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Tom Erickson Named Kottke Trucking’s Inaugural Driver of the Year

MORTON, MINN – Kottke Trucking held its first Driver of the Year program today and announced that Thomas Erickson of Ramsey, MN was crowned with the high honors.

Tom has been a life long driver of more than 40 years and has been with Kottke Trucking since 1992.  Tom’s dedication, safety and professionalism were cornerstone of his consideration and the cornerstone of his commitment to Kottke Trucking.IMG_0148

Tom’s dispatchers mention that he upbeat, easy to work with and likes to have some fun while working.  Some of our long time customers mentioned that Tom’s presence makes it easier to do business with Kottke Trucking.

Kottke Trucking’s Driver Board created the idea of the Driver of the Year and it was carried out by our staff.  There are four quarterly winners, named the Jim Doering Award of Excellence.  They were Robert Kistner of Gaylord, MN; Thomas Erickson of Ramsey, MN; Laurie Leonard of St Cloud, MN; and John Ashley of New London, MN.  All four recipients are the best of the best of the driving industry.  Jim Doering was Kottke Trucking’s first long time driver and stayed with our company for over 35 years.  The quarterly awards are named in his memory.

The Driver of the Year is named after our second generation visionaries:  Duane and Connie.  Their ability to build the base that our company stands on today, doesn’t go without notice.

Kottke Trucking has been in business since 1938 and for the past three decades the primary business is to transport dry, refrigerated and frozen food items.  We operate in the Midwest, South and Southeastern part of the United States.  Our fleet consists of 90 drivers and 20 support staff.

John Ashley – Candidate for Driver of the Year

John Ashley

  • Fourth Quarter 2014, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Driver of the Year to be awarded Saturday, December 13, 2014

How many ways can you say goodbye?  Well, if you want to try to outdo John, you are on your own.  John’s smile stretches to each ear and his ears are always willing to listen.  John wants everyone to do their best and if he can give you a boost, he will.  Some would say the old ‘shirt off your back’ phrase was written because of John.

John’s nominator adds, “Whenever I see John, his truck looks great!  He takes care of the equipment he pulls and uses load locks, sweeps and seals his trailers.  He has always treated me very well and been friendly.  He is a very professional driver.  He definitely represents Kottke well.”

We asked John to share his feelings of this award and his start in trucking. john3

“I feel very honored to receive the Jim Doering award. First, because it bears the name of a man I knew and respected. Second, because the nomination comes from fellow drivers, who share the road with me and know what it’s like out there. It makes it easier being with a company that appreciates and understands the drivers. I don’t feel like just a number.

“As a youngster all I ever wanted to do was drive. My first job when I was sixteen was driving a van delivering wedding cakes for a local baker. And now I get to drive the big trucks. Thank you and keep on truckin’,” Ashley said.

Rest assured, we’ll keep on truckin’.  Thanks for being part of our company for all these years.

This concludes the four finalists for the Driver of the Year.  Come to our website Saturday evening after 6:30 p.m. to see who be named the Duane and Connie Kottke Distinguished Driver of the Year.

Laurie Leonard – Candidate For Driver of the Year

Laurie Leonard

  • Third  Quarter 2014, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Driver of the Year to be awarded Saturday, December 13, 2014

Laurie likes perfect.  In fact, she strives for it.  If there is someone that is constantly looking to improve the lives of our drivers, Laurie is trying.  Whether it be that she is pressing forward to be the best fuel economy driver in the fleet or she is concerned about how a customer is working with our drivers, Laurie is there and trying to improve.  She is driving all of us to get better!

Laurie’s nominator added, “Laurie possesses so many characteristics that make her worthy for this award.  She is honest, has a great sense of humor, professional and a great leader.”

