Route Driver of the Year: Raymond Geary Miller, Southern Refreshment Services

It doesn’t matter if a vending company is an independent or a national operation. Or if it uses handheld computers or paper route tickets on the route. Raymond Geary Miller has worked for different vending operations in his 38 years, and he knows that the route driver’s commitment to serving his customers is what makes a company successful.

Miller, winner of the 2009 Automatic Merchandiser 6th Annual Route Driver of the Year Award, sponsored by Kraft Vending & OCS, loves being a route driver. Which is why he won the annual contest in which companies from all over the country submitted route driver applicants. “I’m a people person,” he explained.

Miller was nominated by Dan Hart, owner of Southern Refreshment Services, based in Tucker, Ga. Miller was chosen from a field of more than 150 route drivers nominated by their supervisors for the chance to compete in the national contest. He was selected based on a numerical score that consists of the following areas: number of years as a driver, number of machines serviced, number of miles traveled, accidents and citations, number of days missed, speed, thoroughness, likability, compliments, appearance, truck condition, empty spirals and sales.

Miller is among the route drivers noted for going above and beyond the call of duty. Company owner Dan Hart, in nominating Miller, noted that one morning Miller fell down in the company parking lot and severely bruised his face. Instead of taking the day off to attend to his injury, Miller sought help from his colleagues and got back on his daily work schedule. Hart noted that Miller’s attitude is that the customer is first, the company second, and everything else takes care of itself.

TO DO THE JOB RIGHT, THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS

With as much experience as he has on the route, Miller knows he could get his route done in half the time he presently takes servicing his customers. But to do the job right, there is no cutting corners. Even with the benefit of a handheld computer, which Miller has had for two and a half years, he must pay attention to every detail in his locations, and this takes a certain amount of time.

Miller was chosen from four quarterly winners in 2009 to win the national award, which includes an all-expense paid trip for two to the National Automatic Merchandising Association OneShow in Chicago, a $1,500 flat screen TV, a story in the magazine, and an engraved plaque.

Miller became a vending route driver for Servomation in 1971 following military service and technical training with General Electric. He has worked with various management teams over the years. The companies he has worked for include Servomation, Service America, Canteen, and his current employer, Southern Refreshment Services, which is a Canteen franchisee.

A VARIED CAREER IN VENDING

In addition to working as a route driver, Miller has worked as a route supervisor and an assistant warehouse manager over the years. He has supervised as many as 23 employees. He always missed the independence of being on the route, so he returned to the route driver position in 1997, and he has remained there ever since.

“I’m very satisfied being a route man,” he said. He enjoys his independence and being able to interact with people in various work environments.

While the handheld computer gives management more data on product turns, the driver also provides valuable input. Miller has noticed consumers buying more products that are part of a healthy lifestyle.

His experience also gives him a long-range view of the current economy. “The economy will turn around,” he said.

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