Office Environment

CareerOffice Environment

Most people don’t get the opportunity to work with their Dad—and through that, to see him every day. I’m really going to miss that and his overall presence.—Erik Jensen January 11, 2018, was a bittersweet day for the folks at AM Transport because it was the day they said Goodbye to retiring Eric Jensen, fondly referred to as Coach, who has worked with the company since its earliest days in 1991 when AM Transport was located in the McKinney cabin at Vernor Lake. Eric joined Avery and the two of them worked long days in those early years at the cabin where their small workspace was dominated by two desks and two telephones. So much has changed in the intervening years. Avery, the founder of AM Transport and Eric’s father-in-law, retired a few years ago, and now it’s Eric’s turn. Eric remembers those early years fondly. “Because it was only the two of us,” he says, “I would man the phones while Avery went out on calls. We didn’t even have cell phones back then,” he laughs, “Avery would call in new loads on pay phones. The business has really changed.” Eric’s coworkers and friends at AM Transport are going to experience a new sort of change when Coach’s familiar face is no longer there to greet them in the morning. “I’m legitimately going to miss Eric around AMT,” says David Abell. “In a world where we are always trying to optimize and squeeze more hours in a day, it’s always nice to take a break and shoot the shit with Eric. He has taught me a lot about empathy, humility, and maybe even imparted some of his left-leaning views.” Abell continues, “He’s the best golf partner of all time, hands down. He makes you feel so good about yourself. You think you could play on the PGA Tour at the end of your game.” Eric’s ability to see the best in people is a common theme. Hillary Steber remembers, “Eric was always the one who made sure I was comfortable and confident here. I remember my first Saturday working, he made sure my code to the door worked. Anytime I run into him out of work, he asks how things are going, and actually remembers what I have going on that weekend and asks about it. He’s genuinely interested in what I’m doing.” Connor Dixon claims that Eric “is the most kind-hearted man I think I’ve ever met in my life. He goes out of his way to make everyone he comes in contact with feel special and that is truly a quality that we could all learn to improve on with his natural guidance.” Colby Shawver echoes Dixon’s sentiments. “Eric is fun to be around anytime, and he really cares about your well-being. We’re going to miss Coach, but we plan to ask him to help set up for the annual Halloween party if he has time!” And Jordan Pottorff will miss talking baseball with Jensen, “He has a knowledge of the game I’ve never seen before. He’s an awesome guy!” Michael McKinney, Jensen’s brother-in-law and CEO of AM Transport, also recalls how different it was in those early days when he joined the family business, “Eric taught me how to use the big trucker atlas with the circle points and measuring shipment distances manually with a ruler.” He too admires Coach’s way with people. “Eric was always good at dealing with the more difficult and irrational customers,” he laughs. “Someone could call in pissed as ever, and Eric could diffuse the situation and have that same customer eating out of his hand by the end of the call. And he knows everyone in the office more personally than anyone else here. He listens well and shows honest interest. People want to tell him about their lives.” Jesse Baker, like David Abell, has fond memories of those company golf outings, “Coach pulled off an amazing feat at an outing two years ago,” Baker says. “On hole two, we were going after a rogue ball, and of course, I didn’t want to stop the golf cart, so Coach was going to scoop it up. I was driving a little too fast, and when I turned to get Coach an angle on the ball, he was tossed from the cart. Amazingly, he held onto the front post and ran with the cart as I did a 360 turn, and then he jumped back in. One of the most athletic things I’ve ever seen.” It’s obvious that Eric, Coach, Jensen will be missed around the offices of AM Transport, but he’s looking forward to retirement. He plans to spend a lot of time golfing and hanging out with his four grown kids, his three grandchildren and his wife of 28 years. And we’re pretty sure he’ll come in to visit and make his special coffee. After all, old habits are hard to break!...
Meet the TeamOffice Environment

Written By Erik Jensen CTB Here at AM Transport, we have a number of fun events and gatherings, but my personal favorite is our annual golf outing. This year’s outing took place last Friday (8/18) at Richland Country Club and didn’t disappoint! Golf balls flew everywhere and laughs rumbled all over course. The outing is such a great time it’s easy to forget the hard work and the heightened anticipation in the office the week before the event. Here is a quick pre-golf-outing primer. Q: Who plans the event? A: Hillary and Rob do the lion’s share of the work in making the event come together. Q: Who takes part in the event?  A: Employees of A.M. Transport and their spouses. This year we had 8 teams and 33 participants. Q: How are the teams decided? A: No one truly knows how the teams are decided, and this remains one of the big mysteries in the AMT office. We all want to know who this year’s teammates will be, but we aren’t informed until the Friday Morning Meeting. At this point, the anticipation level has peaked and we are all ready to roll. The most difficult thing for some of us (yours truly) is getting through the rest of the day! Q: What takes place at the golf course? A: Well, golf of course, duh! Most of us arrived at Richland Country Club a little after 5 PM and we hit the links at 5:30. Each golf cart came with a cooler full of cold beverages and a boatload (guess I should have said “cartload”) of fun. Once we finished up on the course we all met in the pavilion to share pizza and horror stories from our round on the course. Q: Who won? A: After a bit of debate, it seems that Team One ( Michael, Heath, Hillary and Brittany) came away with the victory. Team Three (Coach “Old Eric”, David, Connor and Alyicia) claimed to finish their round nine under par, but no one believed them, rightfully. Coach’s teams have a tendency to fib just a bit. All in all, the golf outing is a great time. It gives us a chance to hang out after work and cut back while doing it. Anticipation for next year’s event is building already!...
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....
3PLHealthOffice EnvironmentSelf Improvement

By Erik Jensen, CTB My wife Hannah and I are expecting the arrival of our firstborn child any day now. The emotions we feel leading up to the big day are often overpowering, but the predominant feeling is joy. I still remember the out-of-the-world happiness I experienced when I found out Hannah was pregnant. It was right around Halloween and we were getting dressed for the annual A.M. Transport Halloween Party (which is a blast, by the way). It was hard keeping the good news to ourselves, but we managed to have a great time anyway. Waiting for our baby to be born is difficult, especially these past couple of weeks when I know it could happen any moment. And even though I understand that it’s out of my hands, patience has never been one of my strengths. So I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I admit that when I want something, I want it immediately or yesterday if possible. So waiting a full nine plus months? This seemed impossible. My only glimmer of hope was the possibility of finding out the gender of the baby—which my wife quickly dashed with an iron fist. Ugh. I wasn’t super happy about this, but then again, I’m not the one carrying the baby. So once again, my patience was tested. Fast-forward 38 weeks and things still haven’t changed—this patience thing is really hard. Just a couple weeks ago we had our final ultrasound and I was tempted to take a sneak a peek even though I was told to put my head down and cover my eyes (I’m assuming I could have found out the sex).  And even though I really wanted to, I didn’t. When I think about that moment now, I’m happy I didn’t look. It’s hard to be patient, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Seeing my kid for this first time and finding out if it’s a boy or a girl will be the apex of my life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I plan on carrying this new-found patience into my career at A.M. Transport. Yes, I will still want things to happen quickly and hope for expedient email responses, but sometimes it ok to wait for a bit. Life is like a fine wine, with age and time, things become divine....
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....