Community

Community

Written By: Jordan Pottorff, CTB A group of AM Transport employees hosted the RCMS 5th Block after-school program at Elm Street Christian Church for our annual Give Thanksing program on Tuesday. We cooked turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and various pies and desserts for nearly 70 students and 15 adults from the school and church. The Give Thanksing program was made possible through collaboration between AM Transport, AMT Squirrel Works, Elm Street Christian Church and the RCMS 5th Block program. Hillary Steber was the lucky employee in charge of coordinating the day-long program with planning starting months ago. “I had to start planning in late September,” Hillary said. “I first reached out to the 5th Block Director to get a date that worked well for them. In years past, we would do it the week after Thanksgiving, but I always felt like Thanksgiving was over and everyone was ready for Christmas at that point. This year we decided to do it the week before to get the kids prepared for Thanksgiving the following week. We also decided to do it at Elm Street Christian Church, which was very convenient for both us and the kids since it was in town.” To make sure the day went as planned, we pooled together money to gather all the necessary food and then split up in groups to handle the cooking, food prep, serving of the food, and the clean up all while making sure we had necessary coverage at the office. “I thought it was easier for some people to give a little money instead of having to go grocery shopping or make a turkey or a pie the day of,” Hillary said. “I then asked for volunteers for the day of to help prep and serve the food. After that it was just collecting money and then going shopping. One other change we did this year was grilling the turkeys. We did 7 turkeys on R2BQ and they turned out wonderful! The kids kept talking about how good the turkey was and how it wasn’t dry at all, so that was a win! We were also able to send 8 boxes of food back with the kids that will be used for a cooking activity this week for the 5th Block program. “The best part for me was watching the kids come in and seeing how excited they were,” Hillary said. “I loved watching them fill their plates and just knowing we were able to provide that for them was a great feeling.  I was pleasantly surprised at how many kids like pumpkin pie! Sometimes their taste buds will surprise you! All the kids were so good and polite (as they are every year)!” The day was a complete success, and we are already looking ahead to Give Thanksing 2018!  ...
CommunityOffice EnvironmentUncategorized

Written by Jordan Pottorff, CTB Monday marked the first total solar eclipse that was visible from coast-to-coast across the contiguous United States since 1918, and to say people were excited for it would be the understatement of the year. The national media covered the eclipse for what seemed like the entire day, social media was buzzing with eclipse-related posts, and people came in droves to areas of totality to witness the rare natural phenomenon. Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL, was the epicenter of the event and the town expected an influx of over 45,000 people for the viewing of the eclipse. Surrounding towns, national parks and roadways also saw increased traffic as southern Illinois became one of the most prominent places in the country for the day. With us being based in Olney, which is a small town in southeastern Illinois and just a couple hours away from Carbondale, we had the privilege of seeing nearly 98% totality at our peak time of 1:22 pm. We did what millions of others did across the country by purchasing our official eclipse glasses and celebrating with moon-themed foods while stepping outside to catch glimpses from time to time. Despite it being an overcast day, the hours and minutes leading up to our peak viewing time looked promising but as it got closer to 1:22 dark clouds started to form over our office and eventually ended up blocking the eclipse completely when it mattered most. We did get to witness the sky change to what it would look like in the early evening and confused cicadas began to chirp, but to summarize it briefly; it was a letdown. Our viewing area and the forecast leading up to Monday made it seem like we were in for a treat, and although it was still a cool event to witness, the hype didn’t materialize. What we had all hoped to see was blocked by a dark cloud. It was your typical “Aww, shucks” moment. I’m sure you can point to several moments in your life where the hype of an event didn’t materialize and you really had no choice but to accept it and make the best of the situation. A dark cloud put a damper on our day but I learned this morning that Olney will be in complete totality when the next total solar eclipse dawns on us on April 8, 2024. You can bet the nation will be watching again, and for our sake let’s hope it’s a cloudless day....
Community

