International job hunt leads to dream career for Love's employee
As Love's expands its services for professional drivers through the growth of Love's Truck Care and Speedco locations, the company's number of offerings has grown to include engine oil, diesel fuel anti-gel, fuel injector cleaner and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).
At the center of the effort to make sure Love's locations are stocked with these products for customers is Merchandising Planner Violeta Bingham.
"My team and I negotiate with our vendors, analyze data and financial impacts, and overall make sure we're offering the best truck maintenance products for our customers," Violeta said.
Violeta's career journey to where she is today in Love's merchandising department required a lot of patience, had some setbacks, and began thousands of miles away from Love's corporate offices.
Originally from the eastern European nation of Bulgaria, she immigrated to Venezuela when she was 10. Sadly, as she entered adulthood, Violeta faced a pair of tragedies that would eventually lead her to the United States. Within a span of four years, her mother and father passed away.
"I was in college and didn't have any biological family members in Venezuela," Violeta said. "It was very hard, but at the same time, I knew God had plans for me."
Thankfully, Violeta soon felt support and encouragement from a family who adopted her. She also began to look for possibilities beyond Venezuela and its economic instability, where Violeta was making about $50 per month. After her stepsisters from her adopted family moved to the U.S., Violeta considered applying for citizenship. However, that option wasn't readily available at the time due to her limited finances.
Then, a chance meeting at her stepsister's wedding in Florida set the stage for Violeta's career with Love's.
"I actually met my husband at the wedding, and he turned out to be the brother of my sister's husband," Violeta exclaimed. "We tied the knot a year-and-a-half later. He lived in Oklahoma, so that's how I wound up in The Sooner State."
With a goal to become a buyer for a large company, Violeta saw ample opportunities in Oklahoma City. After two years of persistently following up on leads and job openings, she received a call from Manager of Non-consumables Chris Rusler and Category Manager David Barnhill, with an offer of a promotion to merchandising planner.
"Chris and David have been such great mentors, along with Senior Manager of Category Merchandising Kyle Sloan," Violeta said. "What we do can be very challenging at times. However, all my non-consumables team is vital in this daily journey. There's a lot going on, but it's very colorful."
Earlier this fall, Violeta reached another milestone, as she passed her U.S. citizenship test, which she celebrated during a naturalization ceremony in late October. As someone with an international background, she feels like she fits right in with the Love's family.
"I am grateful for the patience and understanding from those who work with me," Violeta said. "As someone who is ESL (English as a second language), I might make a grammar mistake on an email from time to time, but no one makes fun of me. That experience is something you don't get everywhere. I see firsthand the inclusiveness at Love's, and that's reflected in the diversity of the people I interact with."
Though the world of merchandising remains her passion, Violeta's journey has taught her to not rule anything out when it comes to what may be on her career horizon at Love's.
"I cannot tell you exactly what I want to do in five years, but I know the more the company grows, the more opportunities there will be," Violeta said. "I'm not opposed to any type of growth."