Republic Services, Phoenix, Arizona, has announced two employees were recognized with the 2019 Driver of the Year and Operator of the Year awards from the National Waste &Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia. Mike Juhan of Winder, Georgia, was named National Commercial Driver of the Year. Roberto Hernandez of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, was named the National Operator of the Year.
"Safety is the number one priority at Republic Services," remarks Jon Vander Ark, president. "It's why we continue to invest in our award-winning, best-in-class training program that enables our drivers and operators across the country to continually improve. On behalf of our 36,000 employees, I congratulate Mike, Roberto and their families on this extraordinary recognition."
For more than 25 years, the NWRA Driver of the Year and Operator of the Year programs have honored drivers and operators who "uphold the field of recycling and waste collection as an honorable occupation" and have conducted themselves and the vehicles and equipment they operate in a safe and responsible manner, according to a news release. Juhan and Hernandez were honored by the industry and their peers during the NWRA Awards Breakfast May 7 at WasteExpo.
Juhan has spent more than 20 years in the industry and is a certified residential and small container collection truck driver. He has had no preventable crashes or injuries throughout his entire career and is also the two-time reigning local ROAD-EO champion of Republic's local skills competition for drivers and operators.
Juhan takes “great pride in the communities he serves” and is willing to “go above and beyond” for the company, Republic says. He is part of Republic's SOS program, which consists of volunteer drivers from across the country who are deployed to service routes in the aftermath of natural disasters.
When he is not driving a collection truck, Juhan volunteers at the local food bank, teaches Sunday school and serves as a deacon in his church.
For 25 years, Hernandez has been an essential part of Republic's landfill operations team. He has maintained a “flawless safety record” with no crashes or injuries, in addition to a perfect attendance record. He was a three-time NWRA Operator of the Year finalist before his win this year, the company says.
Hernandez is a “model employee” and “takes great pride in his profession.” He is a selfless leader and has mentored countless employees, inspiring team members to approach each day with a willingness to go above and beyond for customers, the company says. He is admired company-wide for his commitment to excellence.
A devoted family man, Hernandez and his wife have four children. He is dedicated to his family, his faith and serving his community.
Since 2009, Republic drivers have won 75 percent of the NWRA Driver of the Year awards, an honor that celebrates exemplary customer service and superior driver safety records. This is Republic's first NWRA Operator of the Year winner.
Republic's commitment to safety has led to the formation of comprehensive, industry-leading safety programs that rely on continual training to reduce incident frequency, the release says. Last year, roughly 14,000 employees earned Republic's Dedicated to Safety award and 4,000 employees received the Dedicated to Excellence recognition. Over the past 10 years, Republic's safety performance, based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data, has been 40 percent better than the industry average.