A panel of judges assembled by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Operations, Equipment, and Safety Committee selected the 2006 Driver of
A panel of judges assembled by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Operations, Equipment, and Safety Committee selected the 2006 Driver of the Year and three finalists based on competence and service skills; number of years without an on- or off-site accident; and, customer and colleague testimonials. Awards will be presented to Driver of the Year Bobby Dennis, of Georgia-based Lafarge Southeast, and finalists at this month’s NRMCA Annual Convention in La Jolla, Calif. As cosponsor in the Driver of the Year Awards program Û now in its 11th year Û Concrete Products joins NRMCA and the OES Committee in congratulating these valued individuals.
LAFARGE N. AMERICA SOUTHEAST REGION ALPHARETTA, GEORGIA
Common sense, as he describes it, has served Lithonia Ready Mix driver Bobby Dennis well since he first walked through the company doors in 1972. Celebrating his 34th safe-driving anniversary in 2006, Dennis attributes that success to taking it day by day÷and leaving worries at home to avoid distraction as well as safety principles learned years ago in performing the job. His golden rules include: (1) Surrounding oneself with a cushion of safety; (2) Driving five miles under the speed limit in the city and not exceeding 55 mph on highways; (3) Walking job sites before driving trucks into the area; and, (4) Asking for help Û from salesmen, management, or co-workers Û as needed.
Throughout his career, Dennis observed these guidelines unstintingly, even when Lafarge introduced the Pay by Load program in 2003, replacing pay by the hour. When other drivers were tempted to cut corners on safety to maximize the number of loads delivered, Dennis cautioned, Don’t rush. You can take your time and still make plenty of money on pay by the load. In fact, his calculations indicated that averaging the same number of loads each day that he hauled by the hour would bring better earnings.
While Bobby Dennis speaks effectively on his own behalf, customers and colleagues are eloquent in adding their praise. Says Anthony Williams of A and J Construction LLC in Covington, Ga., His experience shines through when jobs get tricky. Always calm and professional, even when I’m not, Bobby is the driver that I would most recommend on pours where discharging the concrete is critical. I handle the chutes myself and know too well the aggravation of an inexperienced driver. He is a leader and mentor to other drivers when they get stuck or do not feel comfortable with a challenging situation. Ask me who I think is the best all-around driver for Lafarge, and I will tell you: Bobby Dennis.
LRM INDUSTRIES, INC. LAWRENCE, KANSAS
Don Hastert defies all the odds. At the age of 73, his driver hour per cubic yard and trips per day far exceed the company average. LRM Concrete Division Manager Larry Puckett reports that Hastert has hauled over 985 loads in a year, adding, Don has been our number one driver going on 11 years now.
Also undaunted by difficult job sites, he is the driver called upon to maneuver a mixer where others could not, asserts contractor Stan Tiemeyer, saving the day for me many times. Even if it took six tries in a tight spot, Tiemeyer emphasizes, Don Hastert would get his truck into exact position. Jim Hicks, president of Lawrence-based Hicks’ Classic Concrete, Inc., notes Hastert’s thoroughness in surveying a site upon arrival to determine the best and safest location to place his truck for discharge.
His demeanor in the course of doing whatever it takes to get the concrete out, according to LRM’s Puckett, further challenges common expectations. Whether adding chemicals, more chutes, or moving the truck from one spot to another, Hicks observes, Hastert is willing to perform any duties required, meeting requests with a No problem response and always behaving as though he loves the job. Adds Tiemeyer, The only time I ever saw him frown was when it was morel mushroom season, and he couldn’t find any!
READY MIX USA, LLC – ATLANTA DIV. WOODSTOCK, GEORGIA
A foolproof formula for success as a ready mixed truck driver is the advice Roy Kelley gives to new employees: Come to work on time, keep your truck clean, haul concrete, and treat the customers right. That strategy has produced for Kelley a stellar 44-year track record, including 20-plus years without a single vehicle or on-the-job accident or any rejected loads. Described as a silent leader by more than one colleague, he sets the standard at the downtown Atlanta plant for safety, dependability, and customer service. His consistency in each of these areas makes him outstanding, notes Ready Mix USA Safety Director J.P. Clay. Echoing that claim, Atlanta Plant Manager Bill Collins offers the ultimate accolade: Mr. Kelley is the most skilled driver I have ever worked with. He takes exceptional care of the concrete, his truck, and the customers.
ANTHONY TONY LEMMON
SOUTHERN CONCRETE MATERIALS ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
In Anthony Lemmon’s case, the makings of an outstanding driver were evident from his first appearance and earliest performance at SCM’s Charlotte plant nearly 29 years ago. At that time a tall, slender man who might have found the huge monster of a truck more than a bit disconcerting, Lemmon declared his intention to drive a mixer. Under the tutelage of his trainer, he learned to operate a two-stick shift, mastering the transmission and all other aspects of the Mack mixer truck, and absorbed customer service lessons emphasizing courtesy and respect in all situations.
Remembering his first delivery in the two-stick Mack, Lemmon recalls arriving at the residence of an elderly couple with eight yards of concrete on a Cash upon Delivery ticket. Though finishing tools were on site, no finisher was present and no forms were in place. Without hesitating, he constructed forms and used a 2 _ 4 to finish the concrete surface. So impressed were his customers that they placed a call to the dispatcher to report the exceptional service.
Since that time, Lemmon’s accident-free record spanning 28-plus years reflects highly honed skills and consistent attention to safety in the often congested environs of metropolitan Charlotte, where unrelenting traffic, tight entrances or access ways, and sinkholes or septic tanks on old property challenge the less competent driver. Keeping a cool head and a civil tongue diffuses tense or explosive situations and makes the experience beneficial for all involved, he affirms.
Moreover, in the course of remaining keenly aware of his surroundings, Lemmon’s service exceeds the call of duty. Citing one example, SCM Corporate Safety Officer Gary Gresh reports: A sports car driver pulled up alongside the mixer at an intersection, seething with impatience and glancing towards Lemmon before flooring the gas pedal and cutting directly in front of the truck as the light turned green. What the drag racer failed to note was a woman beginning to cross the street just before the light changed. Upon witnessing the accident, Lemmon immediately called his dispatcher to report the incident and request help. He left his vehicle, hurried to render assistance, stayed at the scene until authorities arrived Û and still managed to make his delivery on time.