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!