By Gary Budzak
James Stoops, a Rumpke driver who works in Powell and other areas, has been named Driver of the Year by the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA).
“Everybody here looks up to James because he’s a very consistent driver,” Scott Jordan, Rumpke Operations Manager and Stoops’ supervisor, told The Gazette. “It’s going to make everybody better, because they want to be like that.”
Stoops, who hasn’t had an accident in 12 years, serves commercial customers in Delaware, Franklin and Union counties. Jordan said Stoops’ accounts include KFC, Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club, Panera Bread, and Scioto Reserve Country Club.
“We don’t get any issues off his routes,” Jordan said. “His attendance is very good, and overall is just a good person.”
Stoops drives a commercial front-load truck for Rumpke, whose arms on the side scoop up trash bins at a restaurant, lift the bins over the truck and empty the trash. Residential trash trucks are traditionally rear-loading.
The NWRA, a trade organization, annually selects the safest drivers in the industry in three categories based on the number of vehicles in their fleet. Rumpke Consolidated Companies is classified as a Regional Carrier, with a fleet of between 251 and 2,000 vehicles, and is competing with companies nationwide of similar size.
“The driver of the year process is very extensive,” Rumpke spokesman Jonathan Kissell told The Gazette. “It begins with a nomination process where we look at the drivers on our team with the best safety records with some level of seniority.”
The NWRA then winnows the field down to finalists, and the finalists solicit letters of recommendation from customers and co-workers. From there, the NWRA selects the winners, including Stoops.
“I try to be a defensive driver, making sure I’m staying safe,” Stoops, 38, of Chillicothe, said in a statement. “I want to make sure no one else on the road has to worry about me.”
Stoops was one of 26 drivers recognized at the 46th Annual WasteExpo Conference and Exhibition in Atlanta on April 29.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-363-1161 ext. 340 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.