Front Line Excellence

The 28th Ready Mixed Concrete Delivery Professional Driver of the Year program recognizes three industry veterans from a pool of outstanding team players. The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association Safety, Environmental and Operations Committee tasked a panel of judges to weigh nominees’ competence, driving skills, professionalism, safety records, and colleague or customer testimonials.

The NRMCA Truck Mixer Manufacturers Bureau will present checks of $5,000 to Driver of the Year Richard Fulda (page 37) and $1,500 to Runners-Up Raymond Barrera (below) and Carlos Palacios (page 36) during an awards luncheon this month in Florida. As Driver of the Year program cosponsor, Concrete Products joins the Association and SEO Committee in congratulating all 2024 Driver of the Year nominees.

A 28-year veteran of Superior Materials and predecessor business Metzen Concrete, Raymond Barrera is recognized for a spotless driving record, corporate safety committee participation and productivity. The latter is reflected in his delivery of 12,000-plus yards of ready mixed in each of the last three years from a very active plant in the heart of Detroit. As a concrete delivery professional representative for Superior Materials’ city sites, he brings valuable perspective to a committee tasked with developing safety oriented operating procedures for all employees; analyzing incidents or events and enacting preventative measures; plus, teaching and overseeing safety policy adherence.

“Ray’s calm, friendly, professional demeanor and his willingness to help others makes him an excellent candidate for NRMCA’s Driver of the Year Award,” affirms Superior Materials Vice President of Technical Sales & Service Reid Goniwiecha.

“Ray is my go to person … a good leader, problem solver and very passionate about his job,” notes Barton Malow Co. General Laborer Foreman Cecilio Reyes. “Ray is the main driver for Superior Materials [and] also trains new drivers. He is always going above and beyond when training them, continues to follow up and comes to check on drivers even after training is done.”

“Raymond has an amazing ability to pour out the concrete nice and easy. He is very efficient but constantly making adjustments in the discharge speed, never getting too far ahead of the crew while still pushing to empty the truck. His operating skills, positive attitude, hard work ethic and willingness to continue to improve truly make Raymond a joy to work with,” adds John Eastman of Asphalt Control Corp., Detroit.

“Ray has always performed his job by the book, as well as making my crews’ work as easy as possible. I notice the same work ethic as he takes on the role of Driver Training Instructor—always guiding the trainee and never losing his temper,” concludes John Sinacola of Major Construction Group, Livonia, Mich.

Carlos Palacios has an 11-year, accident-free track record with Chaney Enterprises and, during each of the last three years, logged deliveries exceeding 7,000-plus yards. His performance in company and Virginia Ready Mixed Concrete Association roadeo events earned him tickets to the 2017 and 2022 NRMCA National Mixer Truck Driver Championships.

“Carlos has an outstanding safety record, professionalism, driving competency and customer service skills,” says Enterprises Area Manager Michael Hockenberry. “He represents everything you would want in an employee and a coworker; he is very dependable, courteous, and hard-working. Additionally, Carlos is very professional in every aspect of his job. Some of our customers specifically request he deliver their concrete because they enjoy working with him so much. Carlos is extremely knowledgeable about our industry, he is willing to take on any task, and has an amiable and friendly demeanor.”

“Employees like Carlos Palacios are the reason I continue to choose Chaney Enterprises as my main concrete supplier,” affirms David Servais, president of Core Concrete LLC in Fredericksburg, Va. “When he is on one of our job sites, my crews often comment to me how well he works with them to get the job done quickly and efficiently.”

“Carlos is a wonderful team player, always willing to step out and offer assistance if needed during pours,” adds Joana Rodriques, project manager of Star Concrete Construction, Manassas, Va. “I wish there were more drivers like him to make our work days go so smoothly. We always look forward to seeing him pull up to our sites.”

When Carlos approaches the sites of North Dinwiddie, Va. customer Wagman, Construction Manager Jeremy Rogers observes, “Our crews can expect the concrete to arrive at the desired location and requested slump every time. He can be trusted to do what is asked and exhibits a great attitude while doing it. He keeps our environmentally sensitive areas free of potential discharge concerns and communicates with crew members if any issues arise.”

Ricky Fulda has 35-plus years in ready mixed concrete delivery, 21 with his current employer and all without an on-the-job accident. The NRMCA Driver of the Year nomination and honors follow his earning the title of North Dakota Ready Mix & Concrete Products Association Truck Driver of 2023.

“Richard is the embodiment of what we look for in mixer drivers, excelling at: Safety, Truck Maintenance, Product Knowledge, Teamwork and Customer Service,” notes Dickinson Ready Mix Operations Manager David Grinsteinner. “He has worked himself into a position as a Mentor Driver, which we deem as a trainer, and a safety culture advocate. He is trained to look out for his fellow drivers or employees and his customers in the field, at the yard, or in the shop. Richard has an eye for changing circumstances that lead to injuries or near misses into opportunities to teach why we don’t do certain actions one way or another. As a trainer, he truly buys into our safety program and perpetuates its growth.”

Fulda attained ACI Grade I Field Testing certification after hours of training and learning. “He is very versed in concrete testing and chemical admixtures, effects, and dosages,” Grinsteinner observes. “His care with loads and delivery methods are second to none, and he will always work with testers and engineers to make sure everyone has the assurances we are delivering the highest quality product possible. For 12 years I have had the pleasure to work with Richard Fulda. Though many days were difficult, he was consistently raising the bar and helping others to exceed expectations.”

“Ricky knows concrete to put it simply. His slump is always where we need it. He knows how to handle everyone, whether it is the pumpers, testers, or contractors. He is one of the most competent drivers that we have worked with,” says local customer Mathew Sisson of Winn Construction Inc. “When Ricky is on site we don’t have to worry about safety; he is where we need him and helps guide others. He also doesn’t have a problem telling someone they are doing it the wrong or unsafe way, and is willing to teach them how to do it right.”

When Fulda arrives at a Tollman Concrete site, “I need not worry about how the job is going to go, because I know that his skills behind the wheel of a mixer truck are right up there with any other driver,” says Steven Tollman. “He knows how to back into location without fail and keep the customer safe and out of harm’s way. In the many years of having Ricky on the job and pouring for me, he knows that being quick, punctual, getting in and out of the job site is important. His attitude is always on the positive side, no matter the situation.”