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Diving on in to the river of efficiency

Think of where you were in 1985. Ronald Regan was just sworn in for his second term as President of the United States, New Coke was a thing and the Nintendo Entertainment System debuted. Back to the Future, The Goonies and The Breakfast Club were new movies with MacGyver and The Golden Girls dominating the smaller screen. Has life drastically changed since then for you?

Some of us in this world, not to date the others of you, weren’t even born yet.

Has life flowed for you the way you planned on it going 30-some years ago? If not, you are not alone. You have that in common with the Ucayali River in Peru. The river has drastically changed its flow in 30 years. Just watch this time-lapse from Hindered Settling.


I think we all expect for the Earth and its moving things to change over time, but not quite like that.

The Ucayali changed its flow, cut out a couple huge bends and became a virtual straight shot. Now I can’t tell you the science as to how this happened, or any science to how anything happens really, but I can tell you that the Ucayali became much more efficient of a river.

The trucker in me says that going straight from Point A to Point B is much more time efficient than having to bend down and around it and back on up. The Ucayali has some rapids, but I’m sure the Amazon river dolphins, they are totally real animals, appreciate the newfound quickness of the route.

While writing this on a trucking company’s website, I could take the easy way out and say something to the tune of: “so if a river can figure out how to flow easier, you can figure out the best route to drive to your destination. The end.”

But I won’t.

If a river can figure out how to more efficiently flow, we all can figure out how to be more efficient. The Ucayali River doesn’t have a mind. It can’t think for itself. It’s just water, but somehow it still became more efficient. All of us are lucky, we have a brain, but how much we use ours will affect our efficiency.

Using our brainpower, we should also be able to cue up some efficiency in our lives in a much shorter time than 30 years like the Ucayali.

They don’t have to be big sweeping changes to make our lives more efficient. They can be small like once you read a non-important email, deleting it right away instead of never deleting anything in your inbox. Setting up the DVR to record every episode of The Voice because you end up watching sports every night anyway and forgetting to set the DVR thus missing the first ten or so minutes of every episode of The Voice. Those might just be me.

It works for us all, though. For our drivers, it might be using the Hot Keys on PeopleNet even more. It could be making sure we ask our co-workers every single question in one well-thought-out email instead of asking a million questions in two millions emails over the course of the day. It might simply be asking for help when you are lost or stuck. The list is endless, but unique to us all.

We are all unique human beings and we all have our own way of flowing which is both good and bad. Our flows are what make us unique, but sometimes our flows are too much of a rapids and we get stuck or we get too comfortable going down our lazy river and don’t want to change from our 1985.

The Goonies is still a really popular movie and Steven Spielberg is still making films today, but I have a feeling that in today’s world, they would have found a much more efficient way of putting on Sloth’s makeup.

It might be uncomfortable at first, but it’s for the best if we can all find some more efficiency. There’s bound to be rough waters, but with time being more critical to us all than it’s ever been, it’s worth diving on in to the river of efficiency and getting a little wet.

Effort: A Life Lesson From Baseball

The grass is getting green, the days are getting longer and baseball is just around the corner. The Minnesota Twins open up play on Monday afternoon at Camden Yards to take on the Baltimore Orioles and, to be totally honest, baseball has been on my mind a lot recently.

Baseball is a sign of warmer weather, which I am a fan of, but there are, of course, some life lessons to be learned from the game.

Let’s just look at one of the game’s most highlighted stats: batting average. A really good batting average is .300. That means a really good baseball player doesn’t get a hit in 70% of his at-bats. Only three times out of ten do really good baseball players succeed in getting a hit. That’s not a very high success rate, but they keep going back to the plate multiple times every single day.

The routine of baseball probably becomes a drag to some players because it is just that much of a routine. Every day you do the same thing from March through, if you’re lucky, October, but they do it and excel. Seven days a week.

I am a firm believer that the difference between great baseball players and so-so, ordinary players isn’t exactly skill and talent, but it is the difference between who has the dedication to be in the moment for every single pitch for 200-some games a year.

The world is still trying to determine what kind of baseball player Byron Buxton will be. Buxton didn’t show too much at the plate last season, but he still will be the Opening Day centerfielder for the Twins on Monday. Buxton certainly has the tools to be, this isn’t even an exaggeration, a Hall of Famer, but the jury is still out.

