NWRA Announces 2024 Driver and Operator of the Year Award Recipients

NWRA Announces 2024 Driver and Operator of the Year Award Recipients

Awards Honor Drivers and Operators from Companies of Every Size Who Put Safety First

Arlington, VA – Today, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) announced its 2024 Driver 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.

“The drivers 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,” said Don Ross, NWRA Board of Trustees chairman. We look forward to recognizing the winners at our annual awards breakfast at WasteExpo. “

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 breakdown of the categories is: Local Company, less than 500 truck fleet; Regional Company, 500 to 2,500 truck fleet; and National Company, more than 2,500 truck fleet.

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.

“Driver safety and retention are important indicators for the industry. This year’s winners and those recognized with honorable mentions not only exhibit their dedication to the industry but an unsurpassed safety record. Congratulations to all the drivers and operators being honored,” said NWRA Interim President and CEO Jim Riley.

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 also were judged on the difficulty of the equipment operated. In addition to our winners who received the highest scores from our independent judges, the drivers and operators receiving honorable mentions were the next highest scoring applicants. This year, a four-way tie occurred in the Operator of the Year category for the winner.

All honorees will be recognized at the annual NWRA Awards Breakfast, which will be held on May 7 at WasteExpo. For more information about the breakfast and to purchase tickets, click here.

2024 Driver of the Year Winners and Honorable Mention Recipients

National Commercial
Winner: Matthew Linden, Republic Services, Inc.

Honorable Mentions: Juan Alfaro, Republic Services, Inc.; James (Allen) Cox, Republic Services, Inc.; Kenneth Gelderloos, Waste Connections, Inc.; Greg Rascoe, Republic Services, Inc.; Robert Schuleter, Republic Services, Inc.

National Industrial
Winner: Ramon Salaz, Waste Connections, Inc.

Honorable Mentions: Richardson Ball, Republic Services, Inc.; Sylvester Braswell, Republic Services, Inc.; David Howard, Republic Services, Inc.; Jason Jewell, GFL Environmental; Terry McQuillan, Republic Services, Inc.; Lawrence Prezioso, Republic Services, Inc.

National Residential
Winner: Terrel Herring, Republic Services, Inc.

Honorable Mentions: Steve Beachy, Waste Connections, Inc.; Darryl Brown, Waste Connections, Inc.; Jesus Casas, Republic Services, Inc.; Jon Detwiler, Republic Services, Inc.; Jacob Mayo, Republic Services, Inc.

Regional Commercial
Winner: Curtis Rhodes, Casella Waste Systems

Honorable Mentions: Sixto Dela Cruz, Recology; Tony Grodesky, LRS; Scott Deal, Rumpke Consolidated Companies

Regional Industrial

Winner: John Michaud, Casella Waste Systems

Honorable Mentions: Cesarin Guerrero, Casella Waste Systems; Louis Shaner, Rumpke Consolidated Companies; Ralph Snow, Rumpke Consolidated Companies; Matt Willis, Rumpke Consolidated Companies

Regional Residential
Winner: Shawn Dutton, Casella Waste Systems

Honorable Mentions: Tina Kelly, Rumpke Consolidated Companies; Manuel Vera, Recology; Phil Wright, LRS

Local Member

Michael Gondek, All Waste

Public Sector
Manuel Vigil, Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling

2024 Operator of the Year Winners and Honorable Mentions

Winners: 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

NWRA would like to recognize the judges who generously gave their time to review each of the applications.

The 2024 judges are:

Adrienne Gildea, Deputy Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance
Billy Martin, Retired Safety Professional
Elisabeth Barna, EAB Strategies, LLC
Ellen Voie, Founder, Women In Trucking Association, Inc.
Jeffrey Reeves, Fortune Transportation
Kevin Kraushaar, J. Warren Associates, LLC
Richard Watson, P.E. BCEE, Chief Executive Officer, Delaware Solid Waste Authority
Ryan Pietzsch, National Safety Council
Tom Moore, CTP, National Private Truck Council
Wayne Bailey, Safety Director, FedEx


The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) represents the private sector waste and recycling services industry. Association members conduct business in all 50 states and include companies that manage waste, recycling and medical waste, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and a variety of other service providers. For more information about NWRA, please visit www.wasterecycling.org.

Brandon Wright
National Waste & Recycling Association