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Everyday Hero Profile: Aaron Delahoussaye

Posted on Fri, Sep 18, 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 Aaron Delahoussaye, Driver at Lynden Oilfield Services in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Name: Aaron DelahoussayeEveryday Hero Aaron Delahoussaye

Company: Lynden Oilfield Services

Title: Driver

On the job since: 1996

Superpower: Getting it done

Hometown: Palmer, AK

Favorite movie: Original Star Wars

Bucket list destination: Europe

For fun: Traveling with my wife

How did you start your career at Lynden?
I started my career at 22 as a warehouseman at Lynden Transport in Anchorage. I worked on the dock as I worked toward earning my Commercial Driver's License (CDL). I transferred to Prudhoe Bay in 2012 and was part of the transition to Lynden Oilfield Services (LOIL) in 2015. I am now a driver and haul everything from bulk chemicals to oversized freight on any given day.

What is a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day in Prudhoe Bay – every day is different. Everyone up here can pretty much do everything. That's what I like about it. You don't get stuck in the same routine. My co-workers have nicknamed me the horse as in "work horse."

I was part of the Doyon drill rig move of 'the beast' from Canada to Alaska and have hauled a lot of drill rig components over the years.

What has been most challenging in your career?
The most challenging is probably being away from home and family for two weeks or more at a time. You miss out on a few things along the way. Although we have a regular two-week-on, two-week-off schedule, I've been away as long as six weeks for special projects.

Weather is also a challenge. Winters bring visibility issues, freezing temps and wind that suddenly comes out of nowhere. We have our winter gear to protect against frostbite and below-freezing temperatures, but it can be tough at times. One specific story that comes to mind is when we first started running the PistenBullys. We had one operator at LOIL and the other was a contracted operator that helped us with our first three trips to Barrow, AK. The contractor left the Slope because we thought our season was over when we got a call for two more loads. I was very new to operating the machines, but I followed the other driver on a 530-mile roundtrip across the Arctic Slope from Deadhorse to Atqasuk to Barrow and back to Deadhorse. We were on the trail for four days and made record time without any issues.

What do you like best about your job?
I love the challenges. From the freight to the conditions to the time schedules, every day is different. I'm always learning. Up here you get to be the teacher and the student every single day.

The animals we see around Prudhoe Bay also make the job unique. Since we are up on the coast at the very top of Alaska, we have had polar bears, grizzly bears, caribou and other wildlife come into the yard looking for food. Swans and geese come up in the summer to have their babies on the lake, then migrate south for the winter.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I'm most proud of my longevity with the company. To be able to say you've spent almost your entire working career with one company says something about you and the company.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I've been married to my beautiful wife Tomara for 22 years. She works for Alaska Airlines as a Flight Attendant. We have two awesome kids, son Kaden and daughter Hannah. They are off to a great start with their careers. So we just became empty nesters and are still trying to figure out what to do with ourselves with no kids in the house. I guess we can do whatever we want!

What was your first job?
My first job was with my grandpa. He owned a log cabin business. We would fly out to these remote locations and build cabins for customers with the challenges of no electricity, getting the building materials to the job sites and dealing with wild animals from time to time.

What would surprise most people about you?
I don't know if this is surprising, but I'm now in my 40s, and I've never broken a bone.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
A. We moved from Alaska to Las Vegas three years ago to be closer to family. Lately I've been working on our backyard, landscaping and hanging out by the pool. We're looking to get an RV and travel around the states. When we still lived in Alaska, I spent time snowmachining, hunting, fishing and skiing at Alyeska.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero Profile: Becky MacDonald

Posted on Wed, Aug 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 Becky MacDonald, Logistics Manager at Lynden Logistics in Seattle, Washington.

