April 9, 2024

Driven to Succeed, Trash Collector Moves Upward to Lead Waste Management

In 2003, Jerry Brown, II, began at the City as an entry-level waste management operator. After multiple career progressions, he was recently promoted to lead the division.

Jerry Brown

Growing up, Jerry “JB” Brown had an insider view of a career as a trash collector. For more than 30 years, his dad, Jerry Brown, worked in the City of Virginia Beach’s Waste Management division.  

After high school, JB went a different direction by starting out in construction. But the drawbacks of that choice were hard to ignore. “When the weather is bad, you don’t get paid. That was not how I wanted to start my adult life,” he said. 

Seeking a more consistent schedule and paycheck, JB spent several years applying to be a driver at the City where his dad worked. After multiple tries, he was offered an entry-level position as a groundsman working on the back of the truck. 

Running a waste collection route was more challenging than JB expected. “Growing up watching my dad, I didn’t realize how physically demanding the work was. But really, it is a fast-paced, high intensity job,” he said.  
After earning his commercial driver’s license, JB advanced to the next level of responsibility as a driver. Three years later, he advanced again. 

Looking back, he recognizes the challenges of the work are what kept him in the driver’s seat. “It’s manual labor, but to have the opportunity to learn a new truck, to learn my routes and my customer base, to progress — all of that appealed to me and kept my interest long enough to seek more skills and maybe turn it into something,” he said. 

When years of being a trash collector became routine and promotions seemed scarce, JB sought a change. He began driving trucks for Beach Operations, a different division in Public Works. 

“I had a wonderful time working with those guys and doing work that was similar but different,” JB said. “Being responsible for that small portion of Virginia Beach was awesome. I loved every minute of it.” 
Soon after, in 2018, a supervisor position opened in Waste Management. JB was chosen for the role and has worked there ever since.  

“I was fortunate to be selected for that job. It accelerated my growth in learning how to supervise people instead of just getting the job done in the truck,” he said.  

Switching to the leadership team came with its challenges. But JB eventually found his footing. “My philosophy is that we don’t perform substandard,” he said. “We give our best every time we go out.” 

Jerry Brown at his desk

After three years as a supervisor, JB was promoted to superintendent of waste collection. The following year he was promoted to waste management operations manager. Shortly after, he was asked to fill big shoes in an interim capacity when the division leader retired.   

Following nearly a year leading the division, and exactly 21 years after beginning as a groundsman, JB was officially promoted to waste management administrator last month. In this role, he oversees all of Waste Management, which includes Collections, the Landfill, West Neck Recycling Center and the Administration Office. 

As a division leader and Virginia Beach local, JB feels the weight of responsibility entrusted to him by City leadership and residents. “What I think about is, how am I leaving this organization that I’ve been charged with maintaining?” he said. “I really want to succeed and do things the right way.” 

Steering his motivation are the conversations he has with his dad about the 50+ years of experience they share. “I hear the joy in his voice when he talks about this job and what it means to him for me to be in this position,” he said. “What drives me now is I really want to make my dad proud.” 

Find YOUR best job yet. Check out current employment opportunities with the City of Virginia Beach at virginiabeach.gov/careers.

Your Best Job Yet Banner

Contact Information

Keep Reading

See All Posts