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Delivering Newspapers With A Smile To Local Businesses

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Posted: Friday, April 26, 2019 10:48 am

Business owners know him as the friendly and smiling face who delivers the Eagle & Times every Thursday. Roberto Gamez has faithfully delivered the newspaper to local businesses without missing a day for 25 years.

Gamez 62, delivers the Imperial Beach Eagle & Times on Thursdays and the Coronado Eagle & Journal on Wednesdays. “I like my job, talking to people,” he said.

Gamez, who has lived in the Nestor area for 40 years, moved to the U.S. from Tijuana with his family when he was a teenager as one of seven siblings. His English was not very good but improved while he attended Montgomery Junior High and Montgomery High School.

After graduation Gamez started working in the food industry as a food maker for Jack in the Box at its headquarters in San Diego. He prepared hamburgers and cheeseburgers for four years.

At 21 he married his wife Lourdes, whom he has now been married to for 40 years.

When Jack in the Box moved its headquarters to Texas, Gamez was hired by Van Kemp to work at a cannery on Harbor Drive.

From working in the food business, Gamez then made the jump to newspapers. Working in the newspaper business was something he fell into thanks to a friend who told him the Chula Vista Star News was looking for a delivery person.

Gamez applied and was hired. He worked for the Star News for four years and had 10 people working for him. At the same time he started delivering the San Diego Union Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Employment Guide. At one point he was delivering newspapers seven days a week.

“When the changes happened with the Union Tribune somebody told me to look at the local IB Newspaper,” recalled Gamez.

That local newspaper was the Imperial Beach Times owned by John Mahoney. “Mahoney hired me because he knew I had experience,” he said. “I started working for him for five years and when Dean Eckenroth bought the newspaper he hired me. I’m very happy with him and his son, too. Since the time I’ve worked with Dean Eckenroth I haven’t missed one day in 25 years.”

Gamez recalls the circulation of the Eagle & Times was 3,000 when Mahoney owned it, then with Eckenroth, it went up to 5,000, eventually going up to the current 7,500.

On Thursday mornings Gamez fills his car with newspapers and drives around town. He also does a good amount of walking, especially in Coronado where the businesses are close to each other and it makes more sense to walk. In Coronado he delivers the newspaper on Wednesdays and once a month the Value Book and the Coronado Magazine. With the extra publications it takes him longer to finish the deliveries. He estimates it takes 5.5 to 6 hours for complete the newspaper delivery.

Gamez knows everybody in Imperial Beach as well as Coronado. He mentioned the Police and Sheriff’s departments, fire stations, real estate agents and local schools.

Every Thursday morning Gamez gets the 7,500 newspapers and starts his delivery at more than 150 business in Imperial Beach. “I start with the places that open early at around 6:30 a.m.,” he said.

He begins the deliveries to businesses like the gas station, 7Eleven, the Laundromat and Grocery Outlet. By the time he delivers to those businesses, Deb’s Cookie Jar is open and he stops there to drop off newspapers and chat with Deb’s husband Steve.

“The important thing is I don’t leave papers outside of businesses. I go inside and pick up the old issues. It’s very important to pick them up - unless they want me to leave them,” he explained. Gamez’s route goes as far as the shopping center on Saturn Boulevard.

What does Gamez love about his job? “Talking to people, seeing them every week. I’m nice to them, it makes my job easier. They trust me when I go in [their businesses], they know who I’m. I’ve learned to be friendly,” he said. Over the years during his deliveries, residents have given him story ideas which he has passed on to the office.

Gamez also delivers Mexican language newspapers on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Gamez is very proud of the fact that while driving around Imperial Beach and Coronado for his deliveries he has never been given a ticket in the past 25 years.

In his spare time Gamez plays the keyboard, collects old die cast cars and goes to the gym to stay in shape.

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