A driver for Walters Recycling and Refuse is one of the best in the nation and will be recognized at a May 9 conference in New Orleans for the National Waste and Recycling Association.
Andover resident Bill Kuhlman has worked for the Blaine-based company for almost 18 years. He started out working at the composting facility before he decided to take on the Brooklyn Park route in 1999. He has been collecting garbage and recycling materials from residents in this Hennepin County community ever since with the exception of a five-month period at the beginning of 2016 when he worked in Blaine after Walter’s got the waste hauling contract for the city.
A lot of Brooklyn Park residents were pleased to see his face again when he returned to his old routes.
“I got to know a lot of the customers. They were kind of sad when I went to Blaine for awhile and happy when I came back,” Kuhlman said. “There just seems to be a lot of nice people over here.”
Kuhlman has been nominated before, but this was the first time he’s won the Small Company Driver of the Year award from the National Waste and Recycling Association. Ten drivers from around the country will be receiving similar awards and are divided into different categories based on the size of the company fleet.
“There were 920 nominations submitted for these awards so being the sole winner in the small company category for the entire country is truly a big honor,” said Mike Moroz, president and chief executive office of Walters.
When hearing the news about the award for the first time, Kuhlman said he was shocked.
“It’s an honor to be nominated and actually receive it,” he said.
A nice bonus for him and his wife is it will be their first time visiting New Orleans.
Kuhlman stops by more than 4,000 homes Monday through Friday. Tuesdays and Thursdays are his busiest days.
The longest interruption he’s had in his job is when he was gone on a 16-month deployment to Afghanistan from 2004 to 2005. He retired in 2010 after 33 years of service in the Minnesota National Guard. Military service ran in the family. His father, sister and three brothers all served in the U.S. Army.
Bill Kuhlman has been married to Erin Kuhlman for 31 years. They have a son (Cody), daughter (Jessica), grandson (Tucker) and granddaughter (Haylee).
“We are incredibly proud to have had a driver like Bill on our team for almost 18 years,” company owners George and Greg Walter said.