Those traits are indeed a great starter kit to  being a great driver.  Being that she does them all so well, makes her excellent.  laurie

When we asked Laurie how she got into the industry and what this award means to her, she told us, “My trucking career ultimately started when I was still on bottles and in diapers.  Growing up, I rode many miles with my Dad, in numerous cab over Internationals, answered phones, dispatched loads, typed freight bills, stuffed statements, folded tarps and helped out in the shop. But, was NEVER allowed to drive a truck! That always made me mad.  So when the opportunity to get my CDL in 2007 presented itself, I jumped on it. I am a 3rd generation truck driver and proud of it!  Winning the Jim Doering award (earlier this year), to me, means that by taking everything I’ve learned along the way and incorporating it into the job I’m doing now, I must be doing something right. I have my parents to thank for the work ethic and my genes to thank for my love of driving.”

And we have to thank your parents for showing you the path.  Thanks to them!

Stay tuned in the coming days of all the candidates for the award and come to our website Saturday evening after 6:30 pm to see who will wear the crown of Duane and Connie Kottke Distinguished Driver of the Year.

Tom Erickson – Candidate For Driver of the Year

Thomas Erickson

  • Second Quarter 2014, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Driver of the Year to be awarded Saturday, December 13, 2014

Tom, Tommy, Shaky or maybe known best as Mr. Local.  Tom Erickson has been a cornerstone of our company for over twenty years.  Starting his career as a long haul driver, his career change to a local driver become ideal as his understanding of the over-the-roads needs were clear.  Many of the things we start and end go through Tom.  Many of the things that we all take for granted go through this local fleet.

Tom’s nominator said, “We owe Tom a big thank you for all his efforts in delivering our loads so that we can continue to work or get some needed time with our loved ones.  This award would be a way to pass our thanks to him for his efforts.  You make our job easier by doing what you do.”

Tom probably can say it better than we can. tom (1)

“Driving truck isn’t just a job, it is a way of life. I have been driving truck for almost forty years.  My dad drove truck and his dad drove truck.   I guess you could say that it’s in the family,” he said when asked how long he has been in the industry.

“There are people who might think driving truck has to be an easy way to make a living, but there’s a lot more that goes into it than just getting in the truck and driving.  We drivers don’t just drive.  We also have to be able to get along with shipping and receiving clerks, we have to be able to schmooze with the dock workers.  We have to know all the rules and regulations for all the states we drive through, and for those who own their own trucks, they have to know how to work on and maintain their equipment,” Tom adds.

“I am very grateful for having been nominated for the award.  I realize it is an honor and I also realize there are many others who do exactly what I do every day, get in their truck and do what has to be done, for themselves and for their families.  I am proud of what I do and I’m proud of this honor,” Tom says proudly.

Proud you should be, Tom.  We are proud to have you.

Stay tuned in the coming days of all the candidates for the award and come to our website Saturday evening after 6:30 pm to see who will wear the crown of Duane and Connie Kottke Distinguished Driver of the Year.

Bob Kistner – Candidate for Driver of the Year

Robert Kistner

  • First Quarter 2014, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Driver of the Year to be awarded Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bob was one of the most hard working and dependable drivers in the history of our company.  He strived to do everything to the best of his ability and strived to provide for his family.  Those motivations made him one of the best of the best!

On his nomination form, he has one minor accident in 2011 abobnd the balance of his safety performance was solid.  He scored 53 of 55 possible points on our internal assessment of him, which is absolutely outstanding.  Bob’s nominator says, “I feel Bob would be a great candidate for this award as many of his great characteristics are similar to that of Jim Doering.  Bob has dedicated his life to the trucking industry.  Bob is always more than willing to go wherever he has to go, when ever he has to go and does it with a great attitude.  He just does the job and you rarely get a negative word from him.”

Sadly, Bob will not get to attend on his own behalf as he decided to drive the gold paved roads in Heaven in August.  He is missed daily and his honor will shine bright at Saturday’s presentation of the Driver of the Year.

Stay tuned in the coming days of all the candidates for the award and come to our website Saturday evening after 6:30 pm to see who will get the crown of Duane and Connie Kottke Distinguished Driver of the Year.

