Front Line Excellence

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s 21st Ready Mixed Concrete Driver of the Year program recognizes four industry veterans from a pool of outstanding delivery professionals 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.


The NRMCA Truck Mixer Manufacturers Bureau will present checks of $5,000 to Driver of the Year Burice Woods of Chandler Concrete (page 45) and $1,000 to Runners-Up Jeff Acuna of Central Concrete Supply (below); Michael Castellanos of Right Away Redy Mix (opposite page); and, Sylvester Wallace of Titan Virginia Ready-Mix (page 44). They will also be honored this month in Las Vegas during the NRMCA annual convention. As Driver of the Year program cosponsor, Concrete Products joins the association and OES Committee in congratulating all 2017 nominees for their professionalism, safe operating skills, teamwork, and critical role in conveying a positive message about ready mixed concrete.

Based at the Martinez, Calif., plant, Jeff Acuna has logged more than 31 years with Central Concrete Supply, all without vehicle or on-the-job accident. “He has never taken shortcuts, delivering on [U.S. Concrete’s] ‘Safety First’ at all times,” affirms Victtor Lopez, area manager, Operations. “Jeff is a constant supporter of our safety rounds, which we call our tailgate meetings. His perspective and support add to his credibility as a trainer for experienced and inexperienced drivers.

“Jeff has excellent flexibility with multiple sources of accountability. While being accountable for his truck and on-time delivery of high quality product, he understands he is accountable to each customer. He conscientiously listens to [and] anticipates their needs, and delivers at or above customer expectations.”

Acuna positively influences the Central Concrete work environment through words and actions, Lopez notes, adding “His optimism is evident, especially during introduction of change, which makes it possible to cultivate our culture of innovation. Jeff openly embraced the installation of our new TrackIt system, which assists drivers with navigation, electronic DVIRs, pre- and post-trip inspection, open mic radio communication, truck swaps, and GPS tracking, and allows our organization to optimize efficiency and accuracy of product delivery.”

“I could not think of a better person to nominate for this award,” writes Concord, Calif. customer Jim Taylor. “I have been fortunate to work with Jeff for 25 years. He is an excellent driver … always in a great mood and look[ing] out for the safety of our crew … A few years ago we were pouring a slab on a cold winter day. Jeff gave me his coat. I still have it.”

“Jeff and I have worked together for 45 years and [he] is one of the best mixer drivers I have ever worked with,” adds Cliff Swisher of Martinez, Calif. “He is a great truck driver with great expertise in his field. He is always accommodating and helpful, and really tries to assist in getting the job done right in a timely manner. He takes very good care of his equipment, and that reflects on what kind of a person he is. Jeff is an essential asset to Central Concrete.”

Oakland Plant-based Michael Castellanos is closing in on 32 years with Right Away, all without a vehicle accident. Plant Manager Sheilah Young observes, “Mike ‘Casty’ Castellanos embodies the core values of our company: Excellence in customer service, safety and productivity. His career began as a teenager washing tools for a local concrete contractor, eventually working his way up to be an accomplished finisher. Recognized for his outstanding work ethic and knowledge of concrete, he was recruited by the owner of Right Away and trained to drive a concrete mixer.”

“He has been the go-to driver for tackling sites that most ready mixed companies in our area would not take on, as well as delivering more technically challenging material for architectural and structural applications,” Young adds. “He is a favorite driver with our customers and often [called] for the difficult jobs that require tremendous maneuvering skills. Mike is a leader and mentor. He has developed into one of our most trusted driver trainers because of his focus on [U.S. Concrete’s] ‘Safety First’ and customer service. We know when Mike has released a trainee to be on his own, the new driver is ready to succeed, no matter how mundane or potentially difficult the delivery because of the thoroughness of Mike’s tutelage.

“Through the years of company growth and industry and economic flux, one constant has remained: Mike’s dedication to excellence. He is loyal, dependable and respectful of customers, co-workers, management and company equipment, and a voice of reason in tense times.”

“Michael Castellanos is a professional mixer driver who has delivered concrete to my pump for more than 25 years,” notes contractor Don Olney. “There have been many drivers over [that time] that have delivered to me, but Mike stands out as a professional. He is concerned with safely driving to the job with the correct mix, slump and color” and “is one of the reasons Right Away Redy Mix is the success it is today.”

“Our success is dependent on firms such as Right Away Redy Mix,” writes Myron Hagen of Ned Clyde Construction. “I am always impressed by good firms and their hard working employees and ethics. Mr. Castellanos has been conscientious on the job, helping to make sure things are done properly and safely, not only on the road, but at the sites. He works diligently to be a safe driver, a job that is hard to do with such heavy loads on our busy highways. Safety is always a big issue and when done properly, without fail, leads to success for all. I highly recommend Michael Castellanos as an extraordinary candidate for the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s 2017 Driver of the Year.”

