter where you look or stats you refer to, commercial drivers are at an all-time shortage. We as an industry spoke on how to make our jobs more appealing to the youth and get the message out there that serving in the trash industry is not a trashy job. Due to the increased risk that comes from our business every day, finding a young, experienced, reliable and trustworthy driver is quite the challenge. In fact, it is almost impossible to have all of those traits available. It is an unfortunate situation that must change.

We argued that getting the word out about potential ranges of pay may help. Just in conversations I have with friends, customers and people outside the industry, they are always surprised to hear the benefits that we offer at Florida Express Environmental based on just our entry positions. The same holds true for all of us—some varying lower or higher based on specific market conditions. For a CDL driver, the average starting pay is generally $180 to $220 per day take home, full health, dental and vision insurance, $200 monthly safety bonus, paid vacation leave varying on tenure with the company, company matched IRAs, and a guarantee for five days per week Monday through Friday work. Add that all together over the course of the year and the compensation package is worth well over $60,000 per year as a starting salary in the waste industry.

We Must Come Together
I spoke with a friend of mine a few days ago who is at an executive level in one of the top 10 publicly traded companies in our industry. He agreed to having the same issues as the private sector, except unfortunately for him, his struggles are multiplied due to the thousands of drivers that they employ at any given time. We came to one drawn conclusion: we all must come together as an industry large and small, to fix our issues now. We must all have a voice and put together an action plan that is both realistic and achievable in a short time frame. If we look to make a change for years down the road, all we are doing is kicking the can down the road. We need to take immediate action. My contact information is below, I would love to hear from you via phone or e-mail on your ideas that I could bring up on a national level within the NWRA FILA organization to better our industry for us all now and into the future.

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 John3@floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.