The NAWT annual meeting features an award show celebrating industry professionals.
Hank Schlomka, whose family full-service wastewater hauling business has operated in Minnesota since 1939, was presented with the Ralph Macchio Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual meeting of the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT). The ceremony took place at the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport (WWETT) Show in Indianapolis.
The wastewater industry's highest honor was presented to Schlomka by Macchio and Bob Kendall of COLE Publishing, host of the WWETT Show. Macchio and Kendall were the first two winners of the award. NAWT also presented its Excellence in Service Award to Pam Van Delden, of Van Delden Wastewater Systems in Texas. NAWT Education Committee chairman Jim Anderson also announced that Henry Kneiszel won the William Hapchuk Memorial Scholarship. Kneiszel, a student at the University of Minnesota Morris, wrote a play about septic system consumer education.
Macchio lauded Schlomka for his long service in the industry and spinning off his business into three distinct wastewater companies now operated by family members. Schlomka is familiar to many in the wastewater industry, as he has attended more than 40 COLE Publishing trade shows, including 35 annual shows carrying the Pumper & Cleaner Expo and WWETT names.
"I feel close to him because he resembles my uncle who gave me my work ethic,'' Macchio says of Schlomka, 75, who brought his wife, Carol, and extended family to the ceremony. "Hank represents that family tradition that seems to be so prevalent in our industry, passing the businesses from generation to generation.''
"It's a real honor to give this award to Hank,'' adds Kendall. "He has been a very generous person for many years. We see this as the pinnacle – the greatest honor the industry has to offer. Hank's is truly a family operation and he carries on the tradition of providing quality service.''
Schlomka's father, Carl "Henry'' Schlomka, started the family business in 1939. Hank took over in 1968 and ran the Twin Cities-area business for many years before the younger generation took over.
In other news, NAWT President Jeff Rachlin reported that the association has stepped up education efforts in recent years. To date, NAWT has provided Vacuum Truck Training to 291 people, Operation and Maintenance Training to 232, Inspector Training to 1,349 and Installer Training to 74. He invited members to look into offering these courses to wastewater professionals in their home states.