Adds El Macero, Calif., contractor Jesse Esquivias: “Not only does he provide excellent customer service on behalf of Right Away Redy Mix, but he respects my crew as well. Mike is courteous and punctual, along with being concrete savvy. He has made sure that my orders are complete [and] timely. Mike is a good representative of the company and allows me to continue to do service with Right Away.”

Sylvester “Julio” Wallace has delivered concrete for 46 years, all with Titan Virginia Ready-Mix and predecessor companies—and without a vehicle accident. He is based at the producer’s Port Norfolk, Va., plant.

“When nominating Sylvester, I am consumed by a sense of nostalgia,” notes Titan Virginia Vice President Louis Petrillo. “Sylvester is an Army veteran, but to that point he is a ready mixed veteran of an amazing 46 years. He is the ‘old breed’ of our industry. Before load cells, when pony motors and chains charged the mixer drum, Sylvester was delivering concrete in the heat and cold of Virginia without climate control. In an ever changing industry, Sylvester found his niche and has successfully delivered concrete for the same company over a career which spans a lifetime.”

Titan Virginia’s performance evaluation system measures on a daily basis: Safety, Preventive Maintenance, Quality, Cubic Yards/ Man-Hour, Attendance, Ticket Execution, Truck Appearance, and Total Yards Delivered. Wallace’s performance against these metrics is “outstanding,” affirms Petrillo. “Sylvester is well respected in the organization. He never abuses his prominence, maintains a humble disposition [and] is consistently observed providing counsel on best practices to both drivers and customers alike.”

Beyond Wallace’s success at operating a ready mixed truck, adds Petrillo, is his contribution as a “driver” of the Titan Virginia culture, the hallmarks of which are safety, integrity, know how, and value to the customer. Supervisors routinely observe Wallace “never having a bad day,” his positive attitude and demeanor providing a tremendous example of how to work, and permeating throughout the business.

“Julio does a great job as a concrete truck driver,” notes Suffolk, Va., customer Charity Kuebler. “He is on time, respectful, safe, attentive (follows directions and signals), does not argue, he uses some common sense (which is rare), he knows what to do and the concrete specs are correct. In short, when we see Julio drive up, we have no worries with that truck and know everything is going to go smoothly.”

“I thoroughly enjoy my time working with [Sylvester], and have come to think of him as a very valuable asset to our company,” adds Clinton Cornik of Virginia Beach. “He is the best driver that I work with. Not only are his customer service skills impeccable, but he is very dependable and incredibly hard-working. I always know I can depend on him because the concrete always arrives on time, and the mix is perfect. If it isn’t, he will fix it … This man is very valuable and an all-around great person, and I am very pleased to help in his recognition. Congratulations Julio a.k.a. ‘Sonny Boy’ on a job well done!”

Burice Woods has driven Chandler Concrete mixers for 38 years, all free of vehicle or on-the-job accidents, and is presently based at the producer’s Roxboro, N.C., plant. Leading into this year’s NRMCA recognition, he took the 2015 Chandler Concrete Level II Driver of the Year Award and last year was presented the Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

“B.W. has been a longtime employee and asset to Chandler Concrete. He is always willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, from loading concrete at the plant to delivering it to the customer,” notes Director of Operations Jamie Nelm. “Plant and yard knowledge enable B.W. to contribute to daily operations, from operating a loader stockpiling material to cleaning out reclaim ponds. He also helps with truck maintenance repair and trains new mixer drivers. B.W. is very active in safety, always looking for anything unsafe around the yard, office and jobsite … consistently without compromise.

“Our customers frequently ask for B.W. when they place an order. He will do whatever he can to ensure the job goes smoothly. He fills in where needed in any situation without having to be asked.”

After 35 years in the business, writes Chandler Concrete customer Ronald Henderson, “One thing I have learned about pouring concrete is that a good truck driver can save you a lot of work. And when it comes to mixer drivers, Burice Woods is at the top of my list! B.W. will help any way he can, always has. When he gets out of the truck, you feel like he’s one of the crew. He’s the standard I measure other drivers against.”

From 30-plus years’ experience with Burice Woods, Terry Oakley adds: “He is always cordial, friendly and never seems to have a ‘bad day.’ He consistently does a great job [and] is knowledgeable and helpful in getting the concrete on the ground. He takes pride in his truck and doing a good job.”

“I did not know a lot about concrete, but luckily when my delivery came, Mr. Woods was the driver,” recalls a small order customer on a fall 2016 project. “He [told] us how to take a 2 x 4 and make a bullfloat to finish concrete, which made the job look a lot better than just a rough pad. Mr. Woods is a person the company can be glad to have.”