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NWRA Announces 2023 Drivers and Operator of the Year


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

Arlington, VA March 28, 2023;  Today, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) announced its 2023 Drivers 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.

“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. Congratulations to all the drivers and operators,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith.

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 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.

This is the first year NWRA will recognize talented drivers and operators whose scores differentiated themselves from the larger candidate pool with honorable mentions. We received nearly 800 applications from member companies representing nearly 80,000 routed trucks. The driver 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. In addition to our winners who received the highest scores from our judges, the drivers and operators receiving honorable mentions are being recognized for their contributions to safety and service each day.

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 were also judged on the difficulty of their equipment to operate. This year, a tie occurred in the National Industrial category for the winner.

All honorees will be recognized at the annual awards breakfast held on May 2 at WasteExpo.

2023 Driver of the Year Winners
National Commercial – Arthur Alexander, Waste Connections
National Industrial – David McClendon and Robert Hodge, WM (tie)
National Residential – Felix Martinez, Republic Services, Inc.

Regional Commercial – Justin Smith, Jr., Rumpke Waste and Recycling
Regional Industrial – Randy Reynolds, Rumpke Waste and Recycling

Regional Residential – Gustavo Arriaga, Recology

Local Member – Vernon Kerns, Veit Disposal

2023 Operator of the Year Winner
Eric Selburg, WM

2023 Driver of the Year Honorable Mentions

National Commercial

Michael Ray, WM

Terry Jackson, Waste Connections

Harold Jackson, Republic Services, Inc.

Curtis Smith, WM

National Industrial

Sylvester Braswell, Republic Services, Inc.

Muhsen Barhoum, Republic Services, Inc.

Lawrence Prezioso, Republic Services, Inc.

National Residential

Dexter Perkins and Puth Muth, Republic Services; Charles Sims, WM (tie for 2nd Place)

Joel Steinberg and Archie Darden, GFL Environmental (tie for 5th Place)

Regional Commercial

Ron Howard, Casella Waste Systems

Salvador Plascencia, Recology

Regional Industrial

Kenneth Cook, LRS

John Michaud, Casella Waste Systems

Regional Residential

Joey Wright, Rumpke Waste and Recycling

Tina Kelly, Rumpke Waste and Recycling

2023 Operator of the Year Honorable Mentions

Victor Maza, WM

William Randy Brooks, Peter Ratto, and Robert Parkins, WM (tie for 3rd Place)

NWRA would like to recognize the judges who gave generously of their time to review each of the applications. The 2023 judges are:

Adrienne Gildea, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

Chris Greissing, Essential Minerals Association

Elisabeth Barna, EAB Strategies, LLC

Jeana Hyusell, JJ Keller & Associates

Jeffrey Reeves, Fortune Transportation

Kevin Kraushaar, J. Warren Associates, LLC

Rick Watson, Delaware Solid Waste Authority

Steve Ralston, Ashley Furniture

Tom Moore, National Private Truck Council


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