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Garbage truck driver brings trophy home to JC

by Adam Reider | March 4, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Submitted Donovan Laird

Jefferson City garbage truck driver Donovan Laird won a national competition against fellow Republic Services drivers.

Laird won $5,000, five paid days off and a "vacation in of itself," he said. That and the right to service the Jefferson City community in his "frontload" -- a garbage truck that raises dumpsters over the front of the vehicle -- the day after his plane landed from Phoenix, which was where the competition was hosted.

Although he could have immediately taken the paid time off, he was eager to return to work. Being a family man, he thought it best that he set the days aside for a family adventure.

"Vehicles in a lot of other areas serviced are constantly leaking oil. ... I just want to thank Jefferson City Republic Services for providing the new equipment necessary to service our community safely and effectively," Laird said.

The familiarity that comes from his route, Laird said, makes it stress-free. He's been on the job 11 years. However, when it came time to perform in the competition, he was just as stressed out as a professional athlete on a buzzer-beating play -- every obstacle and route was brand new.

He had just about as many cameras on him as those athletes playing on TV, he said, and like an athlete, he couldn't accomplish goals without support from his wife and family. General managers and family who showed up were able to watch the competition on a large screen that displayed drone footage from above and shots from the interior of the vehicles.

As fun as it was for him to have the red carpet laid out -- free flights, lodging and unlimited food -- the real fun comes from just doing his thing as a frontload driver and also as someone who trains others how to do the job.

As a young man, he worked with his grandfather, who was a dump truck owner. Another toy he got to play with was his all terrain vehicle (ATV), which he took to ATV rodeos.

Laird said management at Republic cares, and even assists in paying for a class B Commercial Driver's License if one can work with them long term. Plus, "it's a stable job" with plenty of trash always coming down driveways and sidewalks.

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