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Meet Our Waste Pros – Johnnie Tarver

Meet Our Waste Pros

Johnnie Tarver
Front Load Driver
Ft. Myers, FL

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.

Johnnie 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.

Johnnie has been with the Waste Pro Ft. Myers Division since it opened in the early 2000s, and last fall, earned his first $10,000 Safety Award – that’s 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 Johnnie, 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. Many nights are spent “butting heads” on something to watch with his wife – “We don’t like the same movies, but I’ll watch certain movies with her cause she’ll watch sports with me,” he said with a laugh. Weekends are reserved for playing basketball with his son.

With his house close to being paid off, Johnnie 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 Johnnie from Ft. 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!