A decidedly atypical garbage kingpin, Torres is also far from the typical boss. Listening to him do shout-outs to his workers, who don stylish uniforms - black pants, SDT-logo tops, and an SDT hat (Torres insists that his garbage staff display the same polished look as his hotel staff ) - he seems more like a musician connecting with his band members (okay, maybe sound crew) than like a garbage boss surveying his staff. Torres emanates - on the surface, at least - a "we're all in this together" vibe, insisting he will never ask a staff member to perform a task he himself is not willing to do.
"You just don't expect to see a guy who looks like that and is worth all that money being out there on the garbage trucks," says George Segers, co-owner of Tommy's Flowers. "But he is, and he's doing a fantastic job. The French Quarter has never been cleaner - and that includes pre-Katrina!" It's a sentiment shared by most French Quarter residents and shop owners, as well as by the city itself, which made Torres grand marshal of a Mardi Gras parade honoring SDT and others for their behind-the-scenes work for the city.
Though he collects the kudos, Torres knows good people are essential to his success. Every month, he runs an ad in the local paper to highlight the employee of the month - an honor that comes with a $500 bonus. His staff earn more than they would at any other waste-management company in the state. And virtually every employee is local. "They approach their jobs," says Torres, "as an investment in the city's rebirth." To that end, Torres is now recycling at his transfer station and is in the process of testing a biodiesel truck. If it's a success, the entire fleet will go green.