C H Robinson’s Carrier Spotlight of the Month focused on Kottke Trucking Inc, a family-owned refrigerated and dry van carrier based in Buffalo Lake MN, in December 2014.
In 1938, Elmer Kottke started Kottke Trucking Inc with one truck. Today, the company has 104 trucks on the road and Elmer’s legacy continues under the ownership of his grandsons Kurt, Kory, and Kyle. The three Kottke brothers took over the business in 1996 from their parents, Duane and Connie Kottke.
Mike Udermann, Kottke’s vice-president, recently shared his thoughts on the industry and how Kottke Trucking has changed over the years.
•What makes Kottke Trucking unique? The main differentiator of our business is that we are in our third generation of ownership by the same family. This family-built company has had the same strong values about service since 1938. Those core principles are reflected in parts of our mission statement: “Delivering world-class logistics services. We provide dependable customer service using a team that emits integrity and excellence.” We work with many shippers that have been with us for decades. That loyalty is a testament to the dedication and hard work that was instilled upon us by Elmer, Duane, and Connie.
•How do 3PLs impact your business? We work with 3PLs in various modes. They can help reposition our equipment in strategic lanes where we have a need for that capacity. Their role and impact in our industry has evolved over the years and many 3PLs are much more than “just a broker” as they were in the past.
•When working with a customer for the first time, what are your expectations? Onboarding a new customer into our operations involves various departments—including sales and operations, finance, along with our ownership team. We want to ensure that we set the expectations for both us and the customer upfront and agree to them. This helps minimize any surprises that may occur. We look to add customers who fit within our current mode of operations as well as our 28-state footprint.
•What industry or technology innovations have improved efficiency within your business? Many technology solutions have emerged over the years to include electronic logging devices (ELDs), satellite tracking technology for trucks and trailers, integrated dispatch management software, not to mention all the innovations on the trucks themselves. These technologies have allowed us to grow and manage our business operations more effectively, improve efficiency within our business, and provided us the tools to help us increase our bottom line.
•If you could change one thing about the transportation industry, what would it be? It would be to improve the popularity of our industry as it relates to drivers. How can we attract, recruit, and retain drivers to ensure the continued growth and success of this industry? A key slogan for many years in the trucking industry was “Without Trucks, America Stops.” Well, without a driver to drive that truck, owning the truck doesn’t matter much—trucks need drivers behind the wheel.
•What should the general public know about the trucking industry? The trucking industry delivers everything you own and most things that you see on a daily basis. While it is a great industry to work in, with many men and women who have dedicated their lives for the betterment of others, it is also a tough industry that takes hard work. Many of the trucks you see on the road today were started as a one-man operation. These owners have built up their business on hard work, integrity, a high moral standard, and by offering fair wages.
When I wake up in the morning, I don’t just think about my family, but also about the livelihoods that we here at Kottke Trucking provide to dozens of families. I know that my work on any given day will impact our business and their lives. It’s always my goal to help our business continue to grow for a solid future.
The general public should know that those of us who work within the trucking industry all care about getting your food, or clothing, or household items to you in the safest and most efficient manner possible. After all, it’s our job to deliver the goods that keep America moving.
Those interested in being featured as a Carrier Spotlight of the Month should email [email protected]