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Everyday Hero Profile:  Kenneth 'Took' Laraux

Posted on Wed, Jun 17, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Took Laraux, Captain at Bering Marine in Bethel, Alaska.

Everyday Hero Kenneth Took LaRauxName: Kenneth 'Took' Laraux

Company: Bering Marine Corporation

Title: Captain

On the job since: 1997

Superpower: Reading the river

Hometown: Bethel, AK

Bucket List Destination: Anywhere where there are more animals than people

For Fun: Fishing and hunting

How did you start your career at Lynden?
My dad, Butch, owned United Transportation with some partners and delivered fuel and freight on the Kuskokwim River. In the mid-1980s Crowley bought the company. I ran my own barge for awhile, the Elsie-M. It is a 66-foot landing craft that my son Gux now owns. I started working for Bering Marine in 1997. I have worked for Bering Marine, the hovercraft operation, Knik, Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska Marine Trucking and other companies along the Kuskokwim River in Alaska and other places. My son, Gux, works for Bering Marine, too. He is in charge of the hovercraft operation.

What is a typical day like for you?
I go pretty much nonstop with the tug and barge from April to late October. In the winter season I help my son with the hovercraft. There are so many different things happening in the Kuskokwim area that I may be working on projects for Knik or other companies week to week. I am not just the captain on the Arctic Gull tug but am also the engineer and deckhand depending on what is needed at the time. I can operate cranes or other kinds of equipment if help is needed loading barges.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Weather and keeping equipment running. Also staying on time with marine schedules and dealing with tides, wind and the water level on the river.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business, equipment, customers or technology?Better equipment that makes it less likely to break down or need as much maintenance.

What project are you most proud of?
I have been told that I have hauled more aggregate (rock) down the Kuskokwim River to Bethel and other Knik job locations than any other vessel captain. I am pretty good at navigating uncharted water on the river. I can repair equipment if needed and get it back up and running so there is no lost time at a job site. I try to think of the most efficient way of getting a job done. I like to get the assignment, talk about options and then get it done ahead of schedule.

Can you tell us about your growing up years?
I was born in Bethel. I have five brothers and sisters. My wife and I have three sons and two daughters. I did some commercial fishing on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers starting in the 1970s and also some trapping over the years.

What would surprise most people about you?
I got my nickname of 'Took' by riding on tugboats with my father. The motor made a 'took, took' sound and I would make that sound as a little boy. It stuck and now I am known more by Took than my given name of Kenneth.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I fish for salmon and hunt for moose and caribou. Every winter I go into the woods and cut firewood to give to elders in the community of Bethel and surrounding villages on the coast. I also hunt for them so they have food during the winter months, usually caribou. I have a lot of snow machines and sometimes make sleds to tow behind them. Spend some time woodworking, too.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: Karter Koelsch

Posted on Tue, May 19, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Karter Koelsch, Freight Operations Lead at Alaska Marine Trucking in Juneau, Alaska.

Everyday Hero Karter KoelschName: Karter Koelsch

Company: Alaska Marine Trucking

Title: Freight Operations Lead

On the job since: 1998

Superpower: Organization

Hometown: Juneau, AK

Favorite Movie: Serenity: Firefly

Bucket List Destination: Galapagos Islands

For Fun: Date nights, hiking with my kids, playing on league softball and volleyball teams

How did you start your career at Lynden?
My dad knew Don Reid when he was the Port Manager at Arrowhead Transfer. Don called my dad and told him they needed part-time summer help, so starting in 1992, I was a swamper for the summer and then spent Sundays during the winter unloading Lynden trailers with Brian Lopez.

After that I went to the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, earned my AA and then attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins. In 1996 I came back to Juneau and started working in the Alaska Marine Lines warehouse while I took classes.

I moved up to checker and then started driving box trucks and making deliveries. In 2001, after about 3 years of driving, they promoted me to the yard to load and unload barges, help customers and manage the daily work there.

What is a typical day like for you?
No day is typical. Our days depend on when the barges arrive. I'll check the barge schedules to see the estimated time of arrival. I wake up Sunday morning and look at the ETA. From Petersburg to Juneau is 12 hours so I have that much notice to get the yard set up for the barge – making sure the manpower is where it needs to be, setting it up so the trucks and customers can get in. We are the first ones in when the barges arrives and the last ones out, sending it on its way.

We also need to know what is coming up on the barge from Seattle. You want to get the barge in and out as quickly as possible so the crew doesn't miss a tide to get to the next port. We have containers that come off, but also flats of palletized freight that need to go into the warehouse for our warehouse crew to break down and deliver.

When the first northbound barge comes in, it takes six hours to get it unloaded and reloaded. Then it goes up to Haines, Skagway and Kensington. We have to clear the yard and set it back up with our southbound freight and empty containers we are sending back down to Seattle, making sure we leave enough room for the other ports. In between the barges arriving, we all head home for some sleep. It's not a 24-hour schedule but the hours can definitely vary depending on weather delays and other factors. Sunday to Wednesday is the busy time and Thursday and Friday are our recovery days where we prepare for the next week.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Weather. Wind is a big issue in Juneau. We have the Taku winds named after the Taku Inlet. We can sometimes get 100 mph gusts. It's tough to work in that kind of environment. We have to make sure everything is secure. One day we had to shut down which was the right call. We wear protective gear to protect us against rain and snow but it still gets pretty cold up here. Sometimes customers don't understand that we are dealing with weather and many other issues to get the barges up to Juneau. They have high delivery expectations and usually we meet those expectations, but we are also at the mercy of things out of our control. Right now we are the best friends of everyone in Southeast because we have continued to deliver toilet paper, masks and other essentials they need during the COVID crisis!

What are you most proud of in your career?
Every year our family goes to Hawaii and when I return to work some customers tell me they are glad I'm back. That always makes me feel good that I have regulars who like to deal with me. The most rewarding thing I have done is training some of our employees to operate a forklift or earn a Class A CDL. I really enjoy being a mentor.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I grew up in Juneau with my parents Ken and Marian and a younger sister Amber. My parents still live in Juneau and they have been helping us with online school and childcare during the COVID changes. My wife Deborah is a nurse and she is working from home so my parents have been taking our three kids and helping with classwork. Our three kids are Kaylee, 12, Fiona, 9 and Kendell, 5.

My dad taught high school English and American Government and also directed n musicals and the school newspaper. He was very popular with his students. You can't go anywhere in Juneau without someone knowing him. Three or four nights a week we would have kids at our house for extra help with schoolwork.

I grew up swimming and playing soccer, basketball and baseball. In high school I lettered and competed at state all four years in cross country, swimming, track, student government, and high school spring musicals. I also played competitive soccer in the summer leagues.

Both my parents grew up on farms in Michigan so we would go back and visit family there. When I was 4, my Dad did a teacher exchange in Australia. We stayed in Melbourne for a year. We all went back in 1987 to travel around and reconnect with people there. The U.S. had lost the American's Cup for the first time, so we went down and watched Dennis Connor get that back in Perth. We rented a van and went all over the country.