Driver of the Year To Be Announced On Saturday

We are entering an exciting week here at Kottke Trucking.  It comes with much anticipation, that one of our drivers will be crowned as Driver of the Year.

Tuesday through Friday of this week we will be releasing a press release on each of the candidates and you will get to enjoy the achievements of these individuals.  I encourage each of you, that if you see any of these four, to congratulate them.  They are very deserving and have worked hard for the recognition.

Too many people use this line but in this case it is true, there is not a loser in this group.  They have earned their right to be part of the best of the best and someone will be chosen to represent the Driver of the Year.  Watch your emails, check our blogs and our social media for the coming updates (we’ve even gone the extra mile and have sought aid from to reach out to more people).  On Saturday, please dial into our website at about 6:30 p.m.  We are going to post a press release of the winner moments after it happens live and you will get to follow the results!

It would be remiss, if I didn’t mention the passing of another of our great drivers, Dennis Pater.  To say that the last week was a tough one would be an understatement.  He will be missed by everyone he was close to.  Dennis was a giant teddy bear to all of those around him and since his passing, I have heard so many delightfully great stories about him.  I am certain that the trucking angels have a great spot for him in Heaven.

To come so closely to the passing of Bob Kistner adds additional shock to many of us.  If anyone feels like they got kicked square in the gut with the news of both of their passing, you are not alone.  Everyone deals with their grief in a slightly different way and if I can be of assistance with anyone’s process don’t be shy to ask to talk.  Once the pain begins to subside, both of these great men would want us to do what we do…. keep truckin’.  They would want us to remember the good times with them and continue to go about our ways.  With their passion in my heart, I plan to do just that – keep on truckin’!

With that, enjoy the week ahead.  Congratulate the recognized drivers and remember those ahead that paved the path.

Safe travels and keep on truckin’!


Going The Extra Mile Should Be An Everyday Occurrence

If you at all follow this blog, you know that I watch my fair share of sports and occasionally tie them into my blog posts.  Anyone catch the performance of Madison Bumgartner of the San Francisco Giants?  When I was talking to my nephew, Collin, on how to describe his performance, he said he went the extra mile for his team.  Collin is usually a kid of many words and if I gave him time, he would have found many great ways to describe it.

Amazing!  That is all I can say.  I was listening to the radio on the way to a meeting and was listening to two sports minds discuss how easy it must be to bring your best and go that extra mile if you are in Game 7 of a World Series baseball game.  They went on to say that this is the most abnormal situation that a pitcher will ever see and the best of the best go that EXTRA MILE for their team.  Collin’s words exactly.

I would like to take a different avenue on this deal.  Bumgartner is one of the best pitchers in the game.  He brings it every day to the job.  What he just accomplished is amazing, but he decides to go the extra mile each day of his life.

So I ask, don’t you think the amazing performance we saw on the baseball diamond was setup by the fact that he is a great performer at his job every day?  I sure think so.

It drives me nuts to hear people talk about this performance as ‘easy to get up for’ to perform for the peak, most critical moments.

I have many things that I need to develop personally to be the person I want to be, but the thing I feel very good about is showing up to work to go that extra mile.  I find it to be the one constant I can choose and it becomes the fabric of who you are.

In the chase of perfection, you will find that excellence follows. Go to YouTube and see Billy Bob Thorton’s definition of Perfection in Friday Night Lights.  If that doesn’t hit home, I am sorry I wasted your time.

So, what do you think?  Is there a huge difference of a baseball pitcher going the extra mile versus you or I deciding to do so for our team/business?

The Interesting Case of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Many of you probably participated in, myself included, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Where most of the money raised has gone to the ALS, but it has some interesting twists the way I look at it.

