Alumni, Campus wide

Paglia ’11 lives life to the fullest

By Jan Joslin | March 31, 2022
John, a place kicker and kickoff specialist for CSU football from 2007-2011, has been married to his wife, Kimberly, for eight years. Photo provided

Place kicker and kickoff specialist for the CSU Bucs from 2007-2011 John Paglia III ’11 uses something he learned from Coach Chuck Kelly on a hot summer day in his day-to-day business dealings. 

Kelly got in Paglia’s face in the 100+ degree heat and yelled “one for one” when Paglia was stuck in a rut with field goal kicks. Paglia said, “I had no idea what he meant. Later that day he explained. If I fail once, it doesn’t automatically mean I’ll fail again. Just as important, if I was successful, I shouldn’t ride that success. I needed to focus on every opportunity and let it stand on its own. I still go one for one in life today.”

Paglia, who is president of IMG, the parent company of Florida Express Environmental, says it’s probably no surprise to anyone who knew him that he joined the family business after graduation. “The sole reason of inspiration was the ability to return the dedication and loyalty my parents provided for me in my first 21 years of life,” he said. “They taught me if I wanted something, to go work for it. My dad always told me I was destined for greatness, and it still rings in my head today to motivate myself to continue to push through any challenging situation.”

Two days after graduation, Paglia was back in his native Florida immersed in the day-to-day operations of the family business. Up at 2 a.m., he drove an 11-hour route on a portable toilet, roll off, front load, or residential waste collection truck. This was followed by managerial duties and planning for the next day. He kept this schedule Monday through Friday and a half day every Saturday.

Look at these Baby Bucs. The Paglias have three young sons: John IV, 6, Roman, 2, and Rocco, 5. Photo provided

Recently, Paglia was named to Florida Trend’s Florida 500, which recognizes Florida’s most influential business leaders. Florida Express Environmental is one of the largest private waste and recycling haulers in the state of Florida. When he was growing up, his father and uncle built and sold waste hauling companies. Paglia is looking to do something different. 

He said, “I want people to be proud to suit up for our team. I want it to be a career option, where they can earn an excellent living, work with men and women that respect each other, have opportunities for growth, and retire from.” Some of his innovations are exploring the transition of their fleet to alternative fuel sources such as electric, biodiesel, or hydrogen. They are also in the process of adding cameras with artificial intelligence that will continue to evolve their safety program and provide metrics that can be used to drive profits.

Paglia with his three sons. Photo provided

Building culture is important at Florida Express Environmental. “We do not refer to employees working for us,” said Paglia. “It’s working with us.” This is especially important to Paglia because the waste industry is in the top five deadliest occupations in all industries. “Unfocused poor performance here is life and death,” he said. “We push very hard to keep safety our number one priority.”

Paglia works hard to offer excellent benefits to his employees that include the chance to earn additional bonuses. “Most of our employees are the men and women physically performing the collection of waste and recycling,” he said. “We motivate these men and women by providing them the newest, cleanest, and optioned out collection trucks the industry can provide. In doing so, the men and women take pride in the fleet knowing we set out every day to perform professionally by professionals. We do not just hire anyone; they must earn the opportunity to be on our team and that pairs with our culture of a family, once you’re in, you’re in.” 

The Paglia team also plays hard. Paglia is a triplet and also has two younger brothers. “There was friendly competition from an early age,” he said. One of Paglia’s favorite hobbies blossomed into the family entering fishing tournaments. As the wins piled up, his parents founded Executive Decision Sportfishing. 

“We have grown in and out of boats as the tournament victories keep accumulating,” said Paglia. “We find ourselves continuing to enter larger, higher stake tournaments. Just like the garbage business, being on a professional team has more work than you would imagine. There is constant maintenance on the boat, gear, evolving technology, fishing tactics, safety equipment, and constant monitoring of where the bite is best.”

Paglia credits his family upbringing and his four years of development at CSU with making him the man he is today. He and his wife, Kimberly, have been married eight years and have three sons, John IV, 6, Rocco, 5, and Roman, 2. He said, “Raising my family with set principles, guided by faith, we do our best to live every day to the fullest.”

He motivates himself daily with the thought – when God’s plan for me ends on earth, how will I be remembered? He tells others, if you aren’t proud of the answer, it’s never too late to implement change.

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