Dale Craiger, Special Events Manager
Dale started while he was still in high school, working afternoons and weekends in the paint booth at the old location on 10th Ave North. He sanded Coke machines preparing them to be repainted, commenting, “It was a loud, dusty job and not much fun.”
So many memories…
Shortly after, he moved to the changer shop where they cleaned and repaired the coin mechanisms on vending machines. “It was all mechanical back then, whereas now it’s all computerized. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to repair one anymore.” About three years later, Dale moved over to the special events team where he learned the ins and outs of community events. From 1987-1999, Dale worked as a Cold Drink Market Manager before returning back to the special events team where he’s managed ever since.
The biggest change over the last 42 years is the reliance on technology. “When I started there were no computers. There were no cell phones or internet. We didn’t even have pagers when I first started. If someone needed to contact you, they had to wait until you got back to the plant. Everything was done on paper, with all the deliveries typed up on carbon paper.”
It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s…Surge Man!
He also made note of the flavor and packaging changes. “Another big change has been flavors and packages. In 1974, when I started part-time, there was only Coke, Sprite, and Tab. These were in returnables and cans, no plastic bottles yet.”
“I am going to miss everyone. When you have put 40-odd years of your life into something, you have to care about the work and the people you work with. It is going to take some adjustment to just stop doing it. It is true that if you stick it out long enough that Coca-Cola gets into your veins. And if you do stay, you can be proud. Selling Cokes in whatever capacity you work is always hard and is challenging every single day. Not everyone is fit to do it… only the most special of us.”
Dale will be retiring at the end of October. He’s been full-time with UNITED since 1977, and worked part-time from 1974-1977.
The Birmingham sales team will miss Dale greatly! His hard work, humor, and positivity will not be forgotten.