I live on Douglas Island so I cross a bridge to get to Juneau for work. Our house has 8-foot windows and a view. Those 8-foot windows really start to vibrate when we get the high winds.

What was your first job?
I mowed lawns for two neighbors. They each paid me in a six pack of coke and a case of beer for my Dad. That went on for a couple of summers until I rebelled. My first paying job was working in a tourist arts and craft gift shop called Annie Kaill in Juneau. I was the box boy. The coolest perk was the jelly beans. I was always eating them.

What would surprise most people about you?
I have visited almost 50 countries in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and the South Pacific.

I've had a bunch of sports injuries and broken bones, but once a doctor had to break a bone for me. I was skateboarding in Australia. I went down a hill too fast, bailed and landed on my wrist. The bone was bent, but not broken, so the docs numbed me up, held my arm and broke it for me. They had to make sure it would heal straight. That was in 7th grade.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I like gardening, landscaping and working with wood. I also play poker with a bunch of buddies. We play for money but the most I've ever won is $100. I also play league softball on a men's team and on a co-ed volleyball team.

What do you like best about your job?
The sense of accomplishment. Even though you are pretty worn out after, it's a good feeling to put all the pieces in the right place to receive a barge and then set others up to carry on after it leaves your port. We all pull together to deal with adversity, like plowing the yard out after a big snow, or an unexpected summer shuttle barge. I also enjoy our tie with Alaskan Brewery and the other breweries up here. We ship everything from bottles to kegs both northbound and southbound. This winter we supported a tram project in Hoonah through Channel Construction barges. It's always something new at Alaska Marine Trucking, and we are a key component in everyone else's success.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: Matthew Malmkar

Posted on Mon, Apr 20, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Matthew Malmkar, Dispatcher at Brown Line in Mt. Vernon, Washington.

Everyday Hero Matthew MalmkarName: Matthew Malmkar

Company: Brown Line

Title: Dispatcher

On the job since: 2016

Superpower: Seeing the big picture

Hometown: Grant, Nebraska

Favorite Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bucket List Destination: The island of Madagascar

For Fun: Travel, following politics and finance, and playing poker at casinos

How did you start your career at Lynden?
After leaving the Navy in 2014, I earned my CDL and was looking for a new career. My brother Michael was a Brown Line driver for many years, and I started driving with him as a team in 2016. We drove together for four months and then a family medical situation required him to move back to Nebraska so he left the company. Together, we drove to Los Angeles, Houston and Alaska a few times for Brown Line. I kept driving locally and was then promoted to dispatch at the end of last year.

What is a typical day like for you?
I live 45 minutes away in Oak Harbor, WA, so I have a commute to work in Mount Vernon, but I don't mind because I am very proud of my waterfront property. My back yard is a state park with beautiful views of the water. I picked a job to be close to where I live.

My typical day varies. We are going through a big change to implement new software for our operating system so my hours are flexible these days. I often arrive about 10 a.m. and work until 8 p.m. I have sometimes needed to stay until 2 a.m. to take care of changes. It's a big hurdle for everyone here, so we are all pulling together.

What has been most challenging in your career?
In dispatch, we sometimes deal with urgent issues the minute we sit down to start the day. Dispatchers are often in the eye of the storm. It's always helpful to see things from the other person's perspective (driver or customer) and where they are coming from. It takes a whole team to do the work we do every day.

What is your military background?
I served in the United States Navy from 1993 to 2014. During that time I was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and flew off an aircraft carrier in S3B Vikings aircraft. I started in the military as an enlisted and retired as an officer. I earned my pilot's license while in the military.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I received the Driver of the Month and Driver of the Year Awards for Brown Line and am very proud of that. I also have been asked to train other employees, which is a privilege. Brown Line management promoted me from driver to dispatcher last year. It was, and still is, my plan to move up the ladder and into operations here.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I was born in a small town in Nebraska. I am the oldest of three. I have a younger brother and sister and my parents live with me in Oak Harbor. I'm single with a 23-year old daughter. She just finished college at Western Washington University in Bellingham and still lives there.

What was your first job?
I refueled planes at a dirt airstrip in Nebraska. I have always been interested in aviation.

What would surprise most people about you?
I am pretty good at poker and have made a lot of money playing in casinos. I just returned from a trip to New Zealand and Australia. In my 20-year military career I have flown over a lot of countries and was stationed in Japan for six months. One place I haven't visited is South America. I would love to see Argentina and Brazil.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I like to play games. I have played a lot of poker at casinos over the years and have made a profit the past two years from my games, but I don't play that much anymore.

One of my goals is to have a tranquil balance of life and work. There is always stress, but you have to know your limits and when you are running low on reserves and nearing burnout. If you are facing an obstacle, you have to keep the faith that you can make it up to and past the peak and over to the other side.

What do you like best about your job?
The challenge of trying to keep the loads and drivers going where they need to go. I have been a driver myself, so I think I make a pretty good dispatcher. My experience with the military helps, too. Organization and communication are key in my past role in the Navy and my new role in dispatch at Brown Line.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: Cathy Doyle

Posted on Mon, Mar 16, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Cathy Doyle, Customs District Manager at Lynden Canada Co. in in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Everyday Hero March Cathy Doyle, Lynden Canada Co.Name: Cathy Doyle

Company: Lynden Canada Co.

Title: Customs District Manager

On the job since: 1989

Superpower: Perfect Attendance

Hometown: Fort Erie, Ontario

Favorite Movie: The Sound of Music

Bucket List Destinations: Thailand and Scotland

For Fun: Watching my children's basketball and soccer games, decorating, home renovation projects and spending time with family and friends.

How did you start your career at Lynden?
I worked for customs broker Key Customs for many years. It was purchased by Lynden approximately 12 years ago. I started working in the customs business right out of high school. I was only 16 when I graduated and turned 17 that summer. My first job was working for my father, who was a customs broker. They had an employee out on maternity leave and I filled in for the summer. I had planned to go to college to be a lawyer, but I really liked the full-time paycheck. I stayed there, bought a car and kept on working. I ended up taking customs courses over the years and, finally, the Customs Broker Professional examination issued by Canada Customs. I completed several years of courses to improve my knowledge and skills.

What is a typical day like for you?
It's never the same. You get up in the morning and think you have your day planned. You have work from the day before, imports to work on, etc., but you come in and a million things come at you at the same time. I almost always stay late; there are times I don't get home until 10 p.m., especially in the summer. Many of our customers have seasonal freight with a large volume increase for their shipments in the summer. That season is always our busiest. We have a client that does asphalt paving and imports oil for the roads. They ship to companies all over Canada and it's nonstop in the summer. I almost always eat lunch at my desk, and I have a cupboard of snacks that the whole office knows about. Recently our office supervisor, Jennifer, has taken over a majority of my duties so I am freed up to do other tasks with clients such as meeting new regulations and trying to expand our business into more freight and warehousing.

