Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator route carrier Lori Hoon is this year’s Ohio News Media Association’s Carrier of the Year.
The award winner was announced last week by the statewide media organization. Hoon is described as a dedicated, hard-working delivery person who got into the line of work after looking for the right fit for her family life.
Hoon, born and raised in Youngstown, attended Chaney High School. She moved to Canfield and raised a daughter, Brittany, and a son, J.R., both adults now. In June 2006, Hoon started delivery on a route with roughly 106 newspapers.
“I really wanted a job I could do that made a decent income and I could still actively attend everything that my kids were a part of,” she said, such as football and basketball games and choir concerts.
Hoon quickly realized the delivery job was a perfect fit. She took on more and more routes until she finally turned it into a full-time career, delivering six routes in Boardman and Canfield. Besides these routes, she occasionally subs for other carriers who are out for medical reasons or vacations.
“I try to help out when I can,” she said.
Today, her route includes 440 daily papers and 500 weekend papers.
T. Mark Shorts, circulation director for the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator newspapers, backed Hoon’s selection.
“In 40 years of dealing with carriers, she’s, by far, one of the best. And once you meet her, you know why,” Shorts said after the announcement was made last week. “She’s just a very caring person. We are very fortunate to have her as part of our delivery team.”
“I really like the routes I have because the customers are great and very understanding,” Hoon said recently. “I guess keeping track isn’t really difficult for me because I’ve been doing it so long that it is second nature. On occasion I forget that someone is stopped for vacation or something like that.”
Hoon said her average day starts pretty early — which she doesn’t mind because she describes herself as “a night owl.”
“I like to stay in a routine of getting up at the same time and getting to the warehouse, as if I’m punching a time clock,” she said. “I like to be early so I’m there and prepared once the papers get there. Once I leave to start delivering, I usually put some music on or I have a few friends who deliver as well, so I talk to them while we deliver. I really don’t mind those nights that are warm and beautiful. Some days are very challenging with the cold or snow, but I try to give it my all. I’m done and going home when most people are getting up and heading to work.”
Hoon averages 45 to 50 miles per day on her routes, and she acknowledged the increased fuel prices will impact her a bit.
“Unfortunately with gas prices this high, it will affect my bottom line, but the good part is that I drive a small Honda Civic, and it is really good on gas,” she said.
The Ohio News Media Association and the ONMA Circulation Committee, in recognizing outstanding newspaper carriers from across Ohio, said of Hoon: “Over the years she has formed a special bond with her customers and has taken some of them to doctor appointments, helped them clear their snow and much more.”
She will receive $1,000 and a statue award.
Hoon said she knew about the nomination but said she never thought she would win.
“I didn’t think I would win, especially since I’m competing with the whole state of Ohio,” she said. “I had absolutely no idea and was truly surprised to win. One of my carrier friends set up what I thought was just a breakfast with friends, and that is where I was informed that I had won.”
For the future, Hoon plans to continue delivering and “enjoying her good routes and customers.” She said a few times she considered the idea of changing jobs, but just felt she was not ready.
But she is ready to help new delivery people by sharing some helpful tips.
“If you are a young person just starting out as a carrier, my advice is give delivering a fair chance,” she said. “Don’t quit after just a few days because it does pay off in the long run. Treat your customers right and put their paper where they request, and they will truly appreciate you. Some are elderly and can’t get around very well.”
It is exactly that kind of attitude that led to Hoon being named carrier of the year.