Runner-up Service Tech of the Year was surprised and honored by industry award


When you’re attending a work meeting, without warning you’re called up front and your picture is projected on a big screen, it can be a little bit of a shock. That’s how it was for service technician Thomas Horne of Mr. John/Russell Reid of Keasbey, New Jersey, recently.

During a regular monthly meeting, Horne learned that he had been named runner-up for the PSAI Service Tech of the Year award.

“I was ecstatic,” says Horne, 39, who has worked at the company for 11 years. “I was excited that somebody even put me in that category.” Horne even thought it might be a joke when his manager Steve Bisbee handed him a plaque; he didn’t even know he had been nominated.

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“To be nominated at that large of scale … to me, it’s like all that hard work … I get to work on time … all that pays off,” Horne says.

Horne, a New Jersey native, previously held a few other jobs before landing in the portable sanitation industry. “I went into tractor trailer work; I got my CDL, I was over-the-road driving,” Horne says, but with a young child to support, he wanted something more stable and reliable.

That led him to an opening at Mr. John/Russell Reid, a large waste management firm serving most of New Jersey, all of New York City and portions of neighboring Pennsylvania and Delaware.

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Horne starts his morning around 5 a.m. or 6 a.m., mostly running routes by himself — delivering or pumping units, whatever they need him to do. “I enjoy it,” he says. And after 11 years, he has it down to his own kind of science. “It’s hard work, but over the years, you pick up a routine,” he says.

But long hours and hard work aren’t daunting for Horne, and that’s something he’d like to pass on to newcomers to the field. “Don’t let that discourage you. It’s not always intense,” he admits. “Some of that work will be hard, but you’ll get into a routine.”

Perhaps one of the nicest accolades Horne received with his honor was an unexpected handwritten letter from James Coon, the winner of PSAI’s Service Tech of the Year award.

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Coon, from Bill’s Plumbing and Sanikan in Sequim, Washington, had planned to meet Horne at the PSAI Annual Convention this year. But when they didn’t meet, Coon put pen to paper and sent a heartfelt message that said, in part, “This job that we do is not for everyone and takes much patience and attention to detail. … It’s hard to find a worker that cares and is passionate about what they do these days. … Congrats to you, Thomas, and keep up the great work you do.”

Horne was surprised and thrilled to get the letter. “To get a letter from a guy who’s doing it just like I’m doing it, I was just ecstatic. I was blown away.”

Horne has made waste management his home for 11 years; it’s been a positive position for him — he started when his son was young and now he’s ready to send him off to college.

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“I’m going to do it long as I can do it,” says Horne, proud of his recognition. “Everybody wants to be appreciated.” 


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