I am trying to get the word out that we offer much more than just customs brokerage. I'm setting up meetings and selling the business. Many of our customers have been with us 15 to 20 years. I have dealt with them regularly over the years and they come to me with questions. We have a good rapport and a well-established relationship. I enjoy that part of the job.

What has been most challenging in your career?
There have been many challenges recently, and mostly in the past two years or so. Lynden Canada not only was in the midst of re-structuring, but also changing onto the new system CargoWise for all customs clearance and freight. Recently we are trying to go paperless with the CargoWise system for customs clearance, freight and invoicing. We switched systems almost two years ago and that has been a big change. There have been a lot of changes in customs at the same time as well. Other Canadian government departments are going electronic which requires more information from our customers for import of their products.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business, customers or technology?
Customs has been electronic for numerous years, but they have recently gone to a different system which incorporates other government departments as well. It's a single window entry. We are asked to provide much more detailed information and use 'single windows' for all imports of our clients products into Canada, which incorporates all other government departments and their regulations. It's all in an effort to make the borders more secure and to make sure that customers are being compliant with the imports. We all support this, but the changes are a lot to keep up with at times, and can be very challenging.

When I started with Lynden Canada, we had a computer system, but our client base was handled manually with a few binders containing data, client agreements, products and special notes for each client. It was filled with each client's import details, importer numbers, specific billing instructions, etc. We also cleared their shipments through Canada Customs using hard copies of import forms and information provided by them was done through either telex or fax. If you needed additional information on their products and it had to be in writing, I remember the telex would ding.

Drivers could sometimes stand in line waiting for an hour or two at customs for clearance on any given day, especially during the busy seasons. They would have to put their paperwork in a tray and wait for a release before they could leave. You also could have over 100 trucks parked in the customs compound at certain times throughout the day. Today, the drivers do not even have to get out of their trucks. Everything is electronically handled by the brokers on behalf of the clients as well as by the carriers, dispatchers and drivers who are required to provide all details electronically to Canada Customs. All commercial carriers must also be customs registered to carry commercial goods, and all drivers must be pre-approved as well.

At our Fort Erie office where I am located, we handle all the import clearance for trucks and air shipments (except Toronto airport). We also handle every border crossing throughout Canada from east to west. Each one of our imports team members has assigned ports which they would handle. On any given day we may clear between 60 and upwards of 90 to 100 import shipments.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I am the oldest of three children in my family. I have two younger brothers, one which is only a year and half younger than me, so we were very close but also fought quite often growing up as all siblings do.

My family was into sports. I did figure skating (competed for 10 years), gymnastics for about 15 years and played baseball when I was younger. I had figured skated until high school graduation. I played in a girls' softball league growing up and as an adult played local softball as a pitcher in a mixed league from age 17 to 26. I also bowled for over 25 years, and for a majority of those years in the customs bowling league. I do not play softball any longer but I do still bowl on occasion when time allows.

I have two daughters ages 24 and 18. One is currently in college and the other graduated a couple of years ago. My youngest daughter chose to continue with basketball after high school and currently plays college varsity basketball. My oldest daughter has since graduated college in the physio therapy field a couple of years ago, but while in high school she had chosen soccer as her sport while attending college and she had played for three years on the women's varsity soccer team.

What was your first job?
I babysat as a teen. We had neighbors with young children and every summer I would work for two different families. I was 14 years old and babysat a newborn baby and a 2-year-old for one family. I would go to their house at 7:30 a.m., get their kids and then go to the second family's house where there were two more kids, ages 3 to 5. I would babysit the whole group in one house, by myself, from 8:30 to 5 p.m. every day, five days a week.

What would surprise most people about you?
I skipped a grade while in elementary school and graduated from high school at age 16.

I did hold the women's high average for bowling in Fort Erie mixed league, until I quit three years ago. And I also took the bowling title numerous times for ladies high single, high triple and average several years in a row. My mother and I were always in competition for those titles as she was a bowler also. I started bowling because of my parents.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
My husband and I are just recently first time empty nesters. We are updating and renovating our nest by undertaking all sorts of home improvement projects. Since this summer we have redone the flooring throughout the upstairs, painted and redone the kitchen. I am doing it all myself, with his assistance. We had also gutted the bathroom and redid that, as well as painted and redecorated the bedrooms, family room and living room so far.

Throughout the past 12 to 15 years, we spent a lot of time traveling throughout Ontario as well as the U.S. to support both of our daughters' sports careers. As our youngest daughter played basketball in the summers for a Buffalo, New York based team, we would spend our summer vacation usually in Indiana, Philadelphia and Kentucky as well as all over New York state for long weekend tournaments.

We also try, as a family, to get to Wasaga Beach near Collingwood, Ontario every year, even if just for a weekend with our daughters and or even their friends. It's an annual vacation we take to a friend's cottage every year since my children were born, so we try to find the time each summer.

What do you like best about your job?
It's always challenging. I do not like repetition.

The most important thing is the team we have here in Fort Erie. Most of us have been here and together for 10 to 20 years. We also have a really good team in Milton. We are always helping each other out and can call each other at any time. In our office we are on call 24-7 for the drivers anyway, and always know how to get ahold of each other during off hours should the need arise. Each person is always willing to jump in to assist the others. Our staff in Fort Erie is like a close-knit family, and sometimes over the years we have actually spent more hours together at work then we did at home with our own families. We also make a point to celebrate each other's birthdays and Christmas every year and are constantly bringing in treats and coffee to share.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: Brett Roberts

Posted on Thu, Feb 20, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Brett Roberts, Lead Mechanic at Alaska West Express in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Everyday Hero Brett RobertsName: Brett Roberts

Company: Alaska West Express

Title: Lead Mechanic

On the job since: 1989

Superpower: Mechanical Diagnostics

Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

Favorite Movie: Pixar film Cars

Bucket List Destination: New Zealand

For Fun: Fishing, hunting and restoring a 1971 28-foot Uniflight Salty Dog vessel

How did you start your career at Lynden?
One of the drivers from the company I was working for heard about the job at Alaska West Express. I was 24 years old, single and ready for an adventure. I had an aunt and uncle that lived about 40 miles from Fairbanks, so I drove up in my 1977 Dodge pickup and stayed with them. I had always seen pictures of Alaska and said I was going to live there.

I interviewed with Leon Bender on a Friday and started work on Dec. 1, 1989 as a grease monkey servicing trucks. Even though I had two years of diesel mechanic training, I started where they needed me. Just because you know it doesn’t mean you get to do it. My dad was a mechanic and I worked at truck shops since I was 16. I may not be able to remember names, but I can take an engine apart and remember where everything goes!

What is a typical day like for you?
I get to work about 4:30 a.m. I have an 18 mile commute to the shop. No one lives in Fairbanks. It’s a rush minute instead of a rush hour. The vicinity is 100,000 people, but you are talking about an 80-mile circle. I have 2 ½ acres of land and that’s not big.

