Waste Management opens training facility Phoenix Open

Among the amenities are a 30,000-square-foot maintenance shop, a 10-acre driving course, multiple classrooms, labs and technician workshops with different tools, and real trucks and machines to simulate life as a Waste Management driver or technician.

Waste Management already had a sizeable footprint in Arizona, sponsoring events all over the Valley including the Waste Management Phoenix Open each year in Scottsdale.

But, the company’s impact grew even more with the opening of its second Driver and Technician Training Center in Glendale.

Several executives, trainers and employees cut a ceremonial ribbon on June 20 to celebrate the opening of the large center, which will train technicians and drivers for Waste Management branches around North America.

The facility is located on a 13-acre property. Among the amenities are a 30,000-square-foot maintenance shop, a 10-acre driving course, multiple classrooms, labs and technician workshops with different tools, and real trucks and machines to simulate life as a Waste Management driver or technician.

Waste Management executives realized months ago there was a need for another facility. Drivers and technicians were previously flown to the sister training facility in Florida, where they were running out of space and delaying the training process.

Tamla Oates-Forney, chief human resources officer for Waste Management, said Arizona, and Glendale specifically, was a great choice.

“We wanted to have a dispersed geographic footprint so the travel could be a little easier for people. And then the Florida facility was overflowing, so we opened this one to accelerate the on-boarding process and get the people out working,” she said.

Newly hired technicians and drivers will go through two-week training courses, working around 10 hours a day in the various shops and classrooms, while studying and living at a nearby condo in their off time, followed by a series of final tests for certification.

It is estimated that the training facility will host around 2,500 new employees each year.

Arizona Training Center Manager Ryan Cook said the staff and equipment are part of the company’s “safety and people first” culture, teaching vehicle inspections, safety rules, procedures, proper lifting technique and Department of Transportation certification, among other courses.

Furthermore, he gets great pleasure out of seeing the new hires, including those with no prior experience at all, look like experts by the end of the course.

“I love developing people, building people. I have the ability to influence, with my team, that many careers each year, doing things the right way. I get a lot of joy from that,” he said.

Not only does the staff at Waste Management feel the facility will help produce quality employees around the country, but it will attract already-proficient potential hires to choose the company for their next career step.

“It really is a huge competitive advantage and a differentiator for us in the industry,” Oates-Forney said. “I’ve talked to several people that went through the training, and also have worked for competitors, that say it’s unlike anything they’ve seen before.”