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Women of Waste Pro: Stephanie Lyons

Women of Waste Pro

Stephanie Lyons
Office Manager
Daytona Beach, FL

When Stephanie Lyons first applied for a job under John Jennings, he told the person interviewing her to stop everything – he had found the perfect person for the job.

“I moved to Florida in 1990 and got a job right away with John at IWS in Altamonte Springs, and I remember him distinctly saying he decided to hire me because I stressed the importance of having a positive attitude,” Stephanie said.

Two years later, Stephanie joined John when he established Jennings Environmental, and she stayed with him up until 2001 when she decided to take a few years away from work to be a stay-at-home mom.

“John and his wife, Wendy, were so incredible to me while I was pregnant,” she said. “I had horrible morning sickness, and Wendy would take over for me when I was too sick to work.”

During her time away from work, she remained close with John and Wendy. Stephanie says as long as she’s known John, family has always been first and foremost – a value that he carries with him to this day at Waste Pro.

“I’ve known [current President & CEO] Sean Jennings since he was born,” Stephanie said. She now admits after all these years, “When he was three years old, I used to sneak him French fries because his mom wouldn’t let him have any!”

When Stephanie left in 2001, she personally recruited Judi Craigo to take her job – Judi is one of the original employees of Waste Pro and has stayed with the company to this day.

As her daughter grew older, she decided to return to work, so she called her old friend John Jennings.

“He invited me to see him, and I was floored at how much the company had grown in that time,” she said. “The Daytona office had gotten a few contracts, so I came back in 2007 as Office Manager and we have grown exponentially since then.”

Currently, the Daytona Division services 12 municipalities, covering all of Volusia County.

One of the most significant changes she was glad to notice when she went back to work was how many more women were working in the industry.

“I see a lot more female drivers – we have more females on this crew than I have ever seen,” she said. “It was refreshing to see more women in roles that I didn’t see much of before. Then again, we were so small in the beginning and by 2007 we were huge.”

The best part of the job, she says, is gaining a multitude of hands-on experience from her colleagues and managers. Division Manager Ken DeForest, she says, has been a great mentor to her.

“We and the rest of the team mesh so well together, we just have a great rapport,” she said.

She also recognizes the hard work of the frontline team members around her, from the drivers and helpers who she calls the “backbone” of the company to the office staff and administrators who keep the business running.

“They’re hardworking people with families earning an honest living,” she said.

Through her team, Stephanie says she has learned a lot about the day-to-day of it all, from budgets, billing deadlines, and time management. Those skills have led her to form strong relationships with the cities and counties the Division services – they have all put their trust in her to handle payments each month.

“It’s important to pay attention to everything around you and know you’re going to learn from every single person, whether they are a manager or a helper,” she said. “I learn from just seeing the guys on my route, how and why they do things the way they do. Be open to learning and keep a positive attitude.”

After 26 years in the industry, Stephanie can’t imagine doing anything else. For her, the trust and confidence Mr. Jennings has had in her throughout her career have been among the most meaningful things in her life.

“He knew I would do the job and do it well, and that felt really good to know,” she said. “I didn’t know this was going to be my career, but he somehow knew and has always had my best interest at heart.”