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Episode 3: Landfill
Richard worked with Chris Gronquist, a former Landfill Assistant Manager at Waste Connections‘ Denver Regional Landfill. He now resides in Garden City, Kansas where he oversees operations as the Site Manager for the Finney County Landfill, another Waste Connections facility. Here, he discusses how weather impacts the daily routine, which machine is his favorite and more!
What is a typical day like for you at a landfill?
Chris Gronquist: At the Denver Regional Landfill, I made sure that equipment maintenance was happening and completed in an efficient and safe manner, and that the trash was getting pushed, packed and covered every day. I ran equipment when someone needed help and also made sure that environmental compliance stuff was being taken care of; customer complaints and other customer concerns. We worked Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 5 or 6 PM. On Saturdays, we’d start around 7 AM and end around 2 or 3 PM.
You’ve been driving some of these monster machines like the bulldozer, the scraper and the compactor for a number of years. How did you get involved in this line of work?
Chris: My father was, and still is, a heavy equipment supervisor for various companies. And it was my dad who taught me how to operate these machines, not only with the companies he was working with, but he also had some at home that I would run during the weekend to help mow the yard or build a pond, whatever the case may be. I started around age 12.
What would you say is the biggest challenge when you’re working at a landfill?
Chris: At a busy landfill like Denver Regional, it was safety because there are so many people there. Not only are you watching out for your team, you’re also looking out for the commercial drivers. One of the harder challenges — we call them the moms and dads — are the cash customers. Some of those people have never been to a landfill and they kind of get like a deer-in-headlights when coming to a landfill, so I was always interacting with them and pointing them in the right direction.
When processing trash, how much does the weather affect your job?
Chris: In Denver, the weather is a big factor because you have all four seasons. When it’s spring, you have the rain every other afternoon, which is awesome because it keeps the dust down and it keeps the trash from blowing away. Once summer arrives, where it’s dry, you put water on the roads to keep the dust from blowing away. Then, you get the fall where you’re kind of dealing with the springtime again. When it’s winter, there’s snow that has to be moved. In Denver, you can get three or four feet of snow no problem, but you have to get it out of the way because the trash comes in every morning at six o’clock and you have to be ready to accept that trash.