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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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