Quarterly Winner: Tony Araujo, Imperial Coffee and Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Making deliveries in a city of 4 million has its challenges, but this quarter’s driver of the year makes it look easy. For the past 30 years, Tony Arujo has been a customer service representative (CSR), the company’s term for OCS driver, at Toronto, Canada-based Imperial Coffee and Services Inc.

“He has been our downtown CSR, looking after our largest and most prestigious customers for longer than we can remember,” said Mark Steiner, president, Imperial Coffee and Services. “He is beloved by his accounts, and year after year receives the most customer accolades.”

In three decades, Arujo has missed less than five days of work and is one of the first people in the office every morning. Steiner brags that Arujo never resubmits an invoice and every task he’s given is completed in a professional and timely fashion. “Tony is an absolute pleasure to be around and is a true professional in every sense of the word,” added Steiner. “It’s not just a job to him.”

Mark Steiner is the son of Fred Steiner, the company’s founder. Fred Steiner founded the regional Ontario OCS association and was an active member in the National Coffee Service Association in the U.S., winning the prestigious silver service award, before the association became part of the National Automatic Merchandising Association.

Self-motivated employee

Arujo drives a route in downtown Toronto, handling traffic and high-end customers with ease. It’s the independence of the job that appeals to Arujo the most. “I’m by myself out there and do what I have to do,” said Arujo. “I go at my own pace and do it how I want to do it.” That includes being attentive to customers’ needs and doing the best job he can. It’s no wonder he’s won the 2011 fourth quarter driver contest sponsored by Kraft Vending & OCS based on an online nomination process at VendingMarketWatch.com. Drivers are given a numerical score based on years as a driver, miles traveled, accidents and citations, thoroughness, customer compliments, truck condition, and sales.

Growing with changes in the industry

In September of 1981, Arujo was looking for a job. He had no idea he would find a career in OCS and watch the industry advance with new brewing technologies. “When I started, there were just frack packs,” he said. “Now there’s Flavia machines, K-Cups, and machines that grind the coffee beans right there. The technology has come a long way.”

He also noted the expansion opportunities of the business. When he started, Imperial had six route drivers. Now it’s a large, multi-branch company and carries much more than coffee. Arujo’s customers can choose from many ancillary items as well, like soft drinks and other beverages to paper and cleaning supplies. “Over the years, that side (of the business has) grown to cater to customers,” added Arujo. “It’s one-stop shopping.”

Arujo isn’t all work and no fun, however. “I like playing hockey and baseball, but my passion is riding my motorcycle,” said Arujo. He’s traveled extensively on his bike from British Colombia to Colorado. “It’s exhilarating,” he said.