Republic Services provides waste services for East Baton Rouge Parish. They provide 810,000 services per week or 42,120,00 million per year to the residents in the parish. It has been challenging with Covid, Hurricanes along with a 25% increase in volume just in garbage. Just in one month the Delta Variant hit, Hurricane Ida and Nicholas which drivers were also affected by this. We have some of the best drivers and employees. They come to work everyday to service their customers even during these difficult times which has affected drivers across the Country.
In her seven years at Republic Services in Baton Rouge, Dedra McKinley has become a valued team member. She alone provides service in East Baton Rouge Parish to 8400 residents per week and 100,800 thousand per year. She steps up whenever the need arises. She trains new drivers and serves as a mentor to them. Plus, she does it all with a big smile and a positive attitude that inspires others.
For her continued dedication to excellence, McKinley has been named the National Driver of the Year by the National Waste and Recycling Association. The award goes to drivers who safely operate their trucks, maintain a superior performance record and enhance the overall safety and image of the industry in eight categories.
“To be honest, I’m just now beginning to realize what it means,” said McKinley. “I’ve never received an award for anything, so it has taken a while to sink in.”
McKinley is the first female Republic Services driver to win the award. She was selected out of thousands of nominees from waste service providers across the United States.
“It could have been anybody in the entire country,” said Sharon Mann, general manager of Republic Services’ Baton Rouge division. “It’s really encouraging to see someone like Dedra who wants to excel in a job they love. She is a role model. She has a lot to do with recruiting people to come here. When she brings people in, she trains them and they become friends. Those friendships last for a long time.”
McKinley said she initially applied for a job at Republic Services because it was close to her home and the schedule would allow her time to spend with her family. The single mom’s hard work and commitment to her children has allowed them to go on to their own success. Her son works in heavy machinery. Her oldest daughter became an ultrasound technician. Now, her youngest daughter is attending Southern University on a full scholarship.
“I just wanted to prove to them that anything can be done and to never give up,” McKinley said. “I’ve always told them that whatever job you have, do the best you can with it.”
Mann said that as a behind-the-wheel instructor, McKinley has shared that same message with new employees, especially females.
“She has embraced that role,” Mann said. “She always talks to them and explains how she was able to buy a house, take care of herself and put her kids through school by being a part of the company and being dedicated. People look to her as a mentor. She’s also very funny and very personable, which puts people at ease.”
McKinley said that keeping a positive attitude is one of her main goals and something she tries to impart to others.
“I’ve taught myself to not let anything upset me,” she said. “I just want to take things one day at a time and one step at a time. I don’t let things get to me or bring me down.”
In recognition of McKinley’s award, Republic Services held a dinner in her honor. She’s also getting a brand new service truck that will have her name and the name of the award on the driver’s side door.
“When she is driving through Baton Rouge on her routes, everybody will be able to see her and know that she is the best,” Mann said.