That, plus 27 years on the job as a refuse truck driver with more than 2 million accident-free miles, earned Brett Popke the title: Industrial Truck Driver of the Year.
Popke, who drives 200 miles a day in his work for Republic Services, a refuse hauler, beat out more than 10,000 other applications submitted to Environmental Industry Associations, a national solid waste management organization.
Dave Petrick, operations manager, has worked at Republic Services since Popke started.
"It couldn't have been a better person they picked," he said.
Popke is dedicated to his company and in his work and his personal life, Petrick said.
A dozen letters, including one from his 17-year-old daughter, Megan, accompanied the application and attest to Popke's dedication.
"Everyone has to check the boxes and fill in the blanks," said Paul Rasmusson, sales manager. "It's all the other stuff, the letters from the customers that made the difference."
His daughter provided her view for the judges.
"Not only is he a wonderful driver, but he is also a wonderful person. He is a very dependable, strong, and hardworking man," Megan Popke wrote in the letter that accompanied the application.
When her mother died of cancer in 2008, her dad took over both parenting jobs for her and her brother.
"He always put my brother and I before himself, and he did everything he could to make sure we were provided for," she wrote.
That's what working hard at work has always been about, so he can spend time with his family and friends, which includes his fiancée Chris Hand and her two children.
With the award came a new vehicle for Republic Services, a brand new roll-off truck with all the bells and whistles — including the name "Brett" on the driver's side door.
He also was awarded a trip to Las Vegas for two, where the national trade show and conference was this year and he participated in a safety training video to be used nationwide.
But Popke's safety and success isn't just about him, he said.
"We're all a team here," he said. "In my heart, it will always be a team effort to get there. I"m only a little part of what actually goes on."