Lately we have been extremely busy so I have had a six-day work week. We service from 15 to 20 trucks and trailers each day in 11 bays in our shop. They leave in the morning by 7 or 8 a.m., that’s the driver’s goal. It takes them 15 hours to drive up the haul road depending on their load. They take 10 hours off, then drive back 12 hours. Other trucks are headed to the Pogo gold mines or hauling military freight or going to Anchorage.

Our mechanics do a full inspection on each 1,100-mile trip the trucks make up the haul road. We check for broken springs, bad U-joints, broken lights and check the brakes. We do a chassis lube with the power greaser and check the driver’s report for anything electrical or any engine issue. Sometimes the trucks turn quick, other times they are in the shop for two or three days depending on the condition. Trucks take a beating on the haul road (Dalton Highway). It’s different than any other road in the Lower 48. Up here, the frozen, hard ice roads are better than the roads during the spring and summer. Once the thaw starts, you may be chaining up just to get through the mud! Our weather ranges from 100 degrees to 50 below.

I am restoring two heavy duty off-road trucks from Red Dog Mine that will soon be put to use at Prudhoe Bay. They have three axles and we start at the front bumper and work to the back, rebuild motors and wiring and eventually repaint these trucks.

I was already building trannies in high school. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or curse but I have mechanical ability. From bumper to bumper on a truck, I can figure it out or I will learn it. I sometimes do trainings here to teach new employees. I work with 20 other mechanics. With so much going on, it doesn’t matter if you’re fixing a transmission, rebuilding a rear end, swapping a rear end or electrical… I don’t do service very much. I help other guys after they find a problem.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Electronic engines. I’m not a computer guy, but I’ve had to become a computer guy to work on the new engines. The funny thing is my boy is a computer programmer. He writes programs for computers. I don’t even like carrying a cell phone. Alaska West Express sent me to Freightliner electronic computer training in 1994. I muddle through it, but it’s not how I used to do things.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business, customers or technology?
Electronic engines and brakes are now all ABS. When I started there was no ABS brake systems. Now we have electronic transmissions and all LED lighting. Equipment and parts have improved. From tires to wires, it’s all more reliable and lasts longer. They are making a better product. The trucks are way more dependable than they used to be.

What project(s) are you most proud of?
Getting trucks back on the haul road quickly and safely is probably the biggest thing, but I also went to Hawaii with Jeff McKenney last year to set up a Smit-tipper for a project. This piece of equipment is made up of about 4 trailer loads and was stored in Fairbanks. We had to get it down to Seattle, get it set up and test it before moving it to Hawaii for use with lime to help keep emissions down at a local power plant. I’ve been here so long I was one of only a few people who actually knew how to assemble it and use it. It took us a week on Oahu to get it set up with the auger and all the pieces. It’s 70 feet long when it’s all put together. I was also sent to Bethel, AK for a week to put together and test new Piston Bully snowcats and sleighs.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I come from a family of five kids. I have an older brother and three younger sisters. Mom is still living in the house where they brought me home from the hospital in South Dakota. After high school I went to technical school in Minnesota for two years and moved to Alaska shortly after. I have been married to my wife Talitha for 13 years and have a grown son Tyler. We also had a foster daughter for eight months in 2011.

What was your first job?
Besides pulling weeds on a farm, my first real job was putting up chain link fences at 13 years old.

What would surprise most people about you?
When I was in vocational school, I dropped a 3208 Caterpillar engine on my right thumb. It cut it right off. I had it sewed back on in Minneapolis, but it didn’t take and it had to come off again. I was 20. This was two weeks before graduation. It was a blow. I still don’t know why it happened to me, but when I went back to the doctor to have the thumb removed a second time, he asked me if I had a job yet. I thought I was going to be out of work. I started applying right away so the day I graduated from vo-tech school I had a job.

When something like that happens, you can’t let it ruin your life. It humbles you and you have to learn to cope. I am ambidextrous so that helped me adapt as a mechanic. I like to say it threw a monkey wrench in my plans, but I got through it.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I have five snow machines, two four-wheelers, a river boat and a motor home. I like to get out and hunt and fish in the winter. There aren’t too many roads, so I can go 50 miles in one direction and find good areas for hunting moose and caribou with muzzle loaders. My days off are Friday and Saturday so I can leave Thursday night and go out to hunt and fish then leave Saturday when people are just arriving. I also like going down to Valdez and fishing the rivers for pike and salmon.

I have a portable ice shack. I did a lot of ice fishing in South Dakota with my dad. That was his way of unwinding. He caught big fish and could’ve claimed state records, but he never turned anything in because he wanted to keep his fishing areas a secret. He broke the catfish record three times. He couldn’t lie, so he just didn’t say anything.

I also enjoy woodworking and building kitchen cabinets out of mahogany or oak. I’ve built cabinets for my parent’s home and done some restorations. My wife is an event planner so she asks me to make wooden centerpieces and tables for her weddings sometimes.

Last year, I also went to Papua New Guinea to help build a house for a missionary from our church.

What do you like best about your job?
I still get satisfaction when a truck leaves the shop and you know that it is safe and ready for the road and driver. That feels good. I’m here to help the company and make the company better in the end.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: Ray Henrichs

Posted on Thu, Jan 16, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Ray Henrichs, Equipment Operator for Knik Construction in Alaska.

Everyday Hero: Ray HenrichsName: Ray Henrichs

Company: Knik Construction Co.

Title: Equipment Operator

On the job since: 1990

Superpower: Resilience

Hometown: Soldotna, AK

Favorite Movie: Heat

Bucket List Destination: New Zealand

For Fun: Snowmobiling and spending time at his cabin in Caribou Hills on the Kenai Peninsula

How did you start your career at Lynden?
I was working for a paving company in Kodiak. A guy that worked with me was finishing the season running roller for Knik. He said they had a few weeks of work in Skagway for a screed operator. So I went to work for them at 24 years old. I flew up there and met Jim Kirsch. I got off the plane with long, bleached blond hair hanging down my back and I think Jim rolled his eyes when he first saw me. I grew up in the 80s and was a hair band/metal band guy. I had the hair to go with it. When I turned 40, I had 18 inches cut off. After I finished that first job with Knik, Jim told me there was more work for me if I was interested. It was a great job for a young man and it paid very well.

What is a typical day like for you?
Depending on the project, I may be traveling to a different location. If I am onsite at a camp, I wake up, eat breakfast and get to work.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Dealing with conditions at job sites. We have sub-zero temps, mud, ice, high winds, shifting earth or rock. Operating equipment safely while staying on schedule to get the job done is tough. Being gone for long periods with your work crew is sometimes a challenge for your family.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business, customers or technology?
The evolution of equipment and technology is pretty cool. I totally blame my parents for my career choice. They bought me Tonka trucks when I was a kid and now the trucks, loaders and dozers are just bigger.