First of all, how dare we allow such a critical condition to be starved for all this time.  As one guy said on his death bed, the amount of people affected isn’t enough to matter.  We spend money on many material things that don’t matter, but we haven’t funded the research of this crippling disease worth a damn.  So some wonderful idea at the right time comes along that has people more interested in watching their buddy dump a bucket of cold water on there head and it is worth $20 to watch and therefore donate. Really?  It took this to get our attention?

Second of all, congrats to those who figured out this captivating idea.  It probably will not work for any other group with a faction of the success of this.  It was a perfect plot that not even the people who thought of it could have pictured it working out this well. $100 million raised in a month is beyond impressive.

Third, a quick congrats to Facebook, their advertising revenue from this had to be through the roof.

Last, a good luck to the folks at ALS.  You now have very little reason not to turn this truck load of cash into results.  I want to challenge you all that you don’t pay out executive bonuses in the spirit of having cash but actually use that cash to accomplish the goal that you are set out to do.  People are watching and your expectations are very high.  Something short of a good solution would be disappointing and that is what they call pressure.  Ice cold pressure. Good Luck.

Whatever You Do, Keep On Dreaming

If you’re a follower of the Minnesota Twins, first of all, I’m sorry, but I’m sure you heard about the interesting signing the team made last week. The Twins signed an undrafted fireballer who was playing in the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League for the, I’m not making this up, Healdsburg Prune Packers.

Brandon Poulson is 24-years-old and can throw 100 MPH. He’s now $250,000 richer and a member of the Twins rookie ball team in Elizabethton, Tennessee. So why did this signing, a cool signing but a singing that has a good possibility of having no effect on the major league squad, get my attention? The USA Today’s headline will make it very clear: “Twins sign undrafted former truck driver with 100-mph fastball”

Yes, Poulson used to drive a truck. And front-loaders. And backhoes. Now he’s just a couple levels away from reaching the pinnacle every baseball player dreams about.

Never give up on your dreams be it to be a major league baseball player, own your own truck or win the lottery, never give up.

One of my greatest inspirations is Steve Jobs. There’s a lot that went into how Steve Jobs operated, but he always had and pushed for a dream. When asked for advice, Jobs would respond with, ‘Dream bigger.’

Jobs had a dream to put personal computers in front of everyone in America. That dream was those big bulky things with towers, monitors, detached speakers and a whole lot more. Jobs and his team surpassed that dream. Those bulky computers are in the past and we all have computers in our pockets. A lot of those computers in are pockets are directly from the dream that Jobs had in his own company, Apple.

It doesn’t matter what your dream is, just don’t ever give up on it. Your dream might be developing the next iPhone, getting drafted by a major league team or being the best truck driver on the road. Whatever it is, shoot for it and more. Dream bigger.

The Un-American American Crime: Tax Evasion

I am not the typical guy to pound a political opinion and this one will be no different.  I believe this view is valid no matter if you stand with the Republicans, Democrats or another party in your political ideology.

If you read this and you are in Minnesota, you definitely know about Medtronics and what they are doing.  First things first, shame on them.  I get the global competition thing.  I get that tax is too high thing.  I get that it is “good business” and best in the views of the shareholders…

What the hell happened to running your business with shareholders, stakeholders, communities, and the country of your origin all in mind?  I get that Minnesota is a high taxed state and that many companies are looking at many different means to run there business but at least most of them stay within the country.

Two thoughts come to my mind –

1 – If you are elected in November’s election; work for your country in Washington DC and if you are reading this… Hello?!  How can we fall so far behind the world that people even consider this?  I want to hear about a sensible reform that makes sense for all involved.

2 – Have to love Mark Cuban.  Besides being a loud owner of the Dallas Mavericks, he is very open about his views.  He challenges shareholders to sell these stocks and move on to people that want to stay within the country.  He says that it is the rest of us that pay the tax shortfall they are all creating by doing this and it will make it harder to make the move. See:

Until we find solutions that don’t tempt the wicked, use common sense.  This will help us all out.  Tell your investment professional, you don’t want to own these stocks.

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Kottke Trucking, Inc.