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Fort Myers Waste Pro driver earns $10,000 Safety Award

By Staff | Jan 21, 2021

PHOTO PROVIDED Johnnie Tarver, left, accepts the check from Fort Myers division manager Bill Jones.

Johnnie Tarver is ready to work come rain, sleet or — well, it doesn’t snow in Florida, but if it did, he’d be ready to work then, too.

Tarver started his career in the waste industry more than 20 years ago after first working in road construction. He wasn’t able to work in the rain, so in the often-wet Florida climate, it often cost him money.

A friend of his who worked in the garbage industry at the time told him there are more opportunities for him to work, which motivated him to get his commercial driver’s license (CDL) and get behind the wheel of a truck. He joined a national waste hauling company in 1997 on a recycle truck, then a residential truck a short time later, and by 1999 he was driving a front loader.

“I came to work every day, I did what I was supposed to do, I never complained — that’s how I was able to move up faster than some other guys,” he said.

Tarver has been with the Waste Pro Fort Myers Division since it opened in the early 2000s, and last fall, earned his first $10,000 Safety Award — because safety is his top priority.

“Pay attention while you’re driving, especially if you’re assisting on a route in an area you’re not familiar with,” he advised. “You need to look out for things like power lines, how much room you have to back out, and what’s behind you.”

While a lot has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for Tarver, he’s been fortunate enough that he hasn’t seen much of a difference on the job. The only difference, he said, is that some of his loads were lighter in the beginning as many businesses were closed — but that’s back to normal, he said.

The hours, Johnnie said, are his favorite part of the job. He gets up early, but that means most days he’s able to get home early enough to rest and spend some time with his family before he goes to bed.

With his house close to being paid off, Tarver plans to use his $10,000 Safety Award money to put toward the payments — he hopes to be mortgage-free in 2021.

A little trivia about Tarver from Fort Myers Division Manager Bill Jones: Based on the size of his route, he has serviced more than 10,000 cans without any damage, accidents or injuries in the past three years — that is a skilled driver!

About Waste Pro USA

Waste Pro USA Inc. is one of the country’s fastest growing privately-owned waste collection, recycling, processing and disposal companies, operating in 10 southeastern states. Waste Pro, with revenues exceeding $700 million, serves more than 2 million residential and 40,000 commercial customers from over 75 operating locations. Waste Pro is headquartered in Longwood, Florida, and maintains approximately 300 exclusive municipal contracts and franchises.