What project(s) are you most proud of?
We have had some projects in extremely remote spots where it is hard to get a barge into the site. A winter job in Chefornak near Bethel stands out in my memory. Our assignment was to move almost a million yards of dirt in five weeks to build a new runway. We had to strip a pit, get building materials to the site while dealing with freezing temperatures and ice. Other projects in St. Paul, St. George and the Pribilof Islands were also memorable.

A few years ago we needed to move a hovercraft from Anchorage to the slope. We took it apart in Anchorage in the spring. Some of the parts are tiny stainless steel nuts and bolts that come in a drum. Taking it apart wasn't bad but we had to re-assemble the hovercraft outside in Prudhoe Bay when it was blowing and below zero. It took us over a week to do it, but we got it done.

In 1995, we worked on an oil spill response project in the village of Chenega, off Prince William Sound. Part of the job was in the winter, and the next part in summer. We built the dock, a road, cleared trees, built a pad and put in water lines. It was instant gratification to look at all we accomplished. Working for Knik is that way – especially paving jobs. You spend an entire year building what's under that asphalt, then you pave it in a few days. Everyone sees only the top 2 inches, but you know what went into building that roadway. Years later you can look at it and say 'I did that.'

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I have an adult stepdaughter from a previous marriage. She just moved to Idaho after graduating from high school. I grew up with four brothers in Soldotna. Most of my family moved down to Henderson, NV about 20 years ago, except for my dad who still lives in Alaska. He worked for BP for many years and just retired a few years ago. With five boys, we were put to work around the house – always had some project we were helping with.

When I was a kid, my family built a subdivision. I was hanging drywall at age 12 and digging ditches for culverts. We had a bunch of boys for free labor. My grandparents homesteaded in Soldotna in the early 1950s, so I grew up helping them build fence and bring in hay. I remember hiking down to the Kenai River and catching a fish with every cast.

I played baseball for awhile (third base and pitcher). My granddad taught me how to throw a curveball and a slider. He played in minor leagues in Texas in the 1930s. Once I got a car, I stopped playing and started working. I love cars. I had a 1974 Monte Carlo in high school. I bought a 1970 Camaro when I was in college and drove it up the Alcan to Alaska. At one point, I had a 1966 black-on-back Chevelle 4-speed with a 327 (engine). I am planning to attend the Barrett-Jackson car auction in January to see what I can find.

What was your first job?
My first job was working for my stepdad at a gravel pit. I learned my work ethic from him. I also worked in canneries, commercial fished a bit, worked at fast food and worked for the school district, doing the sound and light for the auditorium. I took anything that would pay.

What would surprise most people about you?
In 1984, I went to a specialty trade school in Southern California to learn computer programming. I graduated at the top of my class, but worked construction in Alaska in the summers and it paid more than an entry level job at Rockwell. I also disliked working indoors, so I abandoned that career. I am certified to program computer language like COBOL and Fortran. I was working with IBM mainframes, stacks of 16-inch disks and stacks of reel-to-reel tapes – all outdated stuff now.

I also like to cook and each year I host a New Year's Day brunch for 100 people at my cabin. I make Eggs Benedict and Bloody Mary's for all my friends their kids. I cook two prime ribs, two gigantic hams and use a couple hundred eggs to make the Eggs Ben. I have worked in bars before so I know how to mix drinks. I even worked the door at the Red Onion in Skagway at one point, checking ID and keeping an eye on things.

How do you spend your time outside of work?Ray Knik 1080x1080
I read a lot of books, do a lot of day and night hiking and spend time on my snow machines. I used to have seven, but now am down to three. When you work for a company like Knik, you work a lot of hours and basically just eat and sleep while you are at a remote project site. When you are off in the winter, you have time to really relax. I used to put 5,000 miles on my snowmobiles each year, but the snow isn't as good as it was and now I may ride only 1,000 miles a year. All my friends have cabins in Caribou Hills so we have a big circle that rides. I have been riding with their kids since they were 5 years old, and now we ride with their grandkids. I used to drag them out of holes when they got stuck, and now they are dragging me out!

What do you like best about your job?
I like working for a company that really makes me feel appreciated for the work I do and also gives me an opportunity to try new things. This year, I will be running an asphalt plant for Knik which I am looking forward to. This is a new job for me and I will be learning a lot while getting paid to do it. I also like the team aspect of working with other employees for long periods. We travel to projects as a crew and live in camps together for sometimes months at a time. The project managers are not above jumping in to help us out, which is another aspect I like about working for Knik. The managers get out of their employees what they put into their employees. This summer, we were shorthanded and needed someone to shovel and rake to help the screed operator. One of our managers was happy to help out. No job is below anyone at Knik.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile:  Kevin Gillies

Posted on Wed, Dec 18, 2019

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Kevin Gillies, Managing Director at Lynden International Logistics Co. in Calgary, Alberta.

Everyday Hero Kevin GilliesName: Kevin Gillies

Company: Lynden International Logistics Co.

Title: Managing Director

On the job since: 2000

Superpower: Leadership

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta

Favorite Movie: Braveheart

Bucket List Destination: St. Andrews ‘old course’ in Scotland for 18 holes

For Fun: Reading, spending time outdoors and at the family cottage in Saskatchewan

How did you start your career at Lynden?
I began my career with Lynden in late 2000 through an acquisition of Livingston Healthcare Services which became Lynden International Logistics Co. Lynden is now a leader in the warehousing and fulfillment of pharmaceuticals in Canada. I have over 40 years of service in the Logistics business and Lynden International Logistics Co. is a complex business model in a highly regulated and audited environment.

I started my career in this industry in 1977 working on the floor in a warehouse for Seaway Midwest, a Canadian company handling distribution of consumer goods and healthcare products. In 1983, Livingston bought Seaway Midwest, and I worked for Livingston until 2000 before joining Lynden. I moved up to supervisor, manager and continued taking on more senior leadership roles. By the early 80s, I was working predominantly in the health care distribution world, where I have spent the majority of my career handling all types of products within the healthcare portfolio.

What is a typical day like for you?
Working with the Lynden International Logistics Co. senior staff to provide direction for Lynden, meeting with both current and prospective clients, attending industry events and interacting with the various departments in our corporate offices in Seattle keeps me busy. I have traveled extensively for more than 30 years primarily within Canada from my home in Calgary to Toronto (my second home), with occasional trips to Montreal, Vancouver and Seattle for Lynden business meetings, and to other locations in North America as required. With the support of Lynden International and Lynden Inc., we have been able to continue to grow the business, adding a fourth Canadian Distribution Centre in Milton late in 2014. We are set to open a fifth location in Guelph in the spring of 2020. Both of these new locations are in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

What do you remember most about those early Lynden years in the business?
The transition was very smooth for all the staff that came over to join Lynden. While there were certainly a few bumps, we had great support from the late Dennis Patrick, Randy Jackson and all various head office support groups. Working with Dennis on the sale was certainly a new and very interesting experience for me as the details were being worked out. With the assets of Livingston being divided between Lynden and UPS it was a complex sale (as most are) but I began to see what made Dennis tick and how he thought his responses through before he spoke. He would always explain why he did things in a certain fashion and my impression of a silver fox at work began to form.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Probably making sure we keep replacing our excellent staff with the same caliber of people when they retire or leave. When we became part of Lynden in 2000, we were excited to find that one of the key Lynden mottos, closely followed the Livingston motto, is that you are only as successful as the people you have working for you. Everything that we have been able to accomplish is due to our excellent leaders and day-to-day folks providing excellent service. They are all part of the puzzle that makes us work effectively together. When a senior manager, office or warehouse staff retires, you forget how much knowledge they have after years with the company. Our goal is to bring in good people to fill those roles, train them and keep the momentum going that we have created.

