Operator of the Year

Operator of the Year

Nominate your best! This competition is a great way to recognize your best and safest operators of heavy equipment, including bulldozers, front end loaders, compactors, etc. The winner in each category is honored in person at WasteExpo and receives a commemorative gift and $1,000 prize.

Application Fee

Member: $150
Non-member/public sector: $250

If you are employed by a private company, you must be a member to apply.

How to Enter

Nominations for 2023 are now open. The submissions deadline is February 5.

  1. If you are new to this application process, please sign up by entering your email address and creating a password. Your username and password are separate from your NWRA account. You will then be taken to the application form. If you have already created an application, please login to review/edit application(s).
  2. Complete all questions on the nomination form.
  3. Submit nomination form(s) with payment and required documents. These payments are non-refundable.
The Judging Process

All preliminary judging is completely anonymous and based on a weighted scoring system. The finalists in each category are determined by computer tabulation. Additional documentation will be requested for these individuals. Upon notification, please provide letters of recommendation, service award certificates, testimonials from customers or any other documented examples of outstanding service. The coded score sheets and additional documentation will be forwarded to a judging committee to assist in selecting the winners. The supervisor of the winning operator will be notified via e-mail.

Who Can Participate

Operators working in post-collection for a materials recovery facility, landfill or transfer station from the private and public sectors in the United States may participate.

Drivers must be a full-time employee at the time of nomination, winner selection and award presentation. Winners from past competitions are not eligible to enter again.

Please contact Kirk Sander at 202-364-3750 or ksander@wasterecycling.org with any questions about the nomination process.


Nivardo Gonzalez, WM; Rob Hamil, Republic Services, Inc.; Sergio Padilla, WM; Stanley Watts, WM

Honorable Mentions: Randy Beasley, WM; Steve Blake, GFL Environmental; Mathew Grant, Veit Disposal Systems; Jason Malinowski, WM; Robert Vaughn, GFL Environmental

Eric Selburg, WM

2023 Operator of the Year Honorable Mentions

Victor Maza, WM

William Randy Brooks, Peter Ratto and Robert Parkins, WM (tie for third place)

John A. Pogue, WM

Victoria Barragan, Republic Services, Inc.

Ronald Dunn, Republic Services, Inc.

MRF/Transfer Station: Edward Owen McMullen, Waste Management, Inc.

Landfill: Roberto Hernandez, Republic Services, Inc.

Scott Russell, E.L. Harvey & Sons

Bruce Russin, Casella Waste Solutions