A Redmond UPS driver has retired after driving 127,499 miles in a career that spanned 30 years with no record of an accident.
Steve Poulter, 65, started his career as a driver with UPS in 1989. He went from professionally riding bicycles to driving a UPS truck.
During his time at UPS, Poulter drove a total of 55,378 hours and delivered 657,843 packages.
“It was perfect for someone like myself,” Poulter said. “I can’t work in an office environment. I love to be outside and I love the exercise. I can’t believe they [paid] me to do a 10-hour workout every day. I enjoyed it so much.”
Poulter, who is originally from England and now lives in Redmond, said he’s always enjoyed being outdoors and staying active. At the age of 16, Poulter started cycling and eventually became a professional. Poulter cycled in races all over Great Britain and Europe in his late teens to early 20s. He said he made it a goal to compete in the Summer Olympics and 10 years later, Poulter and his team competed in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
After competing in the Olympics, Poulter stayed in the country and cycle raced in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he met his wife, Kristen. The two married in 1989 and moved to Seattle.
“We got in two separate cars and we drove to Seattle and started a new life,” Poulter said. “We didn’t know what I was going to do…I finished my cycling.”
Arriving to Seattle, Poulter said he was hired as a Christmas UPS driver and was then hired full-time in 1990. He took over a Redmond route that included downtown Redmond, Education Hill and English Hill. His route was called the 44th loop.
During his time at UPS, Poulter said he developed strong friendships. Especially with his loop partner, Dale Avera, who retired from UPS last year.
“Our trucks were side by side for nearly 30 years and that really is unusual,” Poulter said.
Avera — a UPS driver for 38 years — said Poulter was a good partner and enjoyed driving next to him. Poulter was Avera’s sidekick for 20 years.
“He always had a good outlook,” Avera said. “That’s the first thing that greeted me in the morning and it set the tone for the day. I enjoyed driving next to him and that was one of the reasons I didn’t want to leave my route.”
Poulter helped pick people up, according to Avera. He said he cares about people’s feelings and that came through to his costumers.
“If you were down, he’d pick you up,” Avera said. “It was just a good work experience for me…He helped me get through many rough patches.”
As part of his loop, Poulter delivered to downtown businesses like Ben Franklin Crafts.
Kendra Cismier Daoang, a buyer for Ben Franklin and Poulter’s customer, said she’s known Poulter for at least 15 years.
“Over the years of having the back door open, we got to chatting and [got] to know each other better,” she said. “I consider him a friend now…I would say it’s not every day that I would think people become friends with their UPS driver but he was just that kind of guy.”
According to Daoang, Poulter has a larger than life personality. She said he is a gregarious, fun-loving guy who loves to chat with people. It was easy to develop a friendship with Poulter.
“We definitely miss him,” Daoang said. “You get used to opening a door to a certain person and there’s a history there…While it was sad to know that we wouldn’t have him as a driver anymore, we were all really thrilled for him. We will still see him around.”
During his time at UPS, Poulter said he’s seen Redmond develop into the city it is today. Poulter remembers driving by open landscapes where buildings and apartment complexes stand today. As the city progressed, so did UPS. Poulter recalls using a clipboard and paper to write all the shipping numbers down.
“If it rained, or if you dropped the [clipboard] in a puddle, everything would get smudged,” he said, laughing.
In 2017, Poulter managed to get to 25 years of safe driving and became a member of UPS’s Circle of Honor, which recognizes drivers in the company who have not had an avoidable accident in 25 years or more. Poulter said less than three percent of drivers make it to the circle. To honor Poulter’s safe driving, UPS gave him a 25-years patch and a plate with his name for his delivery truck.
“Twenty-five years is a huge achievement,” he said.
Thinking back on his career, Poulter said he hopes to have instilled his work ethic to his twin children, Kelly and Sean, 24.
In retirement, Poulter said he will be cycling and hiking more often.