15 Jun Getting to Know Michael and Bridgett
Michael McKinney is my younger brother. He’s been here at AMT for over 25 years and has served in many different capacities from sales to operations to CEO. I helped out when my parents first started this business over 30 years ago, but then spent the next 20+ years having and raising kids and teaching. A couple of years ago, Michael asked me if I’d be interested in returning to AM Transport as a content writer, and I said yes. The past couple of years have been so much fun, working with my brothers and learning more about the business. I thought it might be fun for us to do a family Getting to Know. So here we go.
When did you start working for AM Transport Services, and what did you do?
Michael: I started in October of 1995 doing outside sales. My job was to get new business. My dad told me to stop anywhere there was a dock door. It wasn’t easy, but it worked.
Bridgett: I worked for AM Transport in its first year. My mom and dad started this business, so when my dad was on the road and Mom was working elsewhere, I’d (wo)man the phones. That lasted only a few months. Soon I had my first child (Erik Jensen who also works at AMT), went back to school, had three more kids, and spent the next 20 odd years teaching part time. I came back to AMT a few years back to take care of our writing needs (blog posts, email newsletters, email campaigns, sales materials, etc.). My husband was retiring, and it seemed like a good time for me to get a regular out-of-the-house job.
How has your job changed and evolved over the years?
Michael: It is crazy how quickly things have changed since I began. When I was doing outside sales, I knew where just about every payphone within a 150-mile radius was located. There were no cell phones (unless you had one of those huge bag phones). If I needed directions (no Google Maps) or needed to call into the office to get a rate, I had to know where to stop and make a call. Also my early rate proposals were completed on a typewriter. No kidding. We had one computer in the office, and the dot matrix-style printer just didn’t cut the layout or look we desired. And that’s only 26 years ago which doesn’t seem all that long. Then again, it’s longer than quite a few of the people working here have been alive.
Bridgett: So much has changed. When I first worked at AM Transport (30+ years ago), our office was located in a little cabin on a little lake. My mom and dad were the only employees. We had one desk, one phone, and no air conditioning. Fast forward to today–we have a beautiful, open office, lots of desks, no phones, and a bunch of talented and fun people who make sure everything is taken care of.
Do you have a favorite funny story/memory about work?
Michael: Rob McClain and I were on a sales trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio. We finished up our meetings on a Friday afternoon and decided to stay overnight in Cleveland, Ohio. It had been a long week, so we enjoyed a few beers and took in a game at Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians). The next morning we got up, threw our bags in the back of the minivan, and hit the road. As we were driving, we noticed the road noise was super loud. I looked back and saw that we were driving down the interstate with the back door UP. Quickly, we pulled over and were relieved that our bags were still in the car. Thankfully, it was a Saturday, and we had no business to conduct that day. We were definitely not on our A-game.
Bridgett: My brother, Michael, and I are both pranksters. We love hiding behind doors only to jump out and scare some unsuspecting person. One day I was leaving work, minding my own business. I hopped into my vehicle, backed out of my parking spot, and then proceeded to drive out of the parking lot when Michael popped up from the way back and said, “You can let me out here.” First I jumped, then I started laughing uncontrollably. My heart was pounding and tears streamed from my eyes as I hit the brake and put the car in park. Without another word, he climbed to the front of the car and exited the car, waltzing into the office. I laughed all the way home.
Tell us about your family?
Michael: My wife, Brandy, and I have three awesome children: Madeline (18), Chloe (16), and Dee (13). They’re great kids who are active in school, music, arts, sports, and work. We’re getting ready for a big change at home with Madeline heading away to college in August. We’re a close-knit bunch, so it will be weird not having her around on a daily basis. It will be an adjustment, but change is part of life, so we’ll figure it out.
An interesting point in regards to extended family, parents and siblings, is that we all wound up living in Olney. Most of our kids are still around here as well. It’s been great to be close with my siblings and parents as we grow older and wiser. It’s also been a blast seeing all of our kids grow up together and the friendships develop between the cousins.
Bridgett: Yes, we’re a tight-knit bunch. My husband, Eric, and I have four kids: Erik, Sydni, Audrey, and Carter. We have five grandkids: Braylin, Liam, and Rumi (Sydni and Chris) and Grace and Lyla (Erik and Hannah). Our two younger kids, Audrey and Carter, still live at home, so we often have a houseful of people. It’s so much fun.
Like Michael said, we have a pretty big extended family, and that’s a lot of fun too. We vacation together and get together most weekends to swim or boat. I love living near my family. It’s one of my favorite things.
Are you a morning or an evening person?
Michael: I’m definitely a morning person. I love getting up while it’s still dark and quiet. I typically start my day meditating before heading outside for a run or to the basement for a row. When I get back, the house is waking up. I grab a cup of coffee and see what everyone’s got going that day.
Bridgett: Not a morning person. If I had my way, I’d stay up until midnight or 1AM and sleep until 9 (or later). I’ve always liked being awake when everyone else is in bed sleeping. It gives me quiet time to read or watch a show I’m hooked on. Since my husband, Eric, is a morning person, it works out well for me.
