For more than 36 years, Jim Milton has been delivering products and smiles for Bridgeview, Ill.-based Fox Vending, Inc. In recognition of his exceptional customer service, Milton was recently named Automatic Merchandiser’s 2012 Route Driver of the Year.
Jennifer Fox, president of Fox Vending and nominator, struggled with a way to show appreciation for such a dedicated employee, wondering how to repay someone for so many years.
“Milton is not someone who has ever required accolades; he’s a humble kind of guy,” Fox said. “He does his job so well every day because he takes personal pride in doing so, not so he can be told how great he is or get a pat on the back.”
Ultimately, Fox believes winning this contest was a fitting reward. Nominations were scored on years as a driver, number of machines serviced, miles traveled, accidents and citations, sick days, speed, thoroughness, likability, number of compliments, friendliness, appearance, condition of truck, empty spirals and sales.
In for the long-haul
Milton has been involved in the vending industry since graduating high school. He began working in a factory for a vending operation that has since gone out of business. When they began down-sizing, Milton decided to search for a new position, and found a listing for an opening at Fox Vending.
During his 36 years of service, Milton has declined offers for management positions to continue doing what he loves — running a route.
Being a driver allows Milton to work independently and plan his route, all while providing customer service. Due to his efficiency and grasp of inventory needs, he often returns to the warehouse without a single case left on the truck.
“It’s kind of like being my own boss,” Milton said. “Nobody bothers me and they let me do my job. I enjoy getting up in the morning and going to work every day.”
During his time in the vending industry, Milton has experienced a lot of changes.
One change Milton has witnessed is customer-loyalty, citing the loss of a 30-year account for slightly better prices: “It’s very competitive now. When I started, there used to be loyalty with customers. If you had good customers they would stay with you, but times have gotten tighter over the years.” Milton contributes the increase in competition to healthy vending and greater product variety.
“There used to be only nine selections in a candy machine” Milton said. “Now they’ve got glass-front machines with a whole variety of products to choose from.”
While he admits market shifts have made his job more difficult, Milton feels new technology designed to help the driver and the customer is the key to navigating these trends. His willingness to welcome new technology, such as implementation of vending management software, points to his dedication to the future of the operation.
Milton will be recognized by Mondelez International, as well as Automatic Merchandiser, as the 2012 Annual Route Driver of the Year winner at the NAMA OneShow held in Las Vegas, Nev. April 24 to 26.