Dedication to excellence: Recognizing the 2023 Route Driver of the Year winner and runners-up

April 24, 2024
Mondelēz and Automatic Merchandiser are pleased to recognize the 2023 Route Driver of the Year winner and runners-up. The award puts the spotlight on the dedicated, hardworking route professionals who remain the backbone of the vending, micro market and office coffee service industry.

Snack leader Mondelēz International Inc. and Automatic Merchandiser teamed up again last year to present the Route Driver of the Year contest. We would like to thank our readers for participating in the program, which received nearly 40 outstanding nominations.

Winner: Peter Dogoldogol, Dependable Break Room Solutions

The Route Driver of the Year winner, Peter Dogoldogol, has been in the vending industry for over 20 years, and he received several nominations by his colleagues at Dependable Break Room Solutions, which serves a large area of Southern California. Dogoldogol services about 100 to 150 vending machines as well as micro markets, office coffee service and pantries, traveling over 500 miles per week.

“Peter, a seasoned route driver with an impressive track record spanning more than a quarter-century, embodies the pinnacle of exceptional customer service at every stop along his journey,” shared Anibal Beltran, director of operations at Dependable Break Room Solutions. “His dedicated commitment to fostering positive interactions has become a hallmark of his presence. Elevating his role beyond the mere duties of a driver, Peter consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty, weaving a tapestry of extraordinary care for each and every client. Peter is a paragon of time efficiency, a true master even on the most demanding days of his heavy workload. In the realm of route audits, Peter stands as an unwavering beacon of accuracy. Each assessment reveals his precision. His performance is a shining example of dedication, as he effortlessly navigates through challenges and intricacies, leaving no room for error. Peter is not just a member of our team, but an embodiment of our core values, a living testament to the power of dedication and unwavering commitment.”

Dogoldogol’s dedication to excellence extends beyond his immediate responsibilities, as he also imparts his wealth of knowledge to guide and inspire new drivers. And, he has contributed immeasurably to retaining a multitude of clients.

“For each route that Peter has had over the years, the one thing we hear from his customers is how much they enjoy having him as their driver,” said Tom De Paola, director of client relations and sales. “He makes a personal connection with everyone. He takes complete ownership of his route. Peter genuinely cares about his customers. He is in constant contact with our team, asking for product swaps and products the customer needs.”

Ruben Cortez, the director of purchasing with Dependable Break Room Solutions, also shared how Dogoldogol takes great pride in his work and especially in providing the best customer service possible: “He goes beyond his job title of just being a route driver. He is a true professional in every sense of the word. Peter will take his time to examine every piece of equipment on his route to ensure it is working properly. If a customer is having an issue with a piece of equipment out in the field, Peter will do his best to troubleshoot it before having to make a service call for a technician to come out and service the equipment. If Peter gets the said equipment fixed, he will go to the customer, show the customer that the equipment is now working properly and show them what the issue was and explain to them how to avoid this issue going forward to the customer.”

Steve Tomes, general manager, also shared that “Peter understands guest service and always makes that his focus while in the accounts he services. Regardless of his daily challenges on the route, he never compromises when addressing the needs of our clients.”

And, Romario Medina, manager of merchandising and consolidation, added: “Peter is a hardworking, honest, dependable person with a great personality and a joyous attitude. He is a perfect candidate for the 2023 Route Driver of the Year award. Peter is loved, not just by the customers because of his wonderful customer service, he is also loved by everyone he works with.”

2023 Route Driver of the Year Runners-Up

Tom Almendarez, All Star Services Inc.

Tom Almendarez from Fort Gratiot, Michigan, has been with All Star Services since 2014. “During this time, he has become the standard by which all other drivers are compared to,” shared Fred Kading, Northern district manager. “He has a massive route that he services to the highest degree. Tom is loved by his customers and revered by his peers.”

Almendarez services vending, micro markets, OCS and pantries, while maintaining a level of accuracy that has earned him the position of top trainer in the company when onboarding new employees.

“His route without wavering is the highest volume route in the company, based on a single-person, five-day-a-week route,” Kading continued. “His work is impeccable, and customer service is second to none. In his 10 years with our company, his attendance and safety record are flawless. Tom takes complete ownership of his route, staying engaged in combating food waste, low-volume accounts and service intervals. He is an exceptional worker who has given years of impeccable, reliable service.”

Almendarez added, “I’m grateful for the recognition as a runner-up for Route Driver of the Year, and I want to express my thanks to Fred for the nomination.”

Karen Wright, Imperial Vending LLC

Karen Wright started her vending career in 1994 and has grown with the company throughout the changes of being CM Vending, Jackson Brothers Vending, and now Imperial Vending in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Wright services 100 to 150 vending machines and micro markets. She is a dependable, reliable and respected driver at Imperial Vending and well-known by her customers for her consistency, communication and especially the excellent service she provides them. Wright also has several tenure awards as well as perfect attendance plaques.

“Karen will service an account twice in one day just to make sure they have enough to get them through the weekend,” said Amy Metcalf, operations manager at Imperial Vending. “In my experience, drivers such as Karen are rare, and that is why I am so excited for the chance to give her the recognition she deserves.”


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