Audits are also challenging. Our industry is highly regulated and we are required to participate in around 30 audits a year, both for our customers and our own Health Canada audit at each distribution center (DC). Some are yearly, other are every two or three years. Basically we are asked to prove that we do what we say we do in terms of handling the products and keeping the product secure in a temperature controlled environment. They are checking our actions against our written Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for our facilities and client specific procedure manuals put into place to manage client specific requirements for their day-to-day business. It seems that our QA group is always preparing for, completing or responding to a past audit. Each separate audit can take multiple days of effort.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business or customers or technology?
Just about everything has changed. Obviously, computers were just starting to come into their own along with online inventory tracking when I first started in the 1970s. Back then we tracked inventory manually with paper. It’s been interesting to watch the various stages of computerization develop and how it dictates our business. We are heavily reliant on the IT group at Lynden in Seattle and they provide excellent support to us. The facilities themselves have evolved into larger, higher operations with the reliance on technology continuing to grow with far greater inventory control mechanisms in place. The powered equipment is now all electric and propane is not allowed to be used in the facilities. The security around our buildings, vaults and coolers has increased and evolved into specific protocols with specs that track the temp in the buildings, coolers and vaults. In the old days, vaults weren’t much more than cinder block rooms in a warehouse, now they are much more sophisticated with layers of security in place.

Employee training has also increased and become more regulated. We need to train an employee on many procedures before they can begin work with us. If we hire a warehouse or customer service person, they may need to learn 40 procedures in the early stages of their career with us, and up to 100 after they have gained experience. Each procedure or training session takes 20 – 30 minutes, you need to pass a quiz and must be renewed on a schedule, either annually or each time there is a change to a client’s procedures.

What project(s) are you most proud of?
In 2009 we secured the fulfillment business of the Canadian Pharmaceutical Distribution Network (CPDN), a consortium of 25 pharmaceutical manufacturers servicing over 600 hospitals in Canada. Lynden International Logistics Co. provides an order to cash service and collects the accounts receivable on behalf of the CPDN manufacturer members. The hospitals can order from any of the CPDN manufacturer members or multiple manufacturers on the same order, the merchandise is delivered at the same time, on the same invoice and we collect and remit the money to the manufacturers. I am proud of this business and that we just celebrated 10 years of a very successful partnership.

I am also proud of the dedication of our staff. An example is a few years ago, we had a critical shipment out of Toronto, going to Montreal at Christmas. Our supervisor was on call 24-7 for any emergencies. A drug was needed for a critical surgery and no planes were available. The supervisor ended up driving the drugs to Montreal that night to make the surgery. There are many other stories like that where our employees stepped up and acted as heroes to get important medicine to patients and doctors.

Can you tell us about your family?
My wife Bonnie and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary this month. We have four children; three daughters and a son ranging in age from 37 to 29. When the kids were younger, it was a busy time at our house. I was traveling a lot during that time so I called Bonnie the taxi driver. I typically would go out on the road for four days and then come back on weekends and pick up the slack. Three of our kids are in Calgary and one is in Fort McMurray.

I grew up with two brothers and two sisters in a small town of 100 people called Plato in Saskatchewan. I look back on those years fondly. It was a great place to grow up.

What would surprise most people about you?
I spent the first few years out of school working on the oil rigs in northern Alberta and then as a hard rock miner working underground in Thompson, Manitoba. Once I had kids I started helping coach my daughter’s ringette teams. On the weeks that I was on the road for work, I would come home on Thursday and have up to 10 or 12 ice times in the next three days for practices and games. I did that for about 15 years.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
We have a cottage at Clear Water Lake which is an hour north of Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It’s a small, spring-fed lake about a kilometer across. I grew up vacationing at this cottage and my siblings and I shared it as adults. The original cabin was built by my father in the 1950s. We have now taken that out and moved another house onto the property. My wife and I now own it and use it from May to October with our children.

I spend my weekends and occasional midweek afternoon on the golf course for the past number of years. I’m a hack with a 12 handicap, hoping to improve on it, like all the other hacks. I’m also a Saskatchewan Rough Riders football fan and a Calgary Flames hockey fan and follow their seasons. Once a Rider fan, always a Rider fan!

What’s ahead?
I will be retiring in January 2020. We have traveled all over the U.S. and down to Mexico and have taken a number of cruises, but we will now have time to see the rest of the world. We would like to spend a few weeks or even a month each year seeing other countries. We plan to go during the off season, get away from the cold and see a bit of the world.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: David Burgess

Posted on Wed, Nov 20, 2019

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing David Burgess, Driver at LTI, Inc. in Lynden, WA.

Name: David BurgessEveryday Hero David Burgess

Company: LTI, Inc./Milky Way

Title: Driver

On the job since: 1974

Superpower: A driving force for 41 years

Hometown: Bellingham, WA

Favorite Movie: Chinatown

Bucket List Destination: Europe by train

For Fun: Skiing, hiking, watching Seahawks football

How did you start your career at Lynden?
I started washing trucks at age 17 in Lynden, WA. Some of them had come back from Alaska and they were caked with mud, especially underneath. We had to blast that stuff off with a high-pressure hose. Then we advanced to a wash rack for the trucks to drive through. I drove trucks around the yard and up to the Canadian border here and there. Back in those days, in the 1970s, I received a waiver from LTI, Inc. instead of a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) because of my time behind the wheel. The hauls were seasonal so I worked six months in the summer, and I was laid off every winter.

What do you remember most about those early years in the business?
I remember Hank Jansen, Lynden’s founder, being around when I started. The other day I saw the house that was the office for LTI for many years. It was moved and someone is now living in it. I started out on the freight board, hauling just about anything, from 1978 to 1982. Then I was transferred to the milk board with several other drivers to replace retiring milk drivers. The transfers were by seniority and I started with Whatcom County farm pickup. It was a nice change from delivering freight. There is more involved with dairy pickup and it makes it more interesting to see the farmers every day. I also spent five years hauling molten sulphur for LTI, Inc.

