Before veterans served our community, they served our country | Guest Column

Leo Holte is a Waste Management driver, and then some.

Corporal Holte spent five years as a United States Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and then San Diego. Assigned to Motor Transport, Cpl. Holte was in charge of operating and maintaining tactical military and commercial motor vehicles.

It was a big job, a job on which lives depended, and he mastered it as a result of intensive training in safety, teamwork and leadership.

For 10 years now, Holte has brought this same knowledge and dedication to his work as a driver for Waste Management. His job is to make sure all the drivers on his team are equipped with the tools and the information necessary to complete their jobs safely and efficiently. The Everett resident serves the North Sound district, which includes Redmond.

“No driver left behind,” Holte likes to say.

Holte and his fellow drivers collect food waste and yard debris to help Waste Management’s local government partners reduce what goes to landfills. The work day can be long and demanding, especially when construction detours or weather conditions complicate routes.

That’s when the Marine in Holte shines.

“If somebody is running behind, I’m going to help them,” he said. “I’m going to step up to help the other driver every time, so we can service every one of our customers and then get home to our families.”

Holte credits his Marine training for helping him develop good judgment and initiative. His district manager, Jeff McMahon, appreciates Leo’s military training, especially how he approaches safety, teamwork, and leadership – the same core values that Waste Management strives to bring to communities and customers every day.

In fact, Waste Management is a champion for veterans — among the nation’s top employers of veterans. For six years running, the company has earned recognition as one of the most veteran-friendly companies from US Veterans Magazine, Military Times and GI Jobs.

It makes sense. One of every 14 Waste Management employees is a veteran, a spouse of a vet, or a current reservist. In the Pacific Northwest alone, the company employs more than 175 veterans.

“When we recruit for drivers and managers, military veterans often stand out because of their extensive training in safety as well as their natural leadership qualities. They know how to be part of a team,” said McMahon.

“For Leo and so many Waste Management employees who have served our country, there is also honor in being part of something bigger than themselves – in using their skills to serve our communities,” McMahon said. “It’s another way to serve others.”

Michelle Metzler works in public education and outreach for Waste Management.

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