The week of June 17 is Waste and Recycling Workers Week. This national observance recognizes the vital role of waste and recycling workers in keeping our cities safe and clean.
Meet the Athens Services Team Who Keeps Your City Clean
Every year, the week of June 17 is Waste and Recycling Workers Week. This national observance recognizes the vital role of waste and recycling workers in keeping our cities safe and clean.
Athens Services deploys 1,700 employees daily to serve more than 40 communities in Southern California. They work hard every day to provide the best service possible to their customers.
Athens is proud of our employees. We admire their commitment and dedication to service. Here, we present some of these unsung heroes.
Pablo Gonzales, Commercial Driver
Vincent Yard, Irwindale
Pablo Gonzales has been with Athens since 1982! He will be retiring on June 30 after 39 years with the company.
Pablo has driven Route 2 in Pasadena since the beginning. He came to Athens from another waste hauling company. “What Athens has done for me is different from the company I came from.”
In looking back over his long career, Pablo said that what he has liked most about working at Athens has been the respect with which he has been treated. “Early on, I was fortunate to meet the owners, and we’ve always kept in direct contact. I appreciate how they always take care of the drivers, especially with food and events.”
We asked him if he has any great memories or stories to share from nearly 40 years on the job. “Too many to tell. But mostly, I will always be appreciative of the owners and what they have done for me.”
Pablo has been married for 39 years. He has three sons, Alex, 45, Abel, 38, and Edward, 30, and a granddaughter, Ela, 1. In his free time, Pablo enjoys being with family and relaxing at his ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico. After he retires, he plans to split his time between the ranch and traveling.
Field Supervisor Joe Aguirre said, “Pablo has maintained a reputation for hard work throughout his tenure with the company. He also has a great relationship with the Pasadena customers along his route. Pablo is a true expression of The Athens Way. He will be missed.”
Maria Lopez, Residential Route Driver
Salt Lake Yard, City of Industry
Maria Lopez joined Athens in 2020. She’s no stranger to driving trucks for a living, having driven a big rig in her previous position.
She decided to make the switch to the waste and recycling industry to have weekends off. After speaking with some Athens employees she knew, she applied and was hired.
“I know people who have worked 25-30 years here. That kind of loyalty says a lot about a company.”
Maria is primarily responsible for two residential collection routes per day in Norwalk, one for trash and one for recyclables. She has also driven routes in Montebello, Pico Rivera, and Rowland Heights. “I love it! There’s never a dull moment. Every day is different.”
She enjoys working outdoors. Her top priorities as a driver are providing good customer service and staying focused on safety.
“The customers I come across are very nice. They always stop to give me water, and they give me great feedback.“
Maria comes from a large family. She has nine siblings and 13 nieces and nephews. She spends time with them when she can. “When we get together, we ARE the party.”
She enjoys taking weekend trips to Las Vegas and to Texas to visit family. When she is at home, she plays with her dog, Luke, goes to the beach, and cooks. “I love to cook; there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal.”
Looking ahead in her career, Maria said she is “not closed to anything. I see myself growing and learning and seeing what opportunities come open. I’m willing to learn everything I can about the company.”
Operations Supervisor Charlye Herrera said, “Maria has stepped up to the plate big-time. The residents and the city love her. Whether she is driving her route or covering other routes, she gets it done with a positive attitude.”
Julio Reyes, Operations Lead
Sun Valley MRF
Julio Reyes joined Athens in 2015 after 15 years in the food industry.
“I found the waste industry to be very interesting. Once I learned how the industry operated, I was sold. I wanted to be a part of this movement.”
He was attracted by the opportunity to work at the Sun Valley materials recovery facility (MRF). His primary responsibilities include coaching and training others. He also implements and monitors safety procedures and oversees production quality.
Julio’s favorite part of the job is educating new employees about the types of materials they need to sort for recycling. “It’s rewarding to see them learn about the importance of diverting recyclable materials away from landfills.”
Julio has two sons, Julian, 5, and Blas, 1, and a daughter, Breanna, 11. His favorite professional sports teams are the Dallas Cowboys and the Dodgers.
His goal in the next few years is to become a supervisor at the MRF.
“Julio brings out the best in those around him,” said Operations Manager Brian Hunter. “He has been the definition of hard work and perseverance. He is a pleasure to work with.”
