Have No Fear, Loyal Readers. I’m Still Here!

By now you’ve realized that Automatic Merchandiser has undergone a redesign. We are brighter, easier to read and packing a new attitude. In keeping with our new look, our brilliant and talented graphic designer, Tracy Hegg, informed me that it was time for a new picture (since the previous picture was taken in 1994).

Now, I rather liked being eternally young — but design prevailed — voila! Behold the new (old), still opinionated, me! I hope you enjoy our new look and new approach to our industry.

A route driver to remember
It’s a joy to kick off our new design with the 2nd Annual Route Driver of the Year winner on our cover. Romie “Lester” Fields embodies all of the qualities that make good route drivers great.

These qualities are excellence in sales performance, professionalism and proficiency, safety record, customer service, and unique outstanding qualities. The winner is determined by our panel of judges based on a numerical rating in all of these areas.

Lester Fields will receive his awards and be honored at a cocktail reception hosted by the Route Driver of the Year sponsor, Kraft Vending
& OCS, on the first evening of the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s National Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

Kraft rises to the occasion
Many thanks, again, to Kraft Vending & OCS for their generosity in sponsoring the Route Driver of the Year program and in hosting the award ceremony.

Many thanks, too, to those vending and OCS company supervisors and owners who nominated their very deserving route drivers.
As one of the judges in the competition, I can tell you that determining this year’s winner was no easy choice. The caliber of nominees was incredible, which makes our winner, Lester Fields, that much more spectacular.

Recognizing excellence is important
One of the most rewarding things about this award is that it reminds us of our industry’s many outstanding performers.

As a responsible trade magazine, much of our time and energy is spent identifying the industry’s challenges and potential solutions for improvement. But it is also important that we not lose sight of the many excellent people that embody the best practices. They offer great inspiration to all of us.

Nominations came in far and wide
I am proud of the fact that we had so many nominations — from such a variety of vending and OCS operations. Heartfelt nominations came in from the smallest operations with one or two routes, right up to the very large companies, like our winner’s employer, Compass Group North America.
Granted, most of you waited until the last minute to get in your nominations — don’t get me started on that — but you took the time to send them in! It shows a growing appreciation for your route drivers, perhaps your most important employees.

The Automatic Merchandiser staff extends their sincere congratulations to Lester Fields and his family. And to all of the route drivers who were nominated for this award, you are all winners in our book.