I think we found some solid proof on Thursday that Buxton will be great with this catch:

You might be asking: why this catch? Didn’t he do this last season already?

Yes, Buxton has always shown a flashy glove, but this was still Spring Training. Maybe at the beginning of spring, it wasn’t a certainty that Buxton would be on the Major League roster on Opening Day, but he knew he would be on the team for certain well before Thursday’s game. He still went all-out on that catch in a game that didn’t matter at all.

We can all learn from that. No matter what we are doing, every day we should be giving it our all.

John Wooden, one of the best basketball coaches of all time, agrees, but puts it a little differently. One of his most famous quotes which is one of my favorites is: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

It is easy to, to use another sports analogy, punt away a day. To simply give up on it or to not give your whole effort, but that won’t do you or anyone else any good. If you don’t give it your all, you’ll probably have to do it all over again.

Kottke Trucking recently has defined our core values and one of them is ‘doing it the right way’. There are many things that go into doing it the right way and one of them is always giving 110%.

Buxton’s effort and skills will lead him a boatload of money, fame and a mantle full of trophies in the world of baseball. Just think what might happen for you if you gave Byron Buxton’s over-the-shoulder spring-training-game effort every single day in everything that you do.

Six Photos: A Snapshot In Perspective

The saying goes that there are always two sides to every story. Every now and then, people will say that there are three sides: one person’s view, another person’s view and then the truth. All these views can make communication difficult and views can be skewed. So what happens when there are six different views on the same situation?

It gets complicated quickly.

Canon has shown us how a little different perspective can change everything. The camera making company invited six photographers to take photos of the same man, but every photographer got a different backstory to the man: a self-made millionaire, a lifesaver, an ex-con, a fisherman, a physic and a recovering alcoholic.

The photos that resulted were vastly different. The fisherman photo looks relaxed and blue collar, the physic looks like he’s always in thought and the ex-con picture has heavy shadows and simply looks mean. All pictures of the same guy, all vastly different perspectives.

Photography doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the trucking business, but the story that Canon is telling is bigger than photography. The story is all about perspective and perspective is key in communication.

My perspective of a situation while sitting in Buffalo Lake might be vastly different than yours while driving down the interstate in Florida. The key cogs at the origin of a load and the main people at the destination might have different views. The dispatch office might have a different view of things than the billing office. And it goes on and on.

Canon only had six photographers with different outlooks. In the trucking business, there are a lot of voices and all of those voices have to work in darn-near perfect harmony to get the job done which makes communication essential.

As Kottke Trucking grows, we need to keep communication between everyone clear and concise. To be the best trucking company, from top to bottom, we need to have the best communication with each other, on every level, in the entire industry.

We might not all see the man as a millionaire or an ex-con or a fisherman. We all have many things that affect the way we see life, but we can still try to see the world from other perspectives. The practice of doing so will make everyone’s job easier.

Everybody has different angles in life, but that’s okay as long as we are all focused in on the same goal.

Here’s the video of Cannon’s perspective experiment:

The Truck Driving Pitcher: Persevering After Failure

A mere 598 days ago, the Kottke Trucking blog touched on the signing of a pitcher made by the Minnesota Twins. Brandon Poulson was that pitcher and he caught our interest because he was once a truck driver.

Poulson went to work for his father’s excavating business after playing football in junior college, but soon turned again to baseball when he started attending Academy of Art University in San Francisco. That’s when he caught everyone’s attention because he could throw absolute bullets, consistently hitting 100 MPH on the radar gun.

The scout that signed Poulson said that he had the “best pure arm strength I’ve ever seen.”

As baseball observers know, arm strength isn’t the only thing involved in being a good pitcher. Control, throwing strikes, is a huge key and it’s something that Poulson hasn’t found. Poulson was released by the Twins this week after a couple seasons in the minors which resulted in 27 2/3 innings pitched with a total of 32 walks. More walks than innings pitched is never a good ratio to have.

When Poulson was initially signed by the Twins, we mentioned Steve Jobs and his mantra to ‘dream bigger’ and to never give up. Poulson’s release might be seen as a failure, but failure isn’t lethal. Just ask Steve Jobs.

Jobs failed multiple times throughout his life, but still ended up being one of the most successful and well known CEO’s in business history.