Everyday Hero Becky MacDonaldName: Becky MacDonald

Company: Lynden Logistics

Title: Logistics Manager for oil refineries

On the job since: 1985

Superpower: Grace under pressure

Hometown: Vashon Island, WA

Favorite Movie: Remember the Titans

Bucket List Destination: Iceland

For Fun: Baking, travel, beadwork

How did you start your career at Lynden?
In 1985, I was working at Foss Alaska Lines in the rates dept. When Foss sold their assets to Lynden, I came to Alaska Marine Lines with the move. I worked at Alaska Marine Lines for 25 years starting in rates and billing, then moved into several positions, which included Pricing Manager, Customer Service Manager and Intermodal Services. In 2010, I moved to Lynden Logistics and now handle the transportation for five refineries operated by Marathon (formerly Tesoro) and Par Hawaii, along with capital and retail projects for Marathon as they come up for bid.

What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is different, which I really like. I handle every step of a shipment from quoting and pricing shipments to set up, dispatch, tracking, delivery and invoicing. It can be a 10-pound box or a 150,000-pound heat exchanger and anything in between.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Managing three projects at the same time. I work best under pressure and this kept me hopping!

What do you like best about your job?
My customers. I have built great relationships and enjoy working with them.
I've also had the pleasure of working with several Lynden companies on shipments. My shipments may be routed via air, ocean, truck or charter, so it's great to have the knowledge and capability of Lynden employees to work with. Everyone is always willing to help with a One Lynden attitude.

Lynden has been such a great company to work for. After 35 years, I still love my job.

What are you most proud of in your career?
Developing the Intermodal Department at Alaska Marine Lines. It started in 1989 with a customer asking if we could ship a 40-foot container of materials from North Carolina to Wrangell without transload. I worked with Pat Stocklin at Lynden Transport who taught me the process. From then on, Alaska Marine Lines offered the service to household good companies, retail and construction businesses, and it grew from there. We were able to partner with a third-party rail company and move their 53-foot containers through to Alaska which opened the door to more business. Our customers appreciate the door-to-door service. At Alaska Marine Lines, I was taught you don't say no. You say 'I'll look into it and get back to you.'

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I grew up on Vashon Island, WA on the beach. We had to walk down a long trail to our house, or drive in on the beach if we had a lot of stuff to unload. My dad was a 6th grade teacher and we moved to Vashon when I was three years old. I have two older brothers and one younger brother whom I adore. They and their families all live on Vashon, and we are very close. Our parents taught us to work hard, be honest and kind.

Our playground was the beach and the woods. We heated our house with wood so I learned how to chop and stack wood at an early age. We caught fish, crab, octopus and geoduck off our beach, and mom did an amazing job cooking all of it.

1914 Bristol Bay boatGrowing up, we had a 30-foot Bristol Bay boat that was built in 1914 (right). From the time I was 10 until age 17, we spent our summers cruising the Canadian Islands living off the land. I spent many days in the spring working with my dad to get the boat ready for our trip.

We left home two days after school was out and came home three days before school started. Our dogs and cats came with us. My parents continued those trips after us kids grew up.

In high school I played basketball and participated in track as well as managing the boy's varsity baseball team. In my 20s I played softball, basketball and volleyball – and continued playing into my 30s, then began managing and coaching my kids' sports. I was a pitcher, catcher and played third base on three different softball teams.

My daughter Kelly is now 29 and works for Alaska Marine Lines as an account manager in Juneau.

What was your first job?
When I was 18, I went to work for Crowley Maritime as a cook on the tugs. I was one of two women working on the boats at that time. My first outside trip was for four months escorting oil tankers in and out of Valdez, AK. I made several trips to and from Hawaii and Whittier. I asked several times to be sent to Prudhoe Bay on Crowley's annual sea lift but was told it was too long of a trip for a girl. How times have changed!

What would surprise most people about you?
Becky MacDonald with quadI live in a converted barn on 24 acres on Vashon Island. I call it the 
"barndominium!"

How do you spend your time outside of work?
Love to bake – my specialty is cookies, but I enjoy all baking and cooking. I like gardening, walking, spending time with family, fishing, riding my Polaris Ranger (right) on the property and watching sports. Go Hawks!