Written By Justin Hatten, CTB One of the values at AM Transport Services is community as employees participate in local events throughout the year. On August 5, AM Transport Carrier Managers Joe Eagleson, Sam Rodgers and Colby Shawver took part in the seventh annual Richland County Recreation Council White Squirrel Triathlon with Eagleson pedaling 14.6 miles on his bicycle, Rodgers competing in the 5K run and Shawver swimming 200 meters for the “Transport Bandits.” The trio placed third out of seven teams in the male division with a time of 1:15:04.80, behind Unfair Advantage (1:08:22.60) and Splash, Flash and Dash (1:12:56.95). Competing in his first triathlon, Eagleson finished the leg in 46:30 on his Kona Jake CX, a cyclocross bike built to withstand terrain that varies from asphalt and gravel to dirt and mud. “The White Squirrel Triathlon was a blast,” said Eagleson, who puts in 50 to 75 miles a week, riding to work nearly every day. “I enjoyed how many competitors encouraged each other throughout the bike portion the most.  I heard ‘Good job’ or ‘Keep it up’ plenty of times, even though everyone was huffing and puffing their way down Saint Marie Road. “The main preparation I made was riding up hills to get ready for the Saint Marie Road hill that I would have to ride over twice.” Rodgers runs 15 to 20 miles each week and recorded a 3.1-mile time of 22:40 during his first triathlon. “Definitely not the last,” Rodgers said. “I will be doing some full triathlons in the future for sure. “It was a great experience and a fun atmosphere. Everyone involved was very friendly and welcoming. They gave out some awesome swag to participants. It was absolutely perfect weather to be out and about.” With the temperature in the 50s the night before and at race time Saturday morning, Shawver braved chilly water at Olney’s Musgrove Aquatic Center to clock a time of 4:57. “It was pretty frigid but after the initial shock, the adrenalin kicked in and took over,” said Shawver, who swam several times a week in the pool at his house training for his triathlon debut. “I loved it. A lot of the community was cheering on everyone. I will do it next year also.” Commitment is another AM Transport value, which the “Transport Bandits” showed while working as a team to earn a top-three finish....
Community

Written by Justin Hatten At AM Transport Services, hard work is mixed with fun. Throughout the course of the year, AM Transport employees participate in a variety of social events, culminating with the Christmas party. To kick off 2017, AM Transport hosted its first Chili Cook-Off on January 13 as judges picked winners based on five categories – aroma, texture, flavor, initial bite and lingering bite.  Eight cooks participated with Jesse Baker (spiciest chili), Laura Matthews (judge’s choice) and Colby Shawver (people’s choice) crowned champions. A St. Patrick’s celebration and AM Transport Bowl-A-Rama was held on March 17 as Bert Lathrop earned top honors, rolling a personal-best 203. A week later, AM Transport employees laced up the sneakers and showcased their basketball skills during the March Madness Shootout, won by Chad Martin, who upset top-seeded Connor Dixon in the championship round to take home the trophy that currently resides on his desk. In May, the AM Transport team took part in National Bike to Work Day for the 12th-straight year and the company will hit the links on August 18, competing in the AM Transport Golf Outing followed by the Halloween party on October 27. In addition to the social activities, AM Transport recently hosted Kickoff to Summer featuring a limbo contest to start the day. For lunch, hot dogs and bratwursts were cooked by Jason Doris on R2BQ, AM Transport’s mobile grill. Along with bowling, basketball, and golf, employees go head-to-head in a bags tourney, play in the AMT Fantasy Football League and NCAA Tournament bracket challenge, participate in a weight-loss challenge and partake in the No Shave November mustache and beard contest with the winner announced during the Christmas party. Speaking of Christmas, AM Transport headed into the studio last winter, cutting the first-ever AMT Holiday Album last winter produced by Connor Dixon. AM Transport also prides itself in volunteering and participating in local programs and events, including Richland County Recreation Council Bunny Hop 5K, White Squirrel Triathlon, Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowl for Kids’ Sake, Richland County Middle School 5th Block and Musgrove Park Clean-Up Day headed by Joel Carey, who oversees the weekly summer landscape maintenance project at Musgrove Park as well. Giving back to the community of Olney is just as important to AM Transport as serving customers and carriers....
CommunityOffice Environment