What’s your favorite AMT after-hours activity?
Michael: I actually have two of them . . . Our annual family picnic and the annual Christmas party. I love seeing everyone together with their families. The interactions, energy and fun are contagious, and the effect we all have on each other is awesome. It’s so cool to be part of something like we have.
Bridgett: I love the Christmas party. We’ve been having one since the business started, and it’s a great time. We have good food, good music, and lots of laughter. It’s lovely to celebrate with all the great people who work here. I’ll also put a plug in for the new happy hours we’re having in the beer garden. With local musicians playing and food and beverages these happy hours are a great way to end the week!
Michael: I’d have to go with summer because the kids are out of school, and I just dig getting to hang out with them more often. And if I’m allowed two, I’d say fall, as well. I love the fall weather, sweatshirts, campfires, marching band, and football games.
Bridgett: I’m going with summer. I always liked it when the kids were out of school and at home (and we could stay up late and sleep in). I love being outdoors, swimming, riding bikes, or just hanging out on the front or back porch. That said, I truly enjoy all the seasons. Walking is one of my favorite things to do, and I get out in all weather, and that allows me to have an appreciation for all temperatures.
Michael: Wood-fired pizza. It’s just so darn good, and everyone in the family loves it. Simple, delicious, and fast.
Bridgett: Seafood of any kind. I love shrimp, fish, and scallops. I could eat seafood every day of the week.
Favorite childhood memory?
Michael: Hmmm. Playing in my sandbox at home, coming in for lunch made by my mom, and heading right back out. Maybe that’s why I still love building in the sand on vacation?
Bridgett: Going to my grandma’s house in Wendelin. It’a tiny little town, and Grandma lived at the end of the only residential street. She owned the town grocery–an old-timey store with a meat counter and a candy stand. I loved filling those little brown bags with candy cigarettes and Zero bars.
Best book you’ve read this past year?
Michael: The Overstory by Richard Powers. My wife recently reviewed it on the AMT Summer Reading List. It’s a phenomenal read, and I highly recommend it.
Bridgett: Books (like walking) are one of my favorite things in all the world. Nothing like the smell of a brand new book (or an old book that’s been languishing on a shelf). Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson is at the top of my list for the last twelve months. It’s a relevant and interesting history of the caste system in the United States and she takes a look at both the Holocaust and the caste system in India for comparisons. I also really loved Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. You won’t go wrong if you decide to read any one of the above. Right now I’m reading Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad–a memoir of Jaouad’s journey with leukemia. Wowsers!
Favorite dish to take to a potluck?
Michael: Buffalo chickpea dip. Brandy makes the best I’ve ever tasted. It uses cashews and chickpeas and it’s so good it’s addictive.
Bridgett: My favorite potluck dish is artichoke/spinach dip. I make this one from the website Damn Delicious (minus the onions because onions are gross). And if you want to skip the slow cooker and make it in the oven, it works just as well.
Dogs or cats?
Michael: Dogs. Yeah, we have two pets–a cat and a dog. Sugar is our little dog. She’s a rescue, so we’re not entirely sure, but think she’s part chihuahua and part beagle (weird little thing). Our cat, Hipster, is a neighborhood cat we kind of adopted. She has some sort of hip dysplasia (hence the name) but gets around really well. She kind of hops her back legs like a bunny. I guess we have some odd pets. . .
Bridgett: I’m a cat person, but because my sister is allergic our cat, Josie, lives in the garage. You have to like an animal who keeps the mice at bay, right? We also have two pugs, Oranges and Fiasco. They might be the nicest dogs you’ll ever meet if you’re lucky enough to meet them.
What’s your favorite thing about summer?
Michael: Vacation. We take a trip or two every summer. This year we are renting a home in Gulf Shores, Alabama with my siblings, parents, and all of the kids. We’ve done this quite a few times. It’s crazy, and we all love it. Later in the summer, my little family is taking a trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park for some cooler temps, hiking, and beautiful scenery.
Bridgett: I’m going to echo Michael here and say vacation for sure. I’m so looking forward to our vacation in Gulf Shores. It’s super laid back and wild at the same time. We mostly hang out on the beach. I grew up with all of my cousins and my kids and grandkids are growing up with all of their cousins. This year, we’ll have three babies under one-year-old on our trip!
With things opening up after the pandemic, what are you looking forward to?
Michael: I’m looking forward to getting back to a ball game. We typically go with the kids to Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals a couple of times a year. Also I have a group of friends that meets up every year in a city to catch a game. I’m looking forward to catching games with both the family and seeing my old crew.
Bridgett: Getting together with friends. While I spend the abundance of my time with family, I have really missed getting together with friends.
If you could give your 12-year-old self some advice, what would it be?
Michael: No matter how badly your Dad wants a garden, don’t dig up Uncle Ralph’s sweet corn and plant it in your sandbox. Ok, I was younger than 12, but I could have really used that advice!
Bridgett: Don’t suffer twice.