Jobs was a college dropout, but he attributes his dropping out to the typography computers feature today. When Jobs dropped out, he dropped in on a calligraphy class which resulted in the easily read typography on the first Mac and beyond. By the way, Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Zuckerberg, Brad Pitt, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Tom Hanks all also dropped out of college.

It’s well known that Jobs was once kicked out of his own company. The board kicked Jobs out of Apple, but Jobs didn’t run away from the technology world that he had thrived in. Jobs bought a computer animation company called Pixar which is now known for making films like ‘Toy Stoy’, ‘Monsters Inc.’ and ‘Finding Nemo’. The company was struggling before Jobs purchased a majority of the company and continued that struggle during the initial Jobs years which resuted in his multiple attempts at trying to sell the company just to break even with his investment of $50 million. No one ever bit on the offer and Jobs eventually sold Pixar to Disney in 2006 for a stock deal worth $7.4 billion. At the time of the sale, Jobs owned more than 50% of Pixar which would mean a nice, at least, $3.7 billion added value to Job’s portfolio.

After the firing from Apple, Jobs stayed in the computer business, too. Jobs started a company called NeXT which was seemingly a flop on its own. NeXT eventually was purchased by Apple which brought back Steve Jobs to Apple which allowed him to eventually once again rise to CEO of the company. In his second reign, Jobs introduced to the world the iPod, iPad, iPhone and all the Apple products that a large majority of us use on a daily basis. The operating system NeXT had was the foundation of the iOS system that is run across Apple products today.

Jobs failed sometimes but came out on the other side in a better position.

Poulson has already signed with the Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League. The Blue Crabs are a step down from the minor leagues of the Twins, but maybe it’s the step Poulson needs to further his baseball career. Sometimes a step back in reality is a step forward.

The moral of the story is to never give up after a failure. Your failure might not be as ugly as being kicked out of your own company or being cut by a professional baseball team, but we all endure failures. Nobody is perfect. Failures are learning opportunities and if we make the best out of them and learn from them, those failures aren’t really failures anymore.

Kottke Trucking’s second annual winner of the Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year is Rick Pautzke

MORTON, MN – On January 9, 2016, Kottke Trucking held its second annual Driver of the Year Program at Jackpot Junction in Morton, MN. The Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year award was given to Rick Pautzke of Grove City, MN.

Pautzke has been with Kottke Trucking since 2011 and behind the wheel of a semi for over 35 years now. During his career, Pautzke hasn’t had a preventable accident. His great contributions to Kottke Trucking led to his winning of the Jim Doering Award of Excellence for the third quarter of 2015 which qualified him for the Duane Connie Kottke Driver of the Year award.award

President and co-owner of Kottke Trucking Kurt Kottke said this about Pautzke:

“Ricky is a very worthy winner. He is a true professional. He plans his trips to keep him on time, keeps his equipment looking great, always looking out for customers and his fellow drivers and he is always willing to take on the challenging loads to help operations out of a tight spot. Any company would be proud to have Ricky as part of their team and we sure are happy he is on ours.”

Kottke Trucking’s Driver Board created the idea of the Driver of the Year and it was carried out by our staff.  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.rickyp2

The nominees come from the winners of the quarterly Jim Doering Award of Excellence. 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 fellow Jim Doering Award of Excellence winners in 2015 were Paul Hanson of Watkins, MN, Tim Harbarth of Hector, MN and Glenn Lachermeier of Lester Prairie, MN.

The inaugural winner of the Duane and Connie Driver of the Year was Tom Erickson of Ramsey, MN.

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. Kottke Trucking is based out of Buffalo Lake, MN.

You can see photos of the event on our Facebook page. Make sure you like us while you are there! We are on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+, too!

Glenn Lachermeier – Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year

Glenn Lachermeier

  • Fourth Quarter 2015, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year to be awarded on Saturday 9, 2016

Glenn Lachermeier has been with Kottke Trucking since 1992 and has had an excellent safety record for his 22-plus years with the company. Glenn is the fourth quarter recipient of the Jim Doering Award of Excellence.glenn3

One of Glenn’s fellow drivers nominated him for the award and had this to say:

“Glenn is professional and reliable. I think Glenn is what this award was created for. His longevity is also a positive. He is a hard worker week in and week out.”

