The E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals

(No. 8, July 2004)


A guide to this month’s edition

1. Welcome

2. ProTips for Professional Development

3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

4. Topic of the Month: How to Save at the Pump!

5. Quote of the Month

6. Ramblings

7. Announcements




Welcome to Issue No. 8 of “ProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals.”


This month’s newsletter is filled with tips and thoughts to help with your professional development and to manage your business more profitably. My purpose is to stimulate your thinking; the industry benefits most when we all do our best.



If you would like more information about any of the topics discussed in this newsletter, or have any thoughts you would like to share, call me at 510.881.9440, or send an e-mail to


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2. ProTips for Professional Development


Plan your telephone call…Take a few minutes to plan your next telephone call. Ask yourself what three things you want to get from it. Write them down, then think about what you want to say before you make the call. By doing this, you will accomplish two things. First, you’ll have a better chance of meeting your objectives. Second, you’ll make better use of your time and the time of the person you called, something you can both be grateful for.  In the likely event you get the other person’s voicemail, you’ll be prepared to leave a succinct message that is bound to get a return call.


Get the e-mail you send noticed…Have you been getting too much e-mail lately? Do you hit the delete key often? Maybe you just scan your e-mail for the subjects that catch your attention and let the rest build up in your in-basket. Bingo! You just hit on the trick to get the e-mail you send read immediately. The next time you send an e-mail, take advantage of the subject line, and craft it so it gets the reader’s attention. For example, you can type a subject line such as “Ron, attached is the project report; I need your comments by July 10.” There is no ambiguity about the importance of this e-mail. The reader knows right away that action needs to be taken. It’s a win-win that saves time and gets things accomplished.


Take some time off…That’s easier said than done, especially if you don’t have a big vacation scheduled that you planned way back when. The operative word here is planned. Unless it’s the vacation of a lifetime to Paris, the Bahamas, or to Castro Valley, it never gets marked on your calendar, and that’s the problem. If you want to take some time off, mark it on your calendar now. Then, when you make business appointments, you will have already blocked off the time. If you wait until you have some free time to take it off, trust me--it’ll never happen. Do yourself and your family a favor and schedule some time off now. You’ll thank yourself when you return to work rested and full of energy.



3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

School is out…Although school has been out for more than three weeks, this is a good time to remind your drivers again that the little (and big) kiddies are out on the streets in force. While driving around, it’s become evident to me that the younger folks have no mind for their own safety. What is particularly disturbing is to see five- and six-year-olds darting between cars without regard for oncoming traffic. Caution your drivers to be extremely alert for little ones, especially if automated collection equipment is being driven. Involvement in a fatality can be devastating for the driver and the company.


Lock-out/tag-outis one of the most important safety procedures you can have in place. You can never remind your drivers too often to lock-out/tag-out their trucks before climbing behind the blade or into the body of the truck. Drivers by nature are always in a hurry. Pressure from the boss to produce and from the maintenance manager to clean behind the blade can be a recipe to cut corners. Never let this happen. If you don’t have lock-out/tag-out procedures in place, contact a safety professional immediately. In any event, remind your drivers to lock-out/tag-out in order to avoid accidents.


Idle timeLast month I wrote about reducing the time your trucks idle before the engine computer shuts them down. I’ve since found out that setting the idle shutdown to three minutes is a good standard. That is good advice; however, the best advice is to teach your drivers to turn the engine off with the ignition switch. When the engine is shut down in this manner, the electrical system is also shut down. If the idle shutdown turns off the engine, the electrical system is still on, draining the battery. This can have a negative impact on automated collection equipment if the lifting mechanism is electric over hydraulics, which most of the newer equipment is. Save yourself a road call; teach your drivers to turn off the engine with the ignition switch when they go on breaks or to lunch.


Wow, I’m getting way too technical! I got this excellent advice, though, from one of the top equipment managers in the business (who wishes to remain anonymous). *************************************************************


4. Topic of the Month: How to Save at the Pump!

The following article is reprinted in its entirety with permission from Armanino McKenna LLP. It appeared the June 2004 issue of the California Refuse Removal Council (CRRC) – North District newsletter entitled, “The Long Haul.”


This article was written by Steve Schwartz and Alan Mitchell of Armanino McKenna LLP in 2001. Given today’s gas prices are at an all time high and are expected to rise throughout the summer, Armanino McKenna thought this article would be especially timely given the current gas prices today. The following article, “How to Save at the Pump!” was written in 2001 by Steve Schwartz and Alan Mitchell, and is reprinted in its entirety with permission from Armanino McKenna LLP. It appeared in the June 2004 issue of the California Refuse Removal Council (CRRC) – North District newsletter entitled The Long Haul. Given that today’s gas prices are at an all-time high and are expected to rise throughout the summer, Armanino McKenna thought that reprinting this article would be especially timely, and so do I..


“Gas prices are continuing to rise and there does not seem to be an end in sight. Is there anything you can do to offset these increased costs to your bottom-line? There is partial relief for companies operating trucks on public roads with Power Take Off units (PTO).

There is a $0.18 per gallon California excise tax included in your diesel fuel bill. The Board of Equalization (BOE) will allow PTO operation on solid waste trucks to be tax-exempt. You may be entitled to the $0.18 per gallon tax credit.


“To calculate the fuel used to operate the PTO we suggest the “Shadow Method”. 

The “Shadow Method” will determine the savings you are entitled to.


