2024-05-20 13:18News

Trio of Regional Drivers of the Year Highlight Historic Showing

Casella 2024 NWRA Driver of the Year Award Recipients

For the first time in history, four Casella drivers were recognized for being among the best in the industry after being named 2024 Driver of the Year by the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), including a sweep of the regional award category. Out of hundreds of applications from member companies representing close to 80,000 routed trucks, the four Casella drivers' commitment to excellence and safety set them apart from the rest.

  • Regional Commercial Driver of the Year: Curtis Rhodes, Brattleboro, VT
  • Regional Residential Driver of the Year: Shawn Dutton, Fredonia, NY
  • Regional Industrial Driver of the Year: John Michaud, Potsdam, NY
  • Regional Industrial Honorable Mention: Cesarin Guerrero, Willimantic, CT

The annual Driver of the Year awards recognize drivers nationwide who put safety first. Award recipients are drivers who operate their trucks safely and responsibly, 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 Interim President and CEO Jim Riley 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 with honorable mentions not only exhibit their dedication to the industry but an unsurpassed safety record," said Riley. "Congratulations to all the drivers and operators being honored.”

All four drivers were recognized for their distinguished service at a celebratory awards breakfast on Tuesday, May 7, at WasteExpo in Las Vegas, NV.

Curtis Rhodes

Curtis Rhodes NWRA DOTY

With each of his 38 years in the industry, Curtis Rhodes is dedicated to a job well done and done safely. Rhodes has accomplished decades of exemplary service, while maintaining a safety record with no incidents. He goes the extra mile, constantly willing to help his teammates by finishing additional routes or by staying late to make sure equipment is in order for smooth operations the next day. His teammates look up to him, as he often takes the time to train new employees and mentor others to ensure safe and service-focused operations across the board. Exceptional customer service also comes naturally to Rhodes due to his friendly demeanor and unwavering kindness. He is committed to customer satisfaction, constantly ensuring that customers feel valued and sufficiently taken care of.

“Curtis is the quintessential professional. A team player who is always willing to step up, whether helping to finish up another route or working on equipment on the weekend so things are ready to go the next day,” said former Brattleboro, VT Operations Manager Shawn Allen. “He has trained and mentored many young drivers throughout his career.”

Shawn Dutton

Shawn Dutton NWRA DOTY

Shawn Dutton is the ideal community member, with exceptional service at the forefront of each of his 20 years in the industry. He is known for taking the time to help elderly community members, retrieving totes that are not accessible, and initiating conversations with customers who just need to talk. Management has credited his mentorship as the driving force behind the division’s success, training multiple employees to adhere to Shawn’s deeply rooted values of service and safety. Dutton is involved in his community, consistently volunteering to assist youth sports programs, and is always eager to participate in community outreach opportunities.

“Shawn understands the importance of building relationships both professionally and personally. Professionally, he takes the extra time to walk up the driveways of his elderly customers when they have trouble, or he takes a moment to chat with a recent widower,” said Jamestown, NY Division Manager Bill Devlin. “Shawn is well-liked by his colleagues and always willing to lend a hand. He proves his dedication with an impeccable work ethic, safety at the forefront, and perfect attendance.”

John Michaud

John Michaud NWRA DOTY

For more than 21 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 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 Northern NY 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.”

Cesarin Guerrero

Cesarin Guerrero NWRA DOTY

Throughout his 21 years of service in the waste management industry, Casella driver Cesarin “Cesar” Guerrero has served as a natural leader in his division. His above-and-beyond work ethic, paired with his unwavering commitment to safety, customer service, and efficiency has led to an exemplary safety record with no preventable incidents during his career. Guerrero is described by his Willimantic, CT team as having a glowing personality, positive values, and a strong willingness to mentor new drivers.

“For as long as Cesar has been working here, he has shown himself to be a valuable employee and continuously exceed expectations,” said Willimantic, CT Division Manager Mark DiMauro. “He is the first to welcome new employees, a great trainer for other drivers, always willing to lend a helping hand, and committed to performing his job safely each and every day.”

About Casella Waste Systems, Inc.

Casella Waste Systems, Inc., headquartered in Rutland, Vermont, is one of the largest recyclers and most experienced fully integrated resource management companies in the Eastern United States. 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 one million residential, commercial, municipal, institutional, and industrial customers and provides professional resource management services to over 10,000 customer locations in more than 40 states.


Jeff Weld
Vice President of Communications
Jeff Weld