Don Oliver passed away just days before he was to be honored by Tractor & Equipment Company, but his spirit was surely felt that night.
Oliver, who worked for TEC for more than 30 years, became the first person inducted into the company’s Spirit Award Hall of Fame at a Feb. 28 ceremony at The View in Birmingham, Ala.
Spirit Awards are given to Product Support Sales Representatives (PSSR) who excel in the five categories of customer perception, territory sales, customer meetings, target accounts and sales training. During the selection process, customers are interviewed to determine the candidates’ relationship with their clients and assess their work in the field.
The Hall of Fame was created this year to honor PSSRs who received the Spirit Award five times.
Those who worked with Oliver say he was one of the best PSSRs the company had ever seen.
“It’s hard to lose somebody like that,” said Tim Tipton, vice president of product support and marketing. “The relationships he built with his customers were among the strongest of any of our employees.”
Joe Bechtel, parts manager in the Macon, Ga., branch, where Oliver worked, said Oliver saw the people he dealt with as more than just customers.
“He built relationships and friends,” Bechtel said of Oliver, who once turned down a promotion to parts manager since it would take him away from direct contact with the customers.
During Oliver’s battle with cancer, he never let his illness get in the way of these relationships. Bechtel said he even called on customers from the back of an ambulance while being transported to the hospital.
Oliver was “respected and revered by all of the PSSRs, no matter where they were in the company,” Bechtel said, and they would call him consistently for advice.
He said Oliver, a born salesman, “could sell ice to Eskimos,” but never would, as it would ruin the working relationship. That trust led to a group of contractors who are devoted to TEC, even in Oliver’s absence.
An award bearing Oliver’s name will be awarded in subsequent years to a PSSR who exemplifies Oliver’s spirit and devotion to his job.
In addition to Oliver, the winners of this year’s Spirit Award are: Rich Trucks, Shane Marquis, Sean Mehaffey, Matt Manning, Tony Kennedy, Barry Thornburg, Doug Haas, Mike Douglas, Troy Cleckler and Delane Brown.
Other awards went to: Reed Jackson and Troy Cleckler, labor sales; Rhett Autrey and Brian Hagood, reman sales; Mike Douglas and Matt Manning, undercarriage sales; Joey Majors and Barry Thornburg, filtration sales; Jim Saunders, Tony Bertino and Edwin Murray, G.E.T. sales; Rich Trucks, Delane Brown and Tony Kennedy, hydraulic sales; and Delane Brown, Terry Shepherd, Edwin Murray and Bob Raley, used parts. CEG Staff