Let’s work together to remain positive and turn this 2020 into the year that we faced a monstrous set of challenges and setbacks only to climb to the top of the mountain together again.
By John Paglia

2020: a year to remember! We are halfway through 2020 and it will go down as one of the most memorable kickoffs to a decade anyone reading this has ever seen. As you read the opening statement, I am sure you are flooded with thoughts like I was when I wrote this column. Will you take it as a positive statement or a negative one? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the remaining six months? It is clear that COVID-19 has had impacts on the industry for temporary and permanent changes that will continue once it fully passes. Thinking back to December 2019, the largest of news for the industry was the looming WM/ADV acquisition, depressed commodities, increased contamination in recycling, technological advances, etc. COVID-19 hit and seemed to pump the brakes on all extracurricular activities while everyone related to the industry scrambled to regroup their troops, protect them, provide for them, guide them and motivate them. We all learned and re-learned how important a solid safety culture is and the importance of keeping company morale high. There is no way any of us could survive without teamwork by our essential workforce.

Even prior to the events we have seen in 2020—from COVID to the recent riots—we have always placed a large emphasis on company morale and respect for one another as humans. I was raised to show everyone the same respect you expect to be treated with. Since its foundation, America is made up of a blend of so many ethnicities, all striving together to make a name for themselves in the “Land of Opportunity”. This is what has made us stronger than any other nation. Somewhere along the way, we have lost our way in parts and this same strength is threatening to become a weakness. If you turn on the news or scroll a thread in social media today, you cannot help but notice us Americans trying to pit one against another. How about we stop this! What will it take? We must all remember that we are Americans. Let’s stop making things out to be one ethnic group versus another. We are all one race—humans. We all make mistakes. We must work together to not repeat them.

I think the nation could learn from our industry. To the average Joe, we drive trucks down their streets or behind their business, remove trash or recycling, and make it disappear in the blink of an eye. We know it to be much more than that behind the scenes to pull off such a feat like clockwork day-after-day. Any company who can perform like clockwork, I promise you, has a family-like atmosphere made up of hard working passionate caring individuals. These individuals care more than just punching the time clock for a paycheck. As I look within my company, I am proud of our culture and the men and women made up of honest, hardworking, trustworthy, respectful and integrity-filled individuals. Every company, like our nation, is a blend of ethnicities adding value to the total population because we all have different histories that together make us strong.
When you treat someone with respect, the heartwarming feeling is overwhelming. When employees are given more than just a paycheck or lip service that you care for them and are shown you care by repeated acts of genuine kindness, that is when true morale builds. My mind races on the highs and lows we have experienced as a work family over the years, but one thing that remains is we have always come out stronger once we persevered through the low spots. I have no doubt as an industry and nation we will do the same. With leadership we can overcome anything. Your brain is a powerful tool—use it. The attitude you face a challenge with is more than half the battle. Speak positives into existence. Remove negativity the second you see a thought or action creeping in. Let’s get back to working together, remain positive, and turn this 2020 into the year that we faced a monstrous set of challenges and setbacks only to climb to the top of the mountain together again. | 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 www.floridaexpress.us.