NWRA announced its 2023 Drivers of the Year and Operator of the Year winners and those receiving honorable mentions. The awards recognize the drivers and operators from member companies who put safety first. “Driver safety and retention are important indicators for the industry. This year’s winners and those recognized as honorable mentions, not only exhibit their dedication to the industry but an unsurpassed safety record. Congratulations to all the drivers and operators,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith.
The Driver of the Year awards are for those drivers who operate their trucks in a safe and responsible manner, have outstanding performance records, and whose contributions have enhanced the overall safety and image of the solid waste industry.
The Operator of the Year award is for employees working in post-collection for a materials recovery facility, landfill or transfer station who safely operate heavy equipment, including bulldozers, front-end loaders, and compactors.
This is the first year NWRA will recognize talented drivers and operators whose scores differentiated themselves from the larger candidate pool with honorable mentions. We received nearly 800 applications from member companies representing nearly 80,000 routed trucks. The driver and operators of our industry perform under some of the most demanding conditions while providing an essential service to every resident and business in the nation each day. In addition to our winners who received the highest scores from our judges, the drivers and operators receiving honorable mentions are being recognized for their contributions to safety and service each day.
The finalists were determined by a computerized scoring system. Independent judges selected the winners based on letters of recommendation and, for drivers, the difficulty of the route based upon factors such as pickups, weekly miles, and manual versus automatic transmission. During judging, operators were also judged on the difficulty of their equipment to operate. This year, a tie occurred in the National Industrial category for the winner.
All honorees will be recognized at the annual awards breakfast held on May 2 at WasteExpo.
2023 Driver of the Year Winners
National Commercial – Arthur Alexander, Waste Connections
National Industrial – David McClendon and Robert Hodge, WM (tie)
National Residential – Felix Martinez, Republic Services, Inc.
Regional Commercial – Justin Smith, Jr., Rumpke Waste and Recycling
Regional Industrial – Randy Reynolds, Rumpke Waste and Recycling
Regional Residential – Gustavo Arriaga, Recology
Local Member – Vernon Kerns, Veit Disposal
2023 Operator of the Year Winner
Eric Selburg, WM
2023 Driver of the Year Honorable Mentions
Michael Ray, WM
Terry Jackson, Waste Connections
Harold Jackson, Republic Services, Inc.
Curtis Smith, WM
Sylvester Braswell, Republic Services, Inc.
Muhsen Barhoum, Republic Services, Inc.
Lawrence Prezioso, Republic Services, Inc.
Dexter Perkins and Puth Muth, Republic Services; Charles Sims, WM (tie for 2nd Place)
Joel Steinberg and Archie Darden, GFL Environmental (tie for 5th Place)
Ron Howard, Casella Waste Systems
Salvador Plascencia, Recology
Kenneth Cook, LRS
John Michaud, Casella Waste Systems
Joey Wright, Rumpke Waste and Recycling
Tina Kelly, Rumpke Waste and Recycling
2023 Operator of the Year Honorable Mentions
Victor Maza, WM
William Randy Brooks, Peter Ratto, and Robert Parkins, WM (tie for 3rd Place)
NWRA would like to recognize the judges who gave generously of their time to review each of the applications. The 2023 judges are:
Adrienne Gildea, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
Chris Greissing, Essential Minerals Association
Elisabeth Barna, EAB Strategies, LLC
Jeana Hyusell, JJ Keller & Associates
Jeffrey Reeves, Fortune Transportation
Kevin Kraushaar, J. Warren Associates, LLC
Rick Watson, Delaware Solid Waste Authority
Steve Ralston, Ashley Furniture
Tom Moore, National Private Truck Council