What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy seeing the same folks every day. You get to know your customers really well; all the farmers at the dairies. Although they aren’t usually up when I get there during my first stops, I see them later in the day. I also like being outside to enjoy the landscape, the water and the mountains. Even the rain. Sometimes I can’t believe my ancestors settled here in this gray, dark climate, but it also makes it green and nice to look at from the inside of the truck. My job is also somewhat physical. We climb up and down ladders on the truck all day so it’s nice to get some exercise during the workday.

Lee Burgess with Lynden's No. 27Your father, Lee Burgess, was an early Alcan driver for Lynden in Alaska. What do you remember about your Dad’s legendary career?
When I was 9 years old, my dad took me on a ride-along to Fairbanks. He also took my grandfather up at one point. When I rode with dad in 1966, you had to get permission from Hank Jansen to take passengers. I have three sisters, but I guess none of them wanted to go. Dad ran pretty steady on the Alaska route for about 10 years, pictured to the right. I only saw him once a week when he was home, but we always took long summer vacations. My mom missed him, but made friends with the other drivers’ wives. They bowled in a league sponsored by Milky Way and went shopping together. Everyone stuck together. Dad is now 83 and he drives the old Alcan truck No. 27 to parades and truck shows. He enjoys still being part of the Lynden family.

What is a typical day like for you?

The biggest challenge is getting up at 3 a.m. to go to work. I live 40 minutes away from work, out by Lummi Island. I am at work and in the truck at 4 a.m. and drive to my first dairy pickup northeast of Lynden. My first load is 70,000 pounds of milk. I fill up both trailers and head to the Darigold plant. Before I leave the dairy, I take a sample of milk, run it through the lab, measure it, write down the weights, put it on a load sheet and enter it into my electronic program in the truck. We have a hand-held computer where we record the milk temperature, time and bar code labels that go on the milk.

We use a sanitized dipper and plastic vials to test the milk for bacteria and antibiotics and the sample is put in ice to keep it fresh. The procedure is very exact so you don’t contaminate the milk. Once this process is done and the milk test is clear, we open the values on the tankers and unload the milk into the tall silos at the Darigold plant. It’s about a 2-hour process from pickup, testing and delivery to Darigold. After the first load is delivered, then I have my coffee!

I go right back out to the second dairy and load up both tankers again. When I started I had around 13 stops and there were 440 dairy farms in Whatcom County. Today, I go to six or seven dairies and the number of farms has dwindled to 94. Each of those has about 50 to 1,500 dairy cows though, so there has been consolidation of the smaller farms.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Nothing has been all that challenging, just different. My years hauling molten sulphur required getting a haz-mat certification. It was just a test and wasn’t too tough, but it was a different mindset hauling that kind of freight. We picked it up at local refineries at Cherry Point in Ferndale, WA. It was Mobile and Arco back then, now they are BP and Tesoro. Most of it went to Georgia Pacific in Bellingham. They made acid out the sulphur to break down logs into wood pulp to make paper products. We drove to Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Longview and Cosmopolis over the five years I had that job.

I also drove flatbeds and hauled aluminum. We had a rock haul at one point from Kendall, WA on the way to Mount Baker and on to Bellingham to a cement plant. That was a 10-year project.

What changes have you seen over the years?
To sum it up, tremendous growth. When I started everything was more personal because it was a smaller operation based in Lynden, WA. I went to high school just six miles from Lynden. I feel like I have grown up with the company in some ways. Equipment has changed, too. When I started in the 1970s we had the most modern equipment you could get in the day, but the new trucks are more like driving a car. Lynden always provided good equipment to use. They spent money to make money. That’s why they are so successful.

Can you tell us about your kids and grandkids?
I have three adult children, ages 37, 34 and 27, and two grandchildren.

What would surprise most people about you?
Someday I would like to hike parts of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I learned to ski in fifth grade and still spend my winters skiing. My favorite place is Whistler. I also like to hike and would like to go on an extended backpacking trip at some point. I enjoy watching football and although Seahawks is my No. 1 team, I’m also a New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers fan.

What are your thoughts about working for Lynden?
I’m fortunate that I’ve had the job all these years. By the time you’re my age, most people have had two or three different jobs or even tried different careers. I have had one. I’m proud to work for Lynden and represent Milky Way on the road every day.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: Joy Mendes

Posted on Thu, Oct 17, 2019

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Joy Mendes, Customer Service Training Coordinator at Alaska Marine Lines in Seattle.

Name: Joy MendesEveryday Hero Joy Mendes

Company: Alaska Marine Lines

Title: Customer Service Training Coordinator

On the Job Since: 1988

Superpower: Sunny disposition

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Favorite Movie: Grease

Bucket List Destination: Azores Islands, Portugal

For Fun: Baking, Antiquing, Running

How did you start your career in transportation?
I took an office procedures course in high school and my teacher knew I was headed to a job after graduation, not college. With my family situation, college was not an option for me at that time. She got a call from a manager at Pacific Western Barge Lines. They said they were looking for someone and she would put the job lead information with my diploma so I would have it when I picked it up after graduation. I called Pacific Western on a Monday, interviewed and started the next Monday as a receptionist. I was in the barge business two weeks out of high school. Within a couple of months, I moved into billing to fill an opening. (Lynden Executive Vice President) Alex McKallor and I shared an office. Alex was a billing clerk. He would write the freight bills out by hand and I would type them on a 4-carbon copy freight bill.

What do you remember most about those early years in the business?
I was working at Pacific Western Lines in Seattle for two years when I met my husband, Daniel Mendes, who worked in the Anchorage office. Jim Warner was the Anchorage manager then and he would often come to Seattle. I got to know him well. He told Dan about me and sent him down to Seattle to teach our crews about the proper handling and shipping of drywall, but also, apparently, to meet me. Jim sent him in to meet me but I was the on the phone and didn't get a chance to talk to him. I was 20. He was 24. The next time I saw Jim he said "I only have one thing to say to you: You should marry Dan Mendes and you should take a trip to Anchorage." I went to Anchorage and took a position there when it opened up. I also ended up marrying Dan! While working in Anchorage I also had the opportunity to become the claims manager and the dispatcher for the company.

What has your career progression been?
Alaska Marine Lines purchased Pacific Western Lines in 1985. Dan and I were the last employees to close the Anchorage office. That's when we first met Jim Jansen. He came up to shut down the facility. Jim was very respectful and kind to us, despite the circumstances. I told Dan that Jim was a person I would definitely work for.

After that I did some freelance work, worked for Alaska Cargo Transport (which later was bought by Northland) and then the old Northland. I stayed in Anchorage one year longer and then moved back to Seattle where I started working for Alaska Marine Lines as a billing and receiving clerk and moved up to accounting, became the accounts receivable manager, then billing manager. I am now a training coordinator in customer service and I love it. I get a chance to travel around the system training our new employees one-on-one. We service more places than we ever did. There is so much more to know than in the old days.