That hard work has proven it’s self over and over again for over 22 years. That’s roughly 1,144 weeks or so. Congrats, Glenn! Thank you for a being a longtime hard working member of the Kottke Trucking family.

Lachermeier is the final of our four nominees for the Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year award. Stay tuned to our website and social media feeds for the announcement of the winner on Saturday evening.

Rick Pautzke – Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year

Rick Pautzke

  • Third quarter 2015, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year to be awarded on Saturday, January 9, 2016

Rick Pautzke has been behind the wheel of a big rig since 1980. In his 35-plus years of truck driving, hasn’t had one preventable accident. Pautzke has been with Kottke Trucking since 2011 and during his time with Kottke was a single point away from winning the Truck Driving Championship. Pautzke was our third quarter recipient of the Jim Doering Award of Excellence.rickyp2

Rick was nominated by his coworkers and one has this to say about him:

“Rick is always willing to help his fellow drivers. You can always count on him to be there if you need his help. He is proud to be truck driver and it shows.”

We are proud to have him as part of the Kottke Trucking family. Congratulations, Rick! Thank you for being a part of our company.

Pautzke is the third of our four candidates for the Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year award. Stay tuned to our website and social media feeds for the announcement of the winner on Saturday evening.

Tim Harbarth – Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year

Tim Harbarth

  • Second Quarter 2015, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year to be awarded on Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tim Harbarth has been with Kottke Trucking since 2006 and has not only been a great worker with a fabulous work ethic, but has done so with an excellent driving and safety record. Harbarth was given the second quarter Jim Doering Award of Excellence for his wonderful contributions to the company.

Harbarth was nominated by his peers and here’s what they had to say about him:tim

“Tim has shown much dedication to this company. He is willing to go wherever he is needed to go. Tim takes great pride in the equipment he operates. Tim is also very perceptive of the maintenance and troubleshooting problems that may arise on the road. Even when Tim is having a bad day, he still has a smile on his face!”

Tim’s smile is definitely a contagious one. Congratulations, Tim! Thank you for being a hard working member of the Kottke Trucking family.

Harbarth is the second of four nominees Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year award. Stay tuned to our website and social media feeds for the announcement of the winner on Saturday evening.

Paul Hanson – Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year

Paul Hanson

  • First Quarter 2015, Jim Doering Award of Excellence
  • Candidate for Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year to be awarded on Saturday, January 9, 2016

Paul Hanson has been behind the wheel of a truck for over 37 years and has been with Kottke Trucking since 2011. He was our first quarter winner of the Jim Doering Award of Excellence and for good reason.

Here’s what some from around the company are saying about Hanson’s great work ethic and helpfulness:PaulHanson1

“Paul is a very dedicated man both to family and his job. A very humble man. Someone any one can rely on. Always willing to help and do what is needed to get the job done. Very kind and considerate to all whom he comes in contact with.”

“Paul is a true gentleman. He helps other drivers by opening trailer doors, chocking tires and if necessary, spotting while the driver backs in a tight spot. He is so humble! He is so deserving of this award and is an excellent example of a model driver. Doesn’t complain, gets the job done and does it safely!”

We couldn’t agree more! Congratulations, Paul. Thank you for being a hard working member of the Kottke Trucking family.

Hanson is the first of our four nominees for the Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year award. Stay tuned to our website and social media feeds for the announcement of the winner on Saturday evening.

Kottke Trucking to announce the Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year Award this Saturday

Happy New Year, everyone! As we usher in 2016, we also need to look back on the year that was in 2015. Kottke Trucking will be looking back and awarding our Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year Award this coming Saturday, January 4, 2016 at Jackpot Junction in Morton, MN.

Through the next four days, we will be highlighting the four candidates for the award. The four drivers up for the Driver of the Year Award come from the winners of our Jim Doering Award of Excellence winners which is given out quarterly. All four of the candidates are great members of the Kottke Trucking family and are simply the best of the best.

Stay tuned to our website and social media throughout the week for the updates on the candidates and the eventual crowning of the Duane and Connie Kottke Driver of the Year Award on Saturday evening. We will post on these platforms right after the announcement to let everyone know who the winner is.

Thanks for the hard work this past year and we look forward to a great 2016. Enjoy the week ahead, safe travels and keep on truckin’!

(800) 248-2623 (320) 833-5385

Kottke Trucking, Inc.