The Wheaton Group awarded Driver of the Year to four of its drivers and recognized a fifth with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The recognitions were announced Thursday, Feb. 25 during Wheaton's virtual Van Line Summit & Awards Gala.
The drivers of the year included:
Aristeo Fermin Castillo, Boerman Moving & Storage, Inc., Woodridge, Illinois: It's been a decade since Castillo entered the moving industry at the suggestion of his nephew. Castillo is a "solid number one rated driver" in The Wheaton Group system with a near-perfect customer satisfaction score based on 260 customer responses, according to the company.
Joseph Estrada, Olympic Moving & Storage III, Lakewood, Washington: Estrada is "a natural at the household goods industry," said Wheaton in recognizing him. He says he does his best to read each customer and determine just what it is that that will make them most comfortable with him taking control of their worldly goods, according to the company.
Scott Knight, White Knight Transport Services, LLC, Monmouth, Oregon: Years ago, armed with a degree in mechanical engineering, Knight hit the job market at a time where firms were downsizing, not hiring, so he created his own job, said Wheaton in a statement about the awards. Knight and his father opened up an auto repairshop in southern California near George Air Force Base. When the base closed, and everyone tried to move out at once, Knight became a household goods mover and not long after that opened up his own moving company. Since then, Knight has overcome cancer and become an eight-time driver of the month for The Wheaton Group, according to the company.
David Zaragoza, Direct Lease Fleet, Indianapolis, Indiana: A news release about the awards said Zaragoza "is one of the most valuable drivers in The Wheaton Group fleet; always dependable, always professional, with an excellent driver rating and accolades from customers." Wheaton said, "his core belief is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and it shows time and again in his interactions with customers."
Each winning driver receives a Driver of the Year plaque from The Wheaton Group, along with a $2,000 cash award.
To be eligible for these awards, individuals must have earned a Driver of the Month award between January 2020 and December 2020 and consistently provided superior service to The Wheaton Group’s customers. By their excellent records in claims, customer service, and safety, these drivers are among the best in the van lines’ fleet, according to Wheaton.
Also during the virtual awards program, Wheaton honored one of its longstanding and most successful drivers.
The company's 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Ralph Bingham, a driver for Dixie Moving & Storage, the company he founded in Washington, Utah.
“Ralph has always been a no-nonsense operator who bleeds customer service. He takes the concepts of a work ethic and personal responsibility to new heights,” said Ron Borkowski, vice president of operations at Bekins Van Lines.
The 43-year Bekins veteran credits much of his makeup and core beliefs to things he learned from his single-parent mother – his father passed away when he was only 4 – and credits his early days on his journey to becoming an Eagle Scout.
In 1977, a friend asked Bingham if he wanted to earn some cash helping out at his moving company in Cedar City, Utah. A few months later, Bingham borrowed a down payment and became the owner of the company at age 24. He’s been in the Bekins system ever since. In 1980 he moved to St. George, where he opened Dixie Moving & Storage, which he sold a few years ago.
Along the way, Bingham has accumulated about 4 million miles behind the wheel. Bingham and his wife, Pamela, have five children and 13 grandchildren.
Headquartered in Indianapolis, the Wheaton Group owns five household goods relocation brands: Wheaton World Wide Moving, Bekins Van Lines, Stevens Worldwide Van Lines, Arpin Van Lines, and Clark & Reid.