What is a typical day like for you?
Busy. We answer a lot of questions about how to send household goods to Alaska or how to get a car or a huge piece of machinery shipped. We have customers who know their way around the process and those that are brand new to it and need some hand-holding. I am answering emails, answering the phone and often going out to the dock to check on a shipment. The other day something was routed for Skagway, but the customer needed it changed to Petersburg so we were working on a new bill of lading and a re-route.

What has been most challenging in your career?
When something goes wrong and we disappoint a customer. When they need it and they don't have it and we can't fix it fast enough. We will make mistakes sometimes – every company does. When you are personally talking to them, you are the face of the company, even if it was not your mistake. That is the most challenging for me.

What changes have you seen over the years?
It is the age of instant gratification and people are in a hurry. Sometimes we need to remind them that a barge can be delayed by weather or just because it has arrived it doesn't mean they can instantly access their freight. We still need to unload containers from the barge and then unload the containers. They have more information now so expectations are higher. 

Can you tell us about your family?
I have two children, daughter Ashley and son Alex. Ashley lives in Renton, WA. We just welcomed our fourth grandchild in September. My son Alex is going to college in upstate New York. I am the youngest of three kids who grew up in Michigan but moved to the Seattle area at age 14. Both of my children have hearing loss. My daughter and her whole family is deaf, and my son is hard of hearing, which has made our life that much more complex and rich. Every day isn't perfect but you need to create happiness where you are. If you look outward and help others, your life is amazing.

What would surprise most people about you?
I ran my first marathon at age 40 when my son was in ninth grade. I have now run seven full marathons (26.2 miles) and countless half-marathons with my husband Dan. I qualified for Boston and ran in that race three times and also qualified for and ran in the New York City Marathon. I also won first place in my age group once at a smaller marathon. My best times were a 3:38 marathon and a 1:38 half marathon. I am also quite shy. I dislike crowds and parties. Although I have people over to my house a lot, I am focused on the job of entertaining so conversation comes easier to me as I'm helping others.

How do you spend your time outside of work? 
My husband and I bought a 960-square-foot house in West Seattle five years ago. We lived in it for a while, then tore it down three years ago and are rebuilding it from the ground up as a much larger American Four Square style. We are keeping the design authentic to 1924, but with modern updates. We have purchased period lighting fixtures and push-button switches from an antique dealer in Port Townsend and hired a painter who has put in more than 2,000 hours giving it a vintage look. The best compliment for us is when someone in the neighborhood thinks it is an original home from 95 years ago.

What are your thoughts about working for Lynden and being a part of Alaska Marine Lines? 
I enjoy working for a company and with employees with a strong work ethic. As a trainer of new employees I tell them that you need to care about what you do and always go the extra mile. It all comes back to you. If you are willing to recheck the freight that doesn't look quite right, or call someone when you think there is a problem, it will pay dividends for your own career and the future of the company. We all need to care. Adopt an attitude that the buck stops with you. Don't pass the buck.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero profile: Ethan Bradford

Posted on Sun, Sep 22, 2019

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment. 

Introducing Ethan Bradford, Technical Services Manager at Lynden Air Cargo in Anchorage.

Name: Ethan BradfordEveryday Hero Ethan Bradford

Company: Lynden Air Cargo, 22 years

Title: Technical Services Manager

Hometown: Anchorage, AK

Favorite Movie: Back to the Future

Bucket list destination: Space

For fun: Flying, photography, building a new home

Superpower: Solving the challenges encountered each day in airline operations and searching for new global opportunities. Ethan is pictured in his field office in Papua New Guinea at the startup of Lynden Air Cargo’s project there in 2012.

How did you get your start at Lynden?
I started as an airline startup consultant in December of 1996, then became an employee in January 1997. My positions have included airline certification consultant, then chief inspector (a required position for airline operations). I have maintained the position of Technical Services most of my career at Lynden Air Cargo.

What is your favorite or most rewarding part of your job?
Solving the challenges and opportunities we encounter each day in our airline operations and expanding the business.

What has been most challenging in your career so far?
Establishing a business and airline in Papua New Guinea. Once we were immersed into the culture and mindset of this developing country it became easier.

Most memorable project?
Acquisition of aircraft serial number 5225. It involved a long path of twists and turns in foreign places before we were able to acquire this young aircraft.

What changes have you seen over the years?
We started out only operating in Alaska with a very simple infrastructure and level of sophistication. We have grown into a mature, more complex global operation that involves thousands of different challenges and opportunities to meet and solve every day. The uniquely experienced and dedicated people that work for Lynden Air Cargo are the key to our success in overcoming these challenges we encounter. We have come a long way from startup and we will continue to grow and learn to meet our customer’s needs, and do it safely and efficiently every day.

You have been singled out for being an expert at startups. Do you consider yourself skilled at getting programs off the ground?
Yes, I thrive on exploring new ground that provides Lynden Air Cargo opportunities for growth, but not without the team of professionals that work at Lynden Air Cargo that make it happen in the end and deliver to the customer.

Can you tell us about your family?
I just celebrated 35 years with my lovely wife, Lori. We have two grown children, Nicholas and McKenzie. My wife’s life’s work has been dedicated to teaching. She recently retired from the Anchorage School District after 27 years of running a top dance program. Her biggest gratification in her work is seeing the 17,000 some students who have moved on in life to become mature and productive adults in our world. Our son, Nicholas, who worked in the film and photography business in Alaska, went on to finish his degree and is now working on his passion producing human interest documentaries in Hollywood. Our daughter, McKenzie, graduated this last spring with her Masters in Environmental Science and Management from UCSB Bren School. Her passion is to solve the world’s challenge of giving everyone access to clean water for better health and growth, of which we take for granted. It all started after a trip to a village in Cameroon for a water project, learning how disadvantaged many people are. We are proud of them and know they will do well in our world.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
Well, we bought a lot on the hillside in South Anchorage and started building a house, which has become my hobby. It started with my father-in-law, who is an architect, handing his daughter plans to a unique and modern home design. My wife handed the plans to me to build it. We have built it ourselves, out of pocket, and with many unique challenges and opportunities along the way. It has been a rewarding experience. Besides that, I love to explore and share the world with my family. When I have had the time, I love to fly, which is how it all started. My dad taught me how to fly when I was 15. I’ve been glued to aviation ever since.

You have taken many great Lynden photos over the years. Is photography a hobby as well?
I have always loved curating the images of life, of work, and of family. I have over 100,000 photos in my iPhoto library!

What would surprise people about you?
That I can’t dance even though I married a dance teacher!

What are your thoughts about working for Lynden and being a part of Lynden Air Cargo?
I can’t think of enough words to describe how honored and blessed I feel to work for such a great company, more importantly, the people that make it a family company, and that starts from the top. It is the people of Lynden that makes Lynden who we are as a company. Each one of us contributes to the success and purpose of why we do what we do every day. We do it with passion, we do it efficiently, we do it safely, we do it for the customer, internal or external – we do it every day because that is what we do. I am proud to work for the Lynden family of companies.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

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