ProTips

The E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals

(No. 9, August 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: Natural Gas Engines

5. Quote of the Month

6. Ramblings

7. Announcements

 

Welcome

 

Welcome to Issue No. 9 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.

 

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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 ron@protoconsulting.com.

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2. ProTips for Professional Development

 

DWYSYWD…Do What You Say You Will Do. Building integrity is a long, slow process. It is built with small steps at first, leading to major investments in commitment as you gain the trust and confidence of others. So DWYSYWD. Deliver that report on time, follow up on that phone call you committed to, and follow through on that driver’s request. These small steps are easier to commit to than they are to do, but if you want to build trust and gain the respect of others, you’ve got to DWYSYWD.

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WYSIWYG…What You See Is What You Get. This computer jargon reminds you that what you see on your computer monitor is the same thing you’ll get on the printed page. In the early days of personal computers, this wasn’t necessarily true, leading to frustration and anxiety. The links between computers and printers have improved remarkably, and now match what has always been true in the business world. You must be consistent in the expression of your values and beliefs to all your constituents: employees, customers, and community. This won’t be possible if you try to be all things to all people, which will eventually trip you up. When you’re true to yourself, you and those around you can breathe comfortably, knowing there won’t be any nasty surprises in at least one area of life. I think a famous guy named Shakespeare said the same thing in a different way a few centuries ago. “To thine own self be true.”

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IWICTOAABIC…I Wish I Could Think Of Another Acronym But I Can’t. In keeping with the leadership theme, though, I have one more point to make. In addition to DWYSYWD, delivering on your promises, and WYSIWYG, being consistent with your values and beliefs, good leaders have to walk their talk. You can’t expect someone to follow your lead if you’re not following it yourself. If you preach austerity, then you must be austere. If you insist on hard work, then you must work hard. If you advocate respect for others, then you must be respectful. Good leaders walk their talk, are true to their values and beliefs, and deliver on their promises. You can’t skip here. All three must be in place for true success.

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3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

Check your routing …Commercial routing can be the bane of operations. For whatever reasons, it’s easy for routes to get out of sync, go out of bounds, or crisscross each other throughout your service area--a duplication of effort that wastes time, fuel, and energy. Poor routing will play havoc with your customers, your employees, and your profits, so routes should be checked at least once a year. If you haven’t done it recently, take the time now to check your routes and put them in order.

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Let’s take a break…Drivers are entitled to a break, especially with the modern extended workday. However, if they wander too far off their route to enjoy their repast, it will surely lower productivity. A 10-minute break can easily turn into 25 or 30 minutes. Few of us like to take a break alone, so it makes sense that drivers will get together to take a breather. This isn't a problem, unless they’re crossing five or ten routes to meet up with their buddies. Make sure your drivers stay close to their routes when taking breaks, as it will increase productivity and your profits.

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Listen up…You invested a lot of money in the two-way radio system installed in your trucks, so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Often there is so much gibberish on the airwaves it’s hard for legitimate conversations to take place. Some drivers are so put off by the nonsense that they turn off their radios. I invite you to drop by your dispatch office and listen to the conversations that are taking place. You’ll probably be amazed at what you hear. It is definitely no 911 dispatch center with controlled dialogue. If you don’t like what you hear, take action to correct the situation. It will improve employee morale and your bottom line.

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4. Topic of the Month: Natural Gas Engines

There is no question that a lot of pressure is being put on the waste industry to clean up the emissions from their collection fleet, and there are as many ways to resolve the issue as there are types of fuels and engine manufacturers. The following article was written by Spence Erickson of Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Although it doesn’t necessarily represent the views of this publication, it will give you some things to start thinking about, as 2007 isn’t that far off. . Spence’s contact information appears at the end of the article.

 

Now’s the Time to Prepare for 2007

 

California leads the nation in many areas, especially when it comes to reducing vehicle emissions. The state and nation have targeted heavy-duty engines to drastically reduce emissions by 2007. There are many ways to accomplish this through available funding, if you start reducing emissions in your fleet before the regulations begin.

 

The 2007 diesel engine requirements to lower emissions will result in higher costs. There are a dizzying array of options as to how a fleet manager can reduce their vehicle emissions. Particulate filters, O2 diesel, lower sulfur diesel, water emulsified fuel, bio-diesel, diesel additives, diesel retrofits and alternate fuels. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) can help you navigate this quagmire to help you make an educated decision based on economics and emissions benefits.

 

Prior to 2007, natural gas engines will be able to meet future emissions requirements without retrofits or fuel treatments. Historically, natural gas has tracked lower than diesel in fuel costs and is projected to remain lower than diesel into the future. Refuse Fleets that have adopted natural gas report fewer employee complaints related to exposure to diesel exhausts. Refuse companies have access to public funding, not available to private fleets, being a public service provider.

 

PG&E’s Clean Air Transportation Program is designed to educate fleet managers on natural gas as an alternate to diesel. A PG&E Representative can meet with you to review your fleet and fuel use. Our representatives are supported by a team, expert in designing and installing natural gas stations, finding you the appropriate engine for your vehicles, identifying total costs, identifying emissions reductions, and can help identify grant opportunities. They can also connect you with other fleets that are currently using natural gas.