By Michael McKinney, CTB When I heard our people were making a Christmas album, I was a bit nonplussed—my eyebrows furrowed, and a bah-humbug sigh escaped my pursed lips. You see, my first reaction or instinct about something is often not in line with my beliefs. I can be a little narrow and reactive—driven by the urgency of now, by productivity and efficiency. It’s not a trait I treasure; however, I am lucky to be surrounded in my workplace by creative people whose love of fun can bring unexpected and long-ranging benefits to all of us who work at AM Transport. Take the Christmas Album as an example—talk about a labor of love and creativity. Now you might be wondering, as I was, what in the heck are we doing producing a Christmas album—we’re here to generate revenue. It’s a pretty good question—one I’ve been pondering. First of all, I’ll give you a little information about our Christmas Album Who Knows Christmas: These Guys! The album features 13 full-length Christmas favorites from Blue Christmas to Winter Wonderland with the additional full-office rendition of We Are the World. Out of 32 on staff, 22 participated in the making of the album. We had duets and trios. People gave up their after-work time to sing songs together. As I watched it coming together, as I saw first-hand the excitement and genuine cooperation that went into the making of the album, I began to realize that the music itself was a gift to AM Transport, a gift that would create long-lasting bonds. Let’s talk about vulnerability. Brené Brown, whose ground-breaking research has resulted in the famous TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability as well as the best-selling books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly, asserts that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation and creativity.” Now that’s pretty interesting, as most of us think of vulnerability as a very dark emotion, something we want to avoid because society tends to equate vulnerability with weakness. What if Brown is right, and vulnerability is essential to creativity and innovation? If that is true, then coming together as colleagues and creating a Christmas album might be the smartest thing the team at AM Transport could do. After all, can you be more vulnerable than you are when belting out Christmas songs in front of your colleagues and friends I had the pleasure of watching the joy and exhilaration in the people who sang songs together and alone for the Christmas album, and I began to realize how lucky I am to spend my days with a group of people willing to initiate and participate in team-building activities that other companies might pay thousands of dollars for. Vulnerability may well be at the heart of creativity and innovation, but I believe it is also an important component of what researcher Amy Edmondson calls “psychological safety” in the workplace. In Charles Duhhig’s excellent book about cultivating productivity in business and life, Smarter, Faster, Better,Edmondson defines psychological safety as “a shared belief, held by members of a team, that the group is a safe place for taking risks,” as well as “a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up.” It follows then, that what the participants in the Christmas album felt as fun, exciting, creative, and joyful also helped to cultivate in them a sense of psychological safety in their work groups. Singing is hard work. Let’s be honest—singing in the shower is nothing like singing in front of colleagues and friends. There is a vulnerability inherent in the act of throwing our voices out into the world. Each time one of the AMT crooners did this amazing thing, he or she received not only acceptance but encouragement. This cannot help but grow confidence in the group as a whole, confidence that this team is a safe place. And as if “psychological safety” were not enough of a benefit, I was pleased to see the singers stretching beyond their comfort zones, taking risks. I firmly believe that this will translate to their work in teams and to the cohesiveness of the workplace. In fact, I ended up loving the idea so much, that I too participated on the group rendition of We Are the World and enjoyed first-hand the camaraderie and fun that comes from trying something new and risky with a group of friends and colleagues. I can’t wait to see what this creative group comes up with in the year to come. I plan to keep my furrowed brow to myself and jump right in....
CommunityIndustry NewsLeadership

A Much-Needed Slap to the Head By Michael McKinney, CTB Often we don’t even know we are sleeping. Let me explain; a few weeks ago, I attended a Small Giants Passport Event in Boston with David Abell. It was a much-needed wake-up call—a metaphorical slap-to-the-head! AMT belongs to a group called Small Giants. Small Giants is a collective of business leaders who heartily believe in making money but “share a passion for values-driven leadership, committing to let purpose and people drive our strategies rather than financials.”[1] Within the Small Giants group, we’ve found other small to mid-size businesses who want to make a difference not only in the lives of their employees, but in the community at large. Passport Events are offerings from Small Giants that bring together 20 values-driven business leaders for intimate conversation and workgroup discussions and in-depth visits to some very successful value-driven businesses. In Boston, we were lucky enough to visit the successful and warm business workplace of Life is Good. I was excited to visit Life is Good as in the McKinney household, we are the proud wearers of Life is Good t-shirts. The highlight of touring Life is Good was the opportunity to hear co-founder Bert Jacobs talk about the company he and his brother John founded in 1994 and to talk to him about what is important to him as a business leader. Theirs is an amazing story about resilience and optimism. In fact, the mission statement of Life is Good is to spread the power of optimism. Bert explains that believing in optimism isn’t an exercise in blindly accepting what is, but rather an empowering belief in open-heartedness and open-mindedness. Being optimistic doesn’t only inspire us to do good, it also feels good. Something I found most interesting about the Life is Good mission is that Bert says that mission—to spread the power of optimism—underlies everything they do in the company. When things have been tough, that mission gives them something to fall back upon. Everything they do must help them spread the power of optimism. What a powerful mission! In support of that mission, Life is Good donates a full 10% of its profits to support children in need due to violence, poverty or illness. The trip to Boston rejuvenated me, and it inspired and continues to inspire me to be more optimistic in my own life. Bert Jacobs gave us an effective method of generating optimism in our daily lives. It’s easy and makes a difference. I’m calling it my new “Get-to Pledge.” Here’s how it works: When my daughter has her fourth ball game in as many days, Instead of saying, “I have to attend another ball game,” with an irritated tone, I say, “I get to see my talented, healthy kid play ball tonight.”  It works across the spectrum—GET TO instead of HAVE TO. Try it a few times, and you will see. And speaking of talented kids—when I arrived home from Boston, I was so excited about the trip that I was discussing it with my daughter Madeline who is a high school freshman and a wonderful artist. We talked about optimism and its power to change lives. Inspired by our conversation, she drew this great picture I will leave you with.   [1] From the Small Giants Website...