Happy Veterans Day

A recent article in Supply Chain Dive

got us thinking about veterans in the transportation industry. Barry Hochfelder writes about the service people in World War II:  

The men and women who — without computer aid — arranged for 6,939 ships, 11,590 aircraft, 156,000 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 were logisticians of the first order. Twenty-seven days after the June 6 invasion, there were more than one million allied troops, 566,648 tons of supplies and 171,532 vehicles ashore.

In logistics, we talk about the driver shortage a lot! We discuss the necessity of recruiting service people to the seemingly endless supply of truck driving jobs. But veterans are often uniquely qualified to work in jobs that require transportation knowledge too.

Sunday was Veterans Day. It’s always a good time to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Armed Forces. But it’s also a good day to think about and appreciate the skills, experience, and sense of balance and import veterans bring to the table.

Veterans make great team members.

Here at AM Transport Services, we know this firsthand. Director of IT, David Abell, and Sales Development Representative, Patrick Umfleet, both began their careers in the military.

David, who’s been at AMT for 8 years, was in the Army National Guard for 15 years.

David Abell

I joined when I was 17. My unit was activated in 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was deployed for 18 months with 12 of them in Camp Habbaniyah, Iraq.

We asked David how his experience in the military prepared him for the work he does today in logistics. He explained that he joined the Army as a Combat Engineer, and that while he never worked in logistics he feels his entire Army career focused on the supply chain.

There are so many moving pieces in the military. You have to constantly think about who needs what and how they are going to get it. Whether you are talking about beans or bullets.

As I moved up ranks, I began managing people. Part of that responsibility included making sure they had everything they needed. This included food, water, equipment, and gear. Sometimes coordinating this stuff meant that individual soldiers transported goods on their person while other times we had to coordinate vehicle re-supplies. Either way, it had to be arranged. That’s logistics.

The Army offered David a lot of experience

in the day-to-day logistics of getting things from here to there (and we think we know something about JIT and expedited deliveries). But how else did his service prepare David for working in transportation?

Attention to detail. One of the biggest lessons I learned in the military is that details make a difference. This applies to both training exercises and wars. Having specific information, intelligence, or data gives you a clear advantage. I think this has helped me a lot in logistics. Obsessing over the details makes a huge impression on customers and helps us stand out in a very commoditized industry.

Conversely, most of the time in the military, you’re given incomplete information and expected to make the best decision anyway. This is hard for a lot of people, but I thrive on it. And it’s a huge help in the civilian sector when there are unknown variables. Sometimes you have to analyze the data you have and make a quick decision.

Patrick, who has been part of the AMT team for almost a year now, served in the Air Force for 8 years.


Patrick Umfleet on the left.

I was 20 when I joined the Air Force. In a four-year span, I was deployed to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan a couple of times, as well as, Sicily, Italy, in support of the conflict in Libya (and what followed) in Northern Africa/the horn.

Patrick believes his years in the Air Force prepared him for a career in logistics.

Logistics is all over the place in the Air Force. It’s integral to everything done on the flight-line; from making sure parts are in and ordered in order to fix aircraft to deployments and making sure everyone has all of their gear, weapons, ammo, etc.

There’s strategic planning for how many aircraft need to travel to each deployed location in order to perform offensive operations overseas while continuing to protect the continental US. How many jets do we need to send? How many do we need to stay back? How many parts need to be sent? How many people need to go per aircraft to sustain 24/7 operations? How many tents do we need? Food? Water? It goes on and on.

Most of Patrick’s day-to-day work at AM Transport

revolves around sales. While the Air Force definitely gave him an education in logistics, did it prepare him for sales? Patrick explained the the military offers big life-skills advantages. And one of them is learning the importance of doing work that makes life easier for your customers.

I think the biggest way military work translates to sales is in customer service. It may sound silly at first, but when you think about it, isn’t everything in life kind of like being a mini-promoter/politician? You need to sell yourself, your skills, your product, your people, your co-workers. And the way to do this is by being really good at customer service.

Here at AM Transport, we agree with Barry Hochfelder over at Supply Chain Dive, who claims that “veterans understand the supply chain and its raison d’être: Get the right goods to the right place at the right time.” And after talking to David and Patrick about their experience moving from the military to the world of logistics, we realize how lucky we are to have veterans on our team.

And speaking of teamwork

(which is something we appreciate here at AMT) David’s got a great story about how the Army taught him to forge connection in order to persevere.

We spent a lot of time in the field, sleeping in tents, eating packaged food, and going days without a shower or electricity. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was necessary. When faced with these situations, you can have a negative outlook and make it harder for yourself and everyone around you, or you can try to find humor. We knew we were in it together, and we needed each other to make it through. The best course of action was to find a way to motivate each other to keep going. Sometimes it just really sucked, but you didn’t have the option to quit. You had to grit it out. I really try to bring this mindset to my work at AM Transport.

We’re proud to thank David Abell and Patrick Umfleet for their years of service in the United States Military, and we’re glad to have them on our team!