‘We just try to help people’: The story of a man and the industry he’s loved for over 50 years

Aug 25, 2021


By Kristi Rains-Boring

Almost every morning, Harold Cooper gets out of bed and does the same thing he’s done for over 50 years now. He clocks in at work – and then, he repairs trash compactors.

Today, Harold is 78 years old – and he’s Waste Connections’ most tenured employee. He and his son serve as a dynamic duo to maintain trash compactors in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Harold started working with Waste Connections in 1969. Before that, he worked for a concrete pouring company.

One day, a buddy of Harold’s started driving a small garbage truck and referred him to what was, at the time, a small waste collection company that would later be acquired by Waste Connections.

And that’s how Harold broke into the waste and recycling industry all those years ago.

When asked what his favorite part of the job is, Harold simply answers that he genuinely likes doing what he does. He likes working on trash compactors. He likes keeping them maintained. He honestly enjoys the work.

He’s seen a lot of things change, he says. He likes seeing progress, though. Like the new ASL trucks that “save those boys a lot of hard work.”

Looking back on his years in the industry, Harold says he can remember “a lot of stuff” – like the fact that his first paycheck was for $99.99. And it was paid in cash.

“You’ve gotta come in and work hard. It’s the only way that you’re going to make anything of yourself,” he says. “I’ve worked hard ever since I’ve been here.”

Since Harold started working for the company, he’s driven small trucks, helped with roll-off deliveries, and worked on truck maintenance. But nowadays, he’s happy working on trash compactors with his boy.

When asked what’s made him stay all these years, he’s always quick to respond: “I like the people I work with.”

For Harold, it’s about more than just a good benefits package and company-wide revenue growth.

It’s simple. And it’s the heart of Waste Connections’ culture.

“We just try to help people.”


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