Nick Ainza, Heavy Equipment Operator
American Organics, Victorville
Nick Ainza started his career with American Organics in 2016 as a temporary laborer. After four months, he was hired full-time in 2017.
Before joining the Athens-owned composting facility, Nick knew some of the employees. In learning about their work, he became interested in how the facility processes organic waste to create compost.
“I liked the family-like work environment. I wanted to be a part of that and to work for an industry and an organization that was stable.”
When he can get away, Nick enjoys surfing and skateboarding. He is married and has two daughters, Mia, 6, and Nyla, 5, and a son, Ryker, 1.
“It’s a good feeling to know at the end of the day that I did my part in meeting our goals. And I love the feeling of being with a family on the job.”
As for the future, Nick wants to continue to grow in his career at Athens. “I see myself being an operations supervisor.”
“Nick is our utility player and is able to fill in anywhere we need him,” said Operations Manager David Albertson. “He has fit in well here.”
Joel Villa, Loader Operator
MRF/Transfer Station, City of Industry
Joel Villa joined Athens Services in 2000 when he was only 18 years old. He started as a sorter at the City of Industry materials recovery facility (MRF).
“I liked what the industry was about; most importantly, helping the environment.” He applied at Athens because it was walking distance from his home at the time.
His current position is loader operator on the tipping floor, where collection trucks dump their material. “I like what I do,” he said.
Having experience in several areas gives him the versatility to step in where needed during staff or equipment shortages. On occasion, he has had to manage loading transfer trucks, pushing loads that trucks were dumping, and multiple other tasks.
Joel has been married for 22 years and has two sons, Joel Jr., 20, and Emmanuel, 10, and a daughter, Samira, 17. He is a fan of the Barcelona Futbol Club, enjoys music, and likes to take family trips together.
Joel appreciates the opportunities he has had at Athens. In the next few years, he hopes to move into a leadership position.
Operations Manager Efrain Olmos said, “Joel became one of our best forklift operators and was often called on to assist on any loading activities. And as a tipping-floor loader operator, he has become one of the best – if not the best – operators we have.”
Enrique Ortiz, Driver
LA North Yard, Pacoima
Enrique Ortiz joined Athens in 2016. He drives a collection route in Athens’ North Central Los Angeles zone.
Enrique said his role is to provide excellent customer service. He also looks for opportunities to improve operations productivity and concentrates on safety as his main priority.
He was drawn to the waste and recycling industry by competitive hourly rates, full benefits, and the opportunity to work outdoors. He chose Athens for “its reputation as a family-owned company.”
What he likes most about his job is “having full control of my route every day and putting smiles on the faces of my customers. And the excellent supervisors and managers that work with us to correct any field issues.”
Enrique is married and has three daughters, Christina, 17, Angelica, 10, and Daniela, 4. He owns a Palomino Quarter Horse he enjoys riding on weekends.
His goal over the next few years is to become supervisor of the North Central zone.
General Manager Tomas Solis said, “Enrique embodies The Athens Way. He consistently provides excellent service to his customers and does it with a smile. He performs at such a high level that he pushes those around him to rise to the occasion. His work ethic, positive attitude, and dedication are truly remarkable.”
Gerver Rebollo, Heavy Equipment Operator
San Timoteo Landfill, Redlands
Gerver Rebollo joined Athens Services in 2013, coming from another company in the industry. A friend had told him that Athens was hiring drivers.
“He told me that Athens treats their drivers well, and I liked that.” He was hired as a driver at the San Timoteo Landfill in Redlands.
Until recently, Gerver drove roll-off trucks and water trucks at the landfill. Earlier this year, he was promoted to heavy equipment operator. Today, he drives front loaders and graders.
Gerver enjoys working outdoors. “I grew up spending my time outside. I can’t sit still for very long. I like being on the move.”
Married for 26 years, Gerver has one daughter, Anayissa, 22, and a son, Izael, 16. He enjoys gardening and tinkering with the family’s cars. And he is known for grilling amazing carne asada, tri-tip, and steak.
Gerver values the working relationships he has formed with his colleagues and supervisors. He plans to continue working at Athens until retirement.
“Athens is a good place to work and to grow. There are always opportunities to learn new things.”
Operations Supervisor Chuck White said, “Gerver is much more than an equipment operator; he’s my Swiss Army knife. I can depend on him for anything. He’s the one I go to.”