“To accomplish the calculation it is necessary to use two trucks of the same type and model for one route.  Both trucks start the day with a full fuel tank.  The first truck (truck #1) performs the complete route just like any other day.  The second truck (truck # 2) will follow truck # 1 and do everything truck #1 does, except the PTO will not be engaged during the entire shadowing process.  At the end of the day refuel both trucks; the resulting difference in fuel used by each truck is the amount attributable to the operation of the PTO.


“Historically, the BOE has not required 100% route testing but rather a representative sample from various types of trucks and routes. Upon completion of the testing, an average PTO percentage is calculated and this percentage will be applied to the fleet to arrive at the gallons used for tax-exempt business activities.


“While the shadow method requires some initial time and effort, the savings can be significant once a standard PTO percentage is established and approved by the BOE. The number of route days that need to be shadowed depends on the number of truck types, models and route types. When your collection fleet is composed of many similar vehicles the cost of testing is less than if your fleet is more varied.


“As an example of the potential savings let’s assume that your trucks use, on average, 25 gallons per day with a PTO percentage of 30%.  Based on these assumptions each truck operated would receive a refund of $350 annually (Note - currently there is no requirement to retest annually). Additionally, the BOE allows a retroactive refund for the 36-month period ending with the month the initial claim for refund is filed. In this example the initial refund would be $1,050 per truck.”


“Armanino McKenna LLP is a leading provider of accounting and consulting services to the Solid Waste Industry and an Associate Member of the CRRC. We would be pleased to answer your questions or discuss setting up shadow testing in more detail.  Please contact Alan Mitchell at  (925) 790-2600 or for further information.”



5. Quote of the Month


I first read this poem in the book entitled Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, who gave no credit to the author, C. W. Longenenecker. Consequently, I thought Napoleon Hill wrote the poem; maybe he would have liked to have taken credit for it. It’s also interesting to note that the poem was written before women had equal billing, but it applies equally to men, women, and children.



You Can If...

You Think You Can!


If you think you are beaten, you are,

If you think you dare not, you don't.

If you like to win, but you think you can't,

It is almost certain you won't.


If you think you'll lose, you're lost,

For out in the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow's will.

It's all in the state of mind.


If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You've got to think high to rise,

You've got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.


Life's battles don't always go

To the stronger or faster man.

But soon or late the man who wins,

Is the man who thinks he can.




6. Ramblings


A few weeks ago I had the honor and privilege of attending the Old Timers’ Tribute, sponsored by CRRC and hosted by Richmond Sanitary Service/Republic Services, Inc. It’s a wonderful event that honors the folks--most of them retired--who built this industry, I’d like for you to come along with me and go back to the event so I can share it with you…


It doesn’t take long for the room to quickly fill with the honorees. The event starts at noon, but they start drifting in at 11:15 in the morning. What do you expect? They’re all garbage collectors. Have you ever heard of a garbage collector being late? It’s doubtful!


Once immersed in the crowd, we quickly get caught up in the spirit of the moment. Everyone is smiling, shaking hands and talking loudly. Remember--these folks are “old timers” who started working in the garbage business when you had to get your hands dirty. In those days, MBA meant, “My Back Aches,” and they communicated by yelling real loud with phrases such as, “Hey, two on the left, put the lids on the cans, and don’t forget to close the gate.” I can remember the shout as if it were yesterday. You were new on the route and they just wanted to be helpful, and yes, they wanted to finish early. These guys were all about working hard and giving good service. No matter how quickly they moved, they never sacrificed good service.


What is most delightful for me is seeing some of my former partners from Oakland Scavenger Company. These are the guys who not only taught me how to be a garbage collector; they set a foundation of values for me to build my career on. I’m ever so thankful to them!


Mark Figone of East Bay Sanitary Co. and his crew are the chefs today, and they’ve prepared a banquet befitting the occasion. Naturally, since they’re cooking for garbage collectors, it’s all you can eat. And eat we do, feasting on barbequed beef and chicken with all the trimmings…topped it off with a scrumptious dessert.


The best part of the event comes after lunch. The Old Timers make their way to the microphone and give their spiel--name, company, and how many years they‘ve been in the business. Cumulatively, the thousands of years of experience these guys have are amazing!


I pay close attention as each Old Timer recites how long he has been in the business. One by one, they step to the microphone: 35 years, 47 years, and 43 years. “Phew,” I think, “no one has hit my goal of fifty years.” If I make it, I’ll be in a very elite group. I know only two other garbage collectors who have reached that goal: Peter Borghero (deceased), who was with Oakland Scavenger Company for 53 years, and Joe Pesce, Sunset Scavenger Company, who just celebrated his 50th year--a tip of the hat to both of you.


As the honorees continue to stroll up to the microphone, one guy pulls up tall, grabs the mike, and announces, “My name is Joe Garbarino Sr. I’m 86 years old. I’ve been in the business 61 years and I’m still going strong.” That is humbling for a guy trying to hit 50 years. Joe, my friend, you are in a league of your own. Congratulations and best wishes…for many years to come.



7. Announcements


“ProTips, the E-newsletter For Waste Industry Professionals” is produced and distributed monthly by R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc. I encourage you to share it with your colleagues and friends. You may reproduce this electronic newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include the correct copyright notice (at the end of this newsletter), with a link to my website,



If you would like more information on any of the above topics, call me at 510.881.9440 or send an e-mail to Please visit my website at for more ideas on professional development and operational improvements.



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