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Meet Waste Pro’s First Four-Time $10,000 Award Recipient

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Ron Pecora
Chief Marketing Officer

Ft. Myers, FL – May 20, 2019 – Before he walks out the door and heads to work, Angel Veloz makes a pledge to himself and his wife every day that he will come home safe.

In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked driving a garbage truck as one of the top five most dangerous jobs in the country. Yet, for more than a decade, Angel has managed to keep his pledge and avoid accidents or any other safety issues, making him the first Waste Pro driver to earn the $10,000 Safety Award four times.

Born in Cuba, Angel came to the United States as a refugee with his family when he was two years old. He lived in California until he was 18, when he started driving trucks – something that piqued his interest while watching his dad work in construction and trucking.

“It’s tough when you’re a first-generation immigrant. It’s tough. You can taste success. You don’t have it, but you can taste it because it’s all around you. And that’s what made me, me,” Angel says.

Angel got into the garbage side of the trucking industry nearly 20 years ago. His brother had a construction and demolition debris business and offered him a position as a roll-off driver. Then, in 2000, he joined Waste Management; at their recommendation, he joined Florida Recycling a short time later, which joined Waste Pro in the mid-2000s. It was there that Angel met West Coast Regional VP Keith Banasiak.

As a roll-off driver, Angel collects and hauls trash for several businesses in the Ft. Myers/Cape Coral area. His main customer, he says, is Southwest Florida International Airport. After going through all the necessary background checks, he gained clearance to access the airport without an escort. Many times, he says, he has to go around airplane wings to get to dumpsters, and often spends his entire work day there.

Angel’s exemplary work at the airport led officials there to approach him to write their safety operation plan for gathering and hauling trash. To this day, the airport follows the guidelines he wrote.

Throughout the years, Angel has seen his share of risks on the job – raccoons, snakes, and even alligators in dumpsters; used needles and guns thrown in trash; unknown chemicals in international waste coming out of the airport.

“Those are things that you don’t think of in the trash industry,” Angel says.

He’s had close calls on the road, too, but Angel is convinced what keeps him safe is prayer. He doesn’t consider himself a religious person, but he prays and remains even-keeled when he encounters risks like distracted or aggressive drivers.

“Sometimes on the job site, things go wrong. You feel like flying off the handle and you don’t,” Angel says. “You say stop, get over yourself, you’re an adult. And at that point, I look at the situation and I address it. You have to solve it, not be part of the problem.”

Another thing that encourages Angel to stay safe on the road are memories of horrific accidents he’s seen happen to the very people who trained him to become a driver.

The key is to remain focused, Angel says. He never uses his phone while driving, even on Bluetooth. He’s motivated by Waste Pro’s leadership, which he says has given so much to him – like a customized truck – that he wants to show his appreciation and respect by driving safely and being an example for others.

“What [John Jennings and Keith Banasiak] have with me is somebody that will leave no stone unturned. Once I’m on the job, I’m on the job. Once I’m here, I got your back.”

Angel even comes to the yard every weekend, sometimes with his wife, to clean his truck and keep it shining like it’s brand new. He takes great pride in keeping himself, and his truck, presentable, and urges those just getting started in the industry to have the same mindset.

“We haul trash, we don’t have to be trash,” Angel says. “You can be an upscale person and still do your job…be representable, have goals, be nice to people, and have a good attitude about the job.”

Of the $40,000 Angel has won through Waste Pro’s $10,000 Safety Award program, he hasn’t kept a penny of it for himself. Instead, he offered the money to his children to do things like buy a home or pay for a college education.

“I’m American all the way, but I came as a refugee so I’ve seen what it is to have nothing. I don’t want anybody to go through that,” Angel says.

Angel and his wife have three children, two in the Ft. Myers area and one in New York City, and two granddaughters. Spending time with them, he says, is his idea of a perfect weekend. He also enjoys barbecuing and riding his motorcycles with his wife.

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 nine southeastern states. Waste Pro, with revenues exceeding $700 million, serves more than two million residential and 40,000 commercial customers from over 75 operating locations. Waste Pro is headquartered in Longwood, Florida, and maintains more than 270 exclusive municipal contracts and franchises.