Getting to know Laura and Joel
This week’s edition of Getting to Know . . . features long-timers Laura Matthews and Joel Carey. Laura Matthews began her tenure at AMT way back in November of 2011 as an account manager, and Joel started (drumroll please) in 2003 as a carrier representative, a role he continued in for several years. I asked them a few questions to find out how much things have changed and what (if anything) has stayed the same.
How has your job changed and/or evolved over the years?
Laura: I mainly do the same thing I’ve been doing for the past ten years. I work with customers to set up their shipments. I still schedule appointments and help them with pricing, as well. The way this happens has definitely changed. When I started, the majority of shipments were phoned in. We had landline phones and didn’t have a way to transfer to a specific person, so there was a lot of yelling out names and what line they needed to grab. Now we have an internet phone system with headsets and can easily and much more quietly transfer calls without having to yell! When I started we printed all the load info, and the carrier managers had to go up to the spot in the office where these printouts were kept in order to work on the shipments. Now it’s all in our system where multiple people can work on a shipment at the same time. Most shipments are either emailed in or sent through EDI. Some appointments are still scheduled through phone, but most are scheduled through email or a portal. There are a lot more customer portals today than when I started.
Joel: My responsibilities have evolved through various positions over the years from carrier representative to customer account management to LTL/IM operations, claims processing, and vendor compliance. While the general policies and requirements of all these positions have remained somewhat static over the years, the means toward the desired results have changed drastically with the constant improvements in transportation technology. What was, in my early days, an industry firmly rooted in landline phones and fax machines is now a pretty amazing mix of TMS, EDI, API, GPS, and other technologies that I believe, in the near future, will nearly eliminate the still-common phone call from daily industry operations. I’ve been very pleased with the way AMT has been ahead of the game embracing operational technology improvements over the years.
Do you have a favorite funny story or memory of an incident that happened at work?
Laura: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is when I was pregnant with my son. I was in the last month of pregnancy, and I was in a LOT of pain. I think I got up one time all day (besides going to lunch). I could feel my stomach touching the desk every so often, but I ignored it. About 3:45 one day, it felt like a rubber band snapped in my belly. When I got up, I realized what I thought had happened, really did happen–my water broke. So, I came back to my desk and said I was going to the hospital. Rob asked if he could drive me because he knew I was going to drive myself.
Joel: My favorite on-the-job amusement occurred many years ago when I was supervising our biggest account. I sent off a fast email to their logistics manager that I began with “I know you’re very busy,” and noticed immediately after I hit send that in my haste, I had miskeyed and dropped a “t” in front of the “y” in the last word of that sentence (“busty”). After about 90 seconds of convincing myself that she, and the other 5 people copied, would gloss right over it and not notice, the phone rang and I was greeted by the logistics manager and her whole office in the background having quite the laugh-out-loud at my expense. Needless to say, it was quite some time til I heard the end of that.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
Laura: I grew up with two sisters but have a relatively large extended family. I have always looked forward to holidays with all my cousins, and family reunions never disappointed. As I got older, I was able to take several trips with different cousins/family members to Niagara Falls, out west to South Dakota and Wyoming, and also to San Diego, Cancun, Los Angeles, and Palm Springs. I’m probably missing a few. Now I am married and have 2 kids. Kylah is 8-years-old and in 3rd grade. Caleb is 6-years-old and in 1st grade. I still get excited for family get-togethers and any time my kids get to see their cousins.
Joel: My wife and I have a teenage daughter. My mom still lives in my central Iowa hometown, and I grew up with 3 siblings who are now evenly spread across the country in Washington State, Michigan, and Washington, DC. I’m also very fortunate to have a wonderful gang of in-laws.
Are you a morning person or an evening person?
Laura: I used to be a night owl, but I find it hard to stay awake late anymore. So I’d say I’m a morning person. I still like to stay up later than everyone else in my family, so I can have a moment of peace and quiet and watch a TV show. But there are a lot of times that I’ll fall asleep before the show is even over. Typically I’m up before anyone else getting ready for the day. Unless it’s a weekend. Then I like to sleep in.
Joel: I’m very much and have always been a morning person. I get up very early regardless of weekday or weekend, and with or without an alarm clock. I spend at least an hour of “non-time” in my den every day until the others wake up or responsibilities call. I keep myself entirely disconnected from the upcoming day during this time and usually just drink a cup of coffee and read the news or other articles of interest.
What’s your favorite AMT activity?
Laura: The Christmas party is always a lot of fun. I really enjoy the family picnic too. The kids love coming and always have a blast playing with all the other kids.
Joel: I’d have to agree that the Christmas party is always something to look forward to. Good food, good camaraderie, and a good chance to review another successful year at AMT together.
What’s your favorite season?
