Quarterly Winner Brad Thomas, A Matter of Taste, Northridge, Calif.

too often, the daily grind of a job gets employees down. They become unenthusiastic and uninspired to go the extra mile. Brad Thomas is not one of those employees. For 30 years he’s worked as a route driver, most recently at Northridge, Calif.-based A Matter of Taste, and is known for going above and beyond the common place in both work ethic and personal interactions.

“Still to this day, after he services any account, he runs a dollar bill through each validator to make sure they are all working,” said Cindy Welch, merchandising manager at A Matter of Taste.

She also is personally impressed by Thomas. When she used to bring her 4-year old son to work, Thomas not only let the boy into his truck, but also had a present for him. “I am very excited for Brad and couldn’t think of a more deserving person to have won this,” Welch said.

Positive vending experience a must

Thomas fills every coin mech 100 percent and separates the collected bills into 1s and 5s so it’s easier for the money room. He writes notes about location preference if he leaves on vacation and he maintains a 0.01 percent yearly over/short on his machines. Thomas was an easy pick for the first quarter route driver of the year award sponsored by Kraft Vending & OCS and Automatic Merchandiser. Winners are judged based on a score in the following areas: years as a driver, number of machines serviced, miles traveled, accidents and citations, days missed, thoroughness, customer compliments, truck condition, empty spirals, and sales.

“I’ve been in the vending business for 28 years now and no other vending route man does what Brad Thomas does,” said John Costa, vice president of operations at A Matter of Taste.

Quality customer service always paramount

Thomas’ attitude toward work is especially inspiring considering he became a route driver in 1981 through a relative’s friendship with another driver. Thomas values customer service, striving to provide it from merchandising with clean, full machines to building relationships with the employees at each location.

Throughout the years, Thomas has seen consumers stay true to their favorite snacks. “It’s funny,” he said, “Many items that were popular when I started ... are still just as popular today.”

Glassfront machines have had the biggest impact, explained Thomas, because customers love to see what they are buying and the selection available is extensive.