Casella drivers John Michaud, of Potsdam, NY, and Ron Howard, of Plattsburgh, NY, were recently recognized for being among the best in the industry after being named 2023 Driver of the Year honorable mentions by the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA). Out of nearly 800 applications from member companies representing close to 80,000 routed trucks, Michaud and Howard’s commitment to excellence and safety set them apart from the rest.
The annual Driver of the Year awards recognize drivers nationwide who put safety first. Award recipients are 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.
In an announcement of this year’s honorees, NWRA President and CEO Darrel Smith acknowledged the essential service drivers and operators provide for residents and businesses in the nation every day while performing under some of the most demanding conditions.
“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,” said Smith. "Congratulations to all the drivers and operators.”
Both Michaud and Howard were recognized for their distinguished service at a celebratory awards breakfast on Tuesday, May 2 at WasteExpo in New Orleans, LA.
For more than 20 years, John Michaud has worn many hats while serving the Potsdam, NY area. His career as a driver has included servicing residential routes, training new hires, and hauling materials as a tractor-trailer driver, but one thing that you will not find on his record is a safety incident. As a seasoned industry professional, his ability to put safety first has earned him the highest recognition for workplace safety after being accident-free since his initial hire in 2001.
In addition to his driving responsibilities, Michaud also serves as his division’s lead tractor-trailer trainer, working with new hires and drivers of all skill levels to emphasize the importance of safe driving practices. Before taking on their own driving routes, division employees complete a mandatory three-week ride-along training with Michaud where they are taught best practices and safety tips from one of their own.
“John demonstrated all of the positive facets that the best leaders have,” said Market Area Manager William Meyers. “These include humility, being a great communicator, effort, dependability, attention to detail, and unselfishly helping others first without the need of being in the spotlight or taking credit for success.”
From day one to year 35, Ron Howard of Plattsburgh, NY has continued to prioritize safety, maintaining a spotless driving record and diligent commitment to performance. He serves as an extemporary colleague and mentor to new drivers while placing the needs of his customers at the top of his priority list.
Howard’s division consistently receives compliments from serviced customers about his attentiveness to detail in the field, and, in addition, members of his local team describe him as dedicated and determined with a commitment to service that is unmatched.
“Ron’s contributions to our team include not only his personal achievements but also the achievements of the many apprentices he has mentored over the year,” said Plattsburgh Division Manager Nicole Bola. “Ron is fully committed to teamwork as exemplified daily through his willingness to safely operate every style commercial motor vehicle in our fleet and flexibility in responding to our team’s and customer’s needs with support on the street.”
To read more about John Michaud and Ron Howard’s industry distinction and view all 2023 Driver and Operator of the Year award recipients, visit wasterecycling.org.
Casella Waste Systems, Inc., headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, is the Northeast’s largest recycler and most experienced fully integrated resource management company. Founded in 1975 as a single truck collection service, Casella has grown its operations to provide solid waste collection and disposal, transfer, recycling, and organics services to more than 900,000 residential, commercial, municipal, institutional, and industrial customers throughout the Northeast, and professional resource management services to over 10,000 customer locations in more than 40 states.