Wayne Childress Retires After 29-Year Mickey Career
When Wayne Childress joined Mickey Truck Bodies in 1984 as its first National Accounts Sales Manager, his challenge was to grow and manage the company’s flagship beverage body and trailer business.
Today, not only is Mickey the preeminent manufacturer of bodies and trailers for the soft drink and beer markets, it also commands the lion’s share of the automotive battery, bottled water and emergency services industries which, not coincidentally, all came under Wayne’s charge as he opened up those businesses at various points during his Mickey career. All told, Mickey’s U.S. market share has more than doubled since 1984.
Wayne, who officially retired on June 14 after spending his entire 42-year career in beverage industry sales – the last 29 with Mickey – was honored at a special company celebration in High Point that was attended by his current colleagues and past Mickey teammates and mentors. Among the guests was Kent Lopp, former VP Sales and the person who hired Wayne in 1984. “I told Wayne 30 years ago that this job would be the biggest challenge of his career,” Kent recalled. “And I really didn’t know how he would handle it. We didn’t have a big market share or a well-known brand name, and the competition was really stiff. Thirty years later, I think we can all say the proof is in the pudding.”
“Wayne is the ultimate salesperson,” said Dean Sink, Mickey President & CEO. “But he is the kind of person who would have succeeded at anything he did and for any company he chose to do it for. We are very fortunate he decided to sell truck bodies and trailers for Mickey.”
“I’ve had a very unique career to have worked for only two companies, both family-owned,” Wayne told the gathering. “In these environments I learned early that relationships were about more than just conducting business and selling products. It’s about the personality of the companies, the people, their families. There’s a big difference between a business and a relationship. You can retire from the business; but you never retire from the relationships.”
According to Wayne, “The most amazing thing about Mickey today is that you can see our trucks on the road in places like the Middle East, South America, Russia, Ghana – made right here in High Point, NC. Virtually everywhere in the world, they know our name and they know who we are. That’s an accomplishment in which we can all be very proud.”
Wayne’s plan for retirement is to do more traveling with his wife, Jane, and spend “a lot more time with my grandson, Chase, teaching him all the bad habits of a golf swing.”
Several of Wayne’s closest friends and customers from the past 29 years reflected on their relationships with the man and the company:
“Mickey always provided great service, an excellent product and a willingness to help us look into innovative solutions to our delivery system needs … In spite of having earned the majority of our business, Wayne never let his sales team develop an entitlement mentality, but continued to work hard to meet our needs.” Jim Moore, former Vice Chairman, President & CEO of Coke Consolidated
“The ability to truly listen and understand his customers’ needs is what makes Wayne such a great salesperson – and I would imagine a leader – as well as a trusted supplier for Nestle Waters.
When it comes to truck bodies, in my 18-plus years with Nestle Waters I have never once said we needed to look at another supplier. Why? Because of the trust I have in Wayne. I have always thought of him not as a supplier, but as part of the extended Nestle Waters family.” Dave Muscato, Executive Vice President, Nestlé Direct
“As you get older, you realize how many people you have met and known, some better than others. But considering those that are close friends, you’re fortunate if you can count them on one hand. Wayne is one of my close friends.” Tommy Miller, Former Chairman, Interstate Batteries.
“Interstate Battery has done business exclusively with Mickey for over 28 years, and there is a reason we don’t use a second supplier — it is your PEOPLE. Wayne, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you as a person and a true friend. I know you have many customers but you always make me feel like I’m the only one, and that my needs are first in line.” Jackie McLarry, Fleet Manager, Interstate Batteries