I also chair a foundation with Kelly in memory of my son Andy who passed away in 2006. He was training to be a firefighter. We provide scholarships to cadets that are enrolled in the Highline School District's vocational high school firefighting program that Andy attended. They use the funds to continue their education in Fire Services. Several cadets have attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks Firefighting program, and are now full-time firefighters. We also provide donations to Andy's high school to purchase training equipment, and donate to other organizations as well. To date, we have raised over $100,000.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

Everyday Hero Profile: Fred Austin

Posted on Mon, Jul 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 Fred Austin, an icon at Lynden Transport in Alaska.

Everyday Hero Fred AustinName: Fred Austin

Company: Lynden Transport

Titles: Driver, Trainer and Instructor

On the job since: 1975

Superpower: Mentoring

Hometown: Gig Harbor, WA

Favorite Movie: South Pacific

Bucket List Destination: Antarctica

For Fun: Spending quiet time with his bride after raising 34 foster kids

Icon of the Alcan
"To really understand Fred Austin, talk to the drivers, dispatchers and our friends on the road system," says Lynden Chairman Jim Jansen. "They share my description of this 'Icon of the Alcan' – a kind and thoughtful gentleman, loved by us all, who has professionally served Lynden and its customers, safely and efficiently, for over 40 years. Hopefully Fred will continue as a Lynden Everyday Hero for many more."

If you don't know Fred Austin, you have probably heard of him. His trademark red bandana, his ability to spin a humorous story and those twinkling blue eyes make the 85-year-old professional driver a legend on on the road.

Fred came to work for Lynden in 1975 at the start of pipeline construction in Fairbanks. He wanted to own a truck to operate for Lynden but could not afford one. "We sold him tractor 118 real cheap, the lemon of the fleet, which did him no favors," Jim remembers. Fred kept the 1969 Peterbilt operating reliably in spite of its reputation.

Fred's love of machines with big engines began early. "I started young, about 10 years old, running a small John Deere dozer on my dad's farm," he says. At 18, he started learning to drive truck – hauling logs in a 1942 GMC GI in the mountains near Mt. Rainier. "I got in on the last of the big gas engines – 200 horse – on the logging roads, getting about 3 miles a gallon on the highway." Operating heavy equipment and driving trucks was the perfect job for Fred who says "I was always looking for larger and louder equipment and more smoke. As the guys I work with tell me, the call of the throttle got me."

In 1957, Fred joined the U.S. Navy and continued his driving career for Uncle Sam. "I was licensed to drive everything on wheels during my four years," he remembers. After his military career, it was back to the big machines. "My base for instructing at Lynden is my experience operating heavy equipment and driving log trucks," he explains.

In the mid-70s, Fred switched to lowboy trailers and LTL hauls for Lynden Transport. At this time, Fred and his wife Margery were busy raising six children plus four foster children. "The kids were mostly teenagers and they were eating a big pile of groceries," he says. "I took some side jobs as an owner-operator to keep the groceries coming during a bit of a slowdown at Lynden, but always stayed in contact with line dispatch. When work picked up at Lynden, I was under the green flag again."

During the pipeline construction many competing companies tried to lure Lynden drivers away with promises of higher salaries. "I always thought long-term and stayed with Lynden, and my decision proved correct. And here I am today!"

In addition to driving, Fred dispatched several years ago, and now serves as driver trainer and mentor while continuing to operate between Fairbanks and Beaver Creek, earning the respect of new drivers and veterans. In 2015, at age 79, he took the state test for Methods of Instruction Training and passed. He is the oldest person to sit for the test and continues to inspire and entertain students and instructors at the Lynden Training Center in Fairbanks.

Fred's stories were hard-earned while driving for Lynden. Retired Lynden Transport President Jim Beck remembers Fred's first trip from Beaver Creek. "The drive line in his tractor broke. He camped next to the truck for several days and made a new drive line out of a tree limb to complete the trip to Fairbanks," he says. "Fred is one of the finest drivers and gentleman you could ever meet."

Fairbanks Service Center Manager Darren Stansbury concurs. "Fred is an asset to the company and a true leader. No matter the situation Fred has a can-do attitude."

Fred feels it is his duty to pass on his knowledge and experience. "If I drive another million miles it will make no difference in this world, but if I can train someone to do the right thing and not get hurt, then I can make a difference in their life and the life of their family," he says.

Tags: Everyday Heroes

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 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

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