Front Line Excellence

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s 18th Annual Ready Mixed Concrete Delivery Professional Driver of the Year program recognizes three industry veterans from a pool of outstanding nominees across the country. The NRMCA Operations, Environmental and Safety Committee assembled a panel of judges to weigh nominees’ competence, driving skills, number of years without an on- or off-road accident, and colleague or customer testimonials. Judges awarded Driver of the Year honor to Southern Concrete Materials’ Garland Sorrells, plus second and third place, respectively, to Cemex’s Hector Aguilera and Michael Vineyard. The Truck Mixer Manufacturers Bureau will award Sorrells $5,000, and Aguilera and Vineyard $500 each. The three will be formally honored this month during the NRMCA Annual Convention in Las Vegas.

Garland Sorrells has driven full time for SCM more than 30 years; with part-time duty logged in sister construction operations, he has been on the company’s payroll nearly 52 years—all without an on-the-jobsite accident, and 35-plus years without a vehicle accident. He averages 6,700 yards in annual deliveries.

“Garland has never had a DOT-chargeable accident on North Carolina roads. He is experienced on every size truck the company owns and can also operate all the other heavy equipment in the Asheville Division,” says SCM Vice President of Human Resources and Safety Gary Gresh. “When he takes a new team member under his wing, you can be assured that a safe, conscientious driver will be the end result.” His safety record is all the more impressive considering the frequency of ready mixed deliveries along narrow roads in mountainous terrain—to sites with poor entrances and accessible only with precise vehicle maneuvering, Gresh adds.

“I have worked with Garland Sorrells since 1992, and in my 40 years in the construction industry, have seen many concrete truck drivers. There has never been one more welcome on my job sites than Mr. Sorrells,” affirms one Asheville contractor. “There are a lot of good drivers, but Garland has the extra ingredient of ‘attitude’ that promotes the ‘get ‘er done’ mentality many jobs require. I have found this to be infectious to other trades as well as our forces. This is difficult to teach or mandate, but when found in an individual, it spreads to all who come in contact with him.”

“My crews know Garland has the knowledge and ability to understand what makes our jobs go smoothly. He is also is very conscious as to where everybody is on the site, and does not do anything that would keep my crew members from going home safely to their families,” says another SCM customer, reflecting on nearly 20 years of concrete orders from Sorrells.

With 15 years at Cemex—and 23 years overall operating a mixer truck—Hector Aguilera has distinguished himself among the company’s finest drivers. He took 2009 and 2013 Cemex Mixer Driver Rodeos, staged in Woodland and Sacramento, Calif., respectively. The latter event qualified him for the 2013 NRMCA Mixer Driver Championship in Las Vegas.

Cemex Northern California Area Manager, Ready Mix Steve Alexander credits Aguilera for always working with customers by building a relationship and finding better ways to serve them and the Cemex team; keeping his truck clean, helping communicate a positive image for the company; and, volunteering for the Safety Committee, where his contributions bring a different perspective and help make Cemex a better, safer place to work. Aguilera is credited for saving the life of a fellow motorist in Dixon, Calif.: While navigating his mixer on Highway 113, he observed what appeared to be a drunk driver, notifying his dispatcher, who in turn called California Highway Patrol (CHP). After maneuvering in traffic to block the driver, he exited his truck and pulled the keys from the ignition of the wayward car—later learning from CHP and family members that the driver was suffering a seizure from a stroke.

Michael Vineyard exemplifies a perfect driver and extraordinary human being, always going above and beyond the call of duty as a delivery professional and team leader, notes Cemex’s Travis Johnson, Southern California Ready Mix, Inland Empire Operations Manager.

He has driven for more than two decades without a vehicular accident, typically hauling in excess of 9,000 yards of concrete per year and maintaining the fleet’s cleanest truck. Working with the Cemex Inland Empire safety director, Vineyard helped pioneer adoption of the Smith System Certified Driver Program, while leading safety meetings and training new drivers on the “Cemex Way.”

One of Cemex’s Riverside customers relayed his observations on Vineyard’s competence and fast-thinking, exhibited on a rain-softened road to a concrete pump: “Trucks started to slide as they backed up, causing an unsafe situation. Mike let me know [and] I put a hold on deliveries until I could have my crew bring in base material and compact it so drivers would not be sliding around. Safety is first. We do not want to take the chance of hurting anyone on our one of jobsites.”

His accomplishments as a driver pale in comparison to his courage, Johnson affirms: After having been diagnosed with prostate cancer, Vineyard worked with a corporate wellness director to produce a video on early detection of the disease and inform peers of how a routine checkup helped save his life.