2011 Winner Steve Jenkins, Midlantic Vending, Moorestown, N.J.

Steve Jenkins is the kind of route driver operators want to have if they hope to use new technology.

Jenkins, the 2011 Route Driver of the Year, sponsored by Kraft Vending & OCS, stands out from the crowd for his positive attitude, dedication to excellence on the route and leadership qualities.

He was choosen from other 2011 quarterly finalist who were nominated online. The selections were based on comments and a numerical score in areas such as: years as a driver, number of machines serviced, miles traveled, accidents, truck/machine condition, and sales.

A calling for vending

Jenkins dreamed of a vending career while working for UPS. When an opening became available at Midlantic Vending, Jenkins jumped at the chance and has been a route driver at the company for six years.

“I work with a great bunch of guys, so that makes it easy to go to work,” said Jenkins. He loves making his customers happy too, with clean, well stocked vending equipment. “I’m sort of OCD (obsessive, compulsive disorder),” said Jenkins, “so everything I do has to be perfect in my eyes or I can’t walk away from it.”

Jenkins has noticed the industry changing during his time in the business. When he started, there weren’t any credit card readers on the machines he serviced. By 2011, at least half of the machines had them. He’s also seen bill recyclers installed. “We’re using them; it’s a great thing,” he said.

The selection of healthier foods has progressively grown as well, noted Jenkins, whether it’s fat-free ice cream or organic products.

What’s most outstanding about Jenkins is his desire to learn every facet of the industry. “I love the opportunity I’ve been given at Midlantic,” he said. “It’s the opportunity to learn the industry…that’s exciting to me. You can never learn too much.”

And his desire to learn hasn’t gone unnoticed. When the company decided to install 1,000 remote machine monitoring units and 300 cashless units in three months, Jenkins stepped up to take an active role. He worked weekends and after his normal route duties to assist in installs and training others to do so.

“It has been a tremendous help to the company and most importantly has set a great leadership example to the rest of the staff,” said Alan Drazen, vice president of Midlantic and the person who originally nominated Jenkins. “With little outside help this (was) a huge task.”

Jenkins continues to shine as a route driver even after being recognized by both his company and Automatic Merchandiser. It’s obvious he’s self-motivated to be the best he can be, an asset to the company and the industry.