 

Specialty Solid Waste and Recycling partnered with the City of Sunnyvale and received grant monies for both their compressed natural gas refuse trucks and station as well as a lot of attention. The American Lung Association and the National Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, both have recognized Specialty for their clean vehicle efforts. France and Taiwan have sent delegations to see the Specialty operation. In June 2004, Paris authorities placed an order for 78 Cummins Westport natural gas engines to power their refuse and street washing fleet. Paris authorities have set a target of 300 refuse collection trucks to be operating on natural gas by 2006.

 

Today is a good time to start looking at the different options for your fleet. Let us help you explore if natural gas can be an appropriate fuel for your fleet. This service is available to you at no cost. Make an appointment today with your Clean Air Transportation Program Manager to learn if natural gas is the alternate fuel for your fleet now and into the future.

 

For an appointment call PG&E’s Clean Air Transportation at (800) 684-4648 and schedule an appointment, today.

 

Spence Erickson

Clean Air Transportation Program Manager

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

mailto:sme2@pge.com

Office:  (831) 784-3347

Cell:     (831) 905-0579

Fax:     (831) 784-3618

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5. Quote of the Month

 

"You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction."

…George Horace Lorimer, Journalist

 

This quote pretty much says it all, but you have to love what you do before you can wake up with determination. If you don’t, chances are you won’t go to bed with satisfaction. I think the greatest challenge we all face is discovering what we love to do--to earn a living, that is. Do you love what you do?

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6. Ramblings

There is a lot written these days about balancing work and family life. The prevalent American life style, where both husband and wife work, definitely makes balance a consideration if you want to keep peace on the home front.

 

Fortunately, I’ve never been one to put a lot of thought into balancing career and family. It’s not that I’m a workaholic, but I’ve always said that nothing good ever came out of balance. If Albert Einstein had lived a balanced life, we would still be figuring out how to land on the moon. If Thomas Edison had believed in balance, we would still be reading by candlelight. If you have balance, the best you can do is walk a tightrope, which can cause some anxiety, and also will only take you from point A to point B. That’s not very exciting in my book!

 

Now, don’t get me wrong--I’m not in the category of Einstein or Edison--but I am single-minded about my purpose and spend most of my waking hours working. Frankly, I love being a garbage man, and I think I am blessed to love what I do. Work never seemed much like work to me; it was just part of my life. I’m not saying that I loved working every day, but I have always loved what I was doing.

 

So how was I able to pull this off and raise a family? I’ll sum it up in a single word…Vivian. I’m extremely fortunate to have a wonderful wife, Vivian, who tolerates my work ethic. Actually, she supports my work habit.

 

Never, in my entire career, did she ever lament that I worked too much. Wherever I fell short on the home front, she just picked up and carried on. Even better, she never complained or made me feel guilty for what some might consider shortchanging her and the family. She has always said of me, “living with you has been an adventure.” That’s one statement I’m taking at face value and not reading anything into.

 

Yes, I admit, we had to cancel vacations because I had to attend a regulatory meeting when an important permit was at stake. And yes, I missed my share of family gatherings because I had to attend a city council meeting for a rate increase, but I never had to think twice about making the work choice because I knew that Vivian always wanted me to do what was right for my job.

 

Many nights I called home; I knew dinner was almost ready, but I had to say I’d be late because some emergency cropped up. There was no whining or crying from Vivian. It was always, “Okay, I’ll see you when you get home.” Often she was asleep when I finally made it home, and sometimes I would leave for work before she awoke. I always made sure I gave her a kiss before I left, and somehow she knew I was doing it all in the best interest of our family.

 

Although I was able to coach my sons’ (Ron and Joel) baseball and basketball teams in the early days of my management career, I still had to miss a fair number of important events in their lives, like school plays, campouts, and recitals. They, too, learned to adapt to my work style and luckily grew up not resenting that I wasn’t always around.

 

There were days for Ron and Joel when I would leave for work before they got up and return home long after they had gone to bed, but never did I fail to go into their rooms to give them a good night kiss. They rarely would wake up; mostly, they would roll over and just snuggle in their blankets, but I know they knew I was there.

 

To declare I’m blessed with wife and family is an understatement. I have to be the luckiest guy in the world to be able to do what I love to do and to do it to excess most times and still have a loving wife and children.

 

To Vivian, I say, “It has been a pleasure, and hang on tight--we’ve still got a long journey ahead of us.”

 

To you, I say, “Balance? No thanks! I’m not into walking tightropes.”

 

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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, http://www.protoconsulting.com.

 

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

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Your submissions are always welcome. Send them to ron@protoconsulting.com. If I use your submission, I’ll give you credit, unless you wish to remain anonymous. All submissions become the property of R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc., unless otherwise requested by the writer. (Sorry, that’s my lawyer friend).

 

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© Copyright 2004 Ronald J. Proto. All rights reserved.