Laura: I love spring for all the new flowers popping up and the warmer weather. I love summer because it’s summer! There’s so much fun stuff to do!! Swimming, boating, camping, vacations, and all of our birthdays are in the summer. I love fall because of the changing colors, the cooler weather, bonfires, and the pumpkin patch. I love winter for Christmas, and that’s about it. I’m not a fan of cold weather. I’m not a fan of driving in the snow, but I do enjoy with it snows and we get to stay home and enjoy it. After all the snow we got this past winter, my kids loved all the time they got to spend outside many days in a row before it melted. I loved watching them play in the snow and to see how much fun they were having.
Joel: I’m partial to spring and the opportunity it brings to get outside and be active.
What’s your favorite food?
Laura: Growing up, my favorite dish was my mom’s Ham Casserole. I’m not sure why I liked it so much because she always put a ton of onions in it. (Which I do NOT like.) But I take out the chunks of onions, and it’s the best!! I still love it today, and so do both my kids.
Joel: That’s an easy one. I could live out my days with pepperoni pizza and chocolate chip cookies as my only sustenance for every meal . . . but don’t want to imagine my resulting diameter from doing so.
Tea or coffee?
Laura: Coffee is appalling, awful, atrocious, disgusting, and all-around gross. The smell of it makes me want to vomit. In fact, when I was pregnant with my first, I got sick all day, every day from the smell of coffee. I would come out to the kitchen to get some breakfast, and there were many times my husband had already started his coffee, and I’d have to take off running to make it to the bathroom. I like sweet tea ok, but I prefer water all day, every day.
Joel: Coffee is delicious, invigorating, wonderful, necessary, and all-around fabulous. I get a good deal of my daily steps due to the coffee machine being at the opposite end of the office.
Do you have a favorite childhood memory?
Laura: Playing Barbies with my sisters. We had a whole Barbie town set up in our basement–cardboard boxes for houses. We spent hours playing Barbies together.
Joel: I spent a good bit of my childhood living in a rural area that included several acres of woods and a decent-sized creek that we had the run of as our fishing, hiking, and exploring playground.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past 12 months? How about television show, movie, podcast?
Laura: I’ve really enjoyed reading the That Boy series. And Firefly Lane was the last book I read. It’s really good too, and there’s a Netflix series based on the book as well. My favorite TV shows are still Grey’s Anatomy and This is Us. Lego Masters has been a big hit in our household though. The kids are constantly asking when a new season will be starting. (June, if anyone is curious.) The best movie . . . I feel like I haven’t seen many new movies lately, but Raya the Last Dragon was really good. And I’m really excited for F9 to come out this summer. The Choice is still one of my favorites that I could sit down and watch anytime.
Joel: I’m not much of a book reader, but am a big fan of movies and a few TV series. One of my favorite TV series that my daughter, thankfully roped me into during the lockdown, was The Umbrella Academy. I found it very unique and quirky and can’t wait for season 3. Also at the top of my list is Wandavision, which was an excellent life preserver for my daughter’s and my Marvel movie obsession as most of these were pushed far into the future by the pandemic. Had any Marvel movies been released in the past year, they’d be mentioned here.
What’s your favorite dish to take to a potluck?
Laura: I have so many I like to make. So it usually depends on my mood, how much time I have, and what sounds best at the time. A couple of faves are ham and cheese sliders or pinwheels, cheeseball, spinach dip or any dips, and deviled eggs.
Joel: I have a fairly spectacular (I’m told) chicken enchilada technique that is so obscenely rich and caloric it can only come out once or twice a year.
Dogs or cats?
Laura: We have one dog and one cat. I prefer dogs over cats. But the cat is really good at catching mice and other critters.
Joel: C: none of the above.
With summer on the horizon what’s your favorite summer activity.
Laura: We do a lot of stuff in the summer. We usually go camping with my husband’s brothers and their families which is always a good time. We also tend to travel to Florida with my husband’s twin brother. We spend a lot of time outside whether it’s riding 4-wheelers, fishing, or landscaping. The four of us in my family all have summer birthdays. My husband created a pretty epic slip n’ slide for the kids’ birthdays last year. So I’m sure he’ll be breaking that out again this year.
Joel: I’m somewhat of a homebody and mostly just enjoy maintaining and then relaxing in our fairly large and labor-intensive yard. There are always a couple happy summer long-weekend trips upstate to visit friends and family, and there’s a rare trip to the beach on tap for this summer as well.
The pandemic has slowed things down. What is one thing you are looking forward to as people are vaccinated and things open up?
Laura: I’m looking forward to our family reunion that was cancelled last summer.
Joel: Another easy one–movies in a theater. The local drive-in theater has been a great bridge to the better days ahead though.
If you could offer your 12-year-old self some advice, what would you say?
Laura: Don’t settle. Stay true to yourself and what you believe.
Joel: Embrace your individuality, and at the forks in the trail, follow the path you want to rather than the one you think you’re supposed to.