Jose Cruz Avila, Driver
LA South Yard, Torrance
Jose Cruz Avila joined Athens in 2009. He chose to work in the waste industry because it is a service that is always in demand. He also saw the chance to have a career with longevity.
Jose applied for driver positions with several companies, but most turned him down because he lacked experience. Athens was the only company to give him a shot.
His primary responsibility is to service commercial front-load bins in Redondo Beach. He enjoys working in the field and greeting people along his route. He likes team building with his coworkers and “helping to keep the environment clean.”
Jose has been married for 18 years and has three daughters, ages 15, 10, and 5. He enjoys spending family time outdoors at the park and dining out.
In the future, Jose said he might consider becoming a transfer-truck driver. But for now, “I love my job and see myself as a commercial front-load driver for Athens for a very long time.”
Route Supervisor Kam Naeole said, “Jose has a positive can-do attitude and is always willing to help when needed. He offers his years of knowledge and experience when training and onboarding our new employees in the field.”
Francisco Rosalez, Plant Maintenance Technician
Sun Valley MRF, Sun Valley
Francisco Rosalez joined Athens Services in 2014, the year that the Sun Valley materials recovery facility (MRF) opened. As a plant maintenance technician at the MRF, Francisco focuses on mechanical and electrical system maintenance, repairs, and troubleshooting.
Francisco chose to apply his skills in the waste and recycling industry because he saw the field as providing job security.
He selected Athens because it “started getting a lot of attention, and people I talked to said it was a company that was growing fast.” What he enjoys most about his work are the opportunities to grow and learn, as well as the mutual support from his colleagues.
Francisco is married and has two sons, Jayceon, 11, and Enzo, 4, and a daughter, Saleen, 7. In his free time, he enjoys bike riding and watching sports with his family.
His career goal in the next few years is to move into a management/leadership position.
Senior Maintenance Manager Randy Riberdy said of Francisco: “He is a vital part of the Maintenance Department. His abilities, along with the willingness to collaborate with our Operations team, have proven successful time and time again. He has what it takes to get to the next level in our organization. I encourage him always to be ‘Humble, Hungry and Smart.’”
Jesus Gonzales, Plant Maintenance Technician Lead
Crown Recycling, Sun Valley
Jesus Gonzales joined Crown Recycling in 2018 as a plant maintenance mechanic. His previous background was in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry.
“I wanted to try something different and use my mechanical skills,” he said. “I chose Athens because I heard it was a good company.”
His primary responsibility is to ensure that all the moving parts run efficiently and safely. That task has been especially challenging over the past year, as major construction has been underway to enclose the facility.
“Every day offers a different challenge here at Crown, and I love challenges,” Jesus said. His goal over the next few years is to pursue a supervisory role with Crown.
A father of three, Jesus competes in a weekly adult softball league. He also follows football and other sports in his spare time.
“Jesus – ‘Chuy’ as he is affectionately known – is a major force at the Crown facility,” said Shop Maintenance Manager Randy Riberdy. “It has been my pleasure to see him grow in his current lead position, and I look forward to his next venture. His dedication to the company is indeed notable and revered by all at Crown.”
Danny Espinoza, Commercial Roll-off Driver
Salt Lake Yard, City of Industry
Danny Espinoza has been with Athens since 2008. He drives roll-off trucks for commercial and industrial customers who require larger containers than standard bins.
Danny serves Monterey Park in the San Gabriel Valley and the South Bay communities of Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Palos Verdes Estates.
He said he enjoys serving his communities. He believes in the importance of building relationships with his customers.
“My goal is to take care of the customers. I always greet them with a smile and work as safely as possible.”
He takes pride in helping customers to meet their needs. “I communicate with my customers to see if there is anything else I could have helped with and ensure their expectations were met.”
Danny is a proud father of four and grandfather of four. He says he is motivated by his family. And he describes himself as a “HUGE!” Dallas Cowboys fan.
He shares his enthusiasm and his work ethic with his coworkers. “I encourage them to do their best, work safely, and always have those they love in mind.”
Operations Manager Octavio Covarrubias said, “Danny is a positive presence and strives to go above and beyond.”
Athens is pleased to salute these and all of our employees during Waste and Recycling Workers Week. They embody the best of what Athens stands for: Service, People, Environment. That’s The Athens Way.