Getting to know David Abell
When did you begin working at AM Transport, and what did you do when you started?
I started August 1, 2011. (It will be 10 years very soon.) When I first began, I was the IT manager. My daily duties included making sure the fax machine had enough ink and keeping the servers running. I also helped the sales team stay out of the spam folder for potential customers.
How has your job changed and evolved over the years?
I can honestly say I never imagined I would be CEO of AM Transport when I started 10 years ago. I’m beyond grateful and excited to work with such talented (and cool) people on a daily basis.
When I first started, I spent the majority of my time supporting the operations team–helping them with technology and fixing problems. Now I spend the majority of my time keeping the vision and maintaining the culture.
Do you have a favorite funny work story/memory/incident that you’d like to share?
Years ago, we had a leadership retreat, and we were doing strategic planning for the upcoming year. Colby Shawver was fairly new to the company, and it was his first planning session. It was 8AM on the first day, and Colby was chosen to lead a session identifying our ideal customer. HIs eyes glazed over like a 4th grader who forgot to do his homework the night before. It was an uncomfortable moment for Colby, to say the least! Luckily, we laugh about it now years later. While it’s funny, it also shows that we’ve always been obsessed with our customers and how we can add daily value to their businesses.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
My wife, Paige, and I will celebrate our 10 year anniversary on New Year’s Eve. We have a fiercely independent daughter Claire who is 6. Our karate-battling, video game-loving son Jack is almost 5.
So would you say you’re a morning person or an evening person?
When I was younger I preferred staying up late and sleeping in, but now in order to get everything done in a day, I wake up pretty early. My alarm clock is usually set for 4:30AM. By 9PM, I’m pretty worn out and heading to bed!
What’s your favorite AMT after-hours activity?
I enjoy ALL of them, but my favorite is the Christmas party. Christmas is just a nice time to slow down and reflect on the past year’s wins. This is such a fast-paced business, that we rarely have time to reflect on the wins. Our Christmas party is a great time with the entire company. Also, we always have great entertainment and you get to see everyone’s dance moves (or lack of)!
What’s your favorite season?
I’m not a fan of cold weather. I feel like I’ve experienced enough super hot days and super cold days that I’d be just fine having 70 degree sunny weather for the rest of my life.
What’s your favorite food?
I love wings and fries. Or a nice Chicago-style thick crust pizza!
Do you have a favorite childhood memory?
My dad had a lot of brothers and sisters, so every family event was huge, and I had tons of fun playing with all of my cousins. We didn’t have extravagant toys, just simply being together and sharing experiences was great!
What’s the best book you’ve read in the past 12 months?
Here are a few of my recommendations from the past few months.
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell
What’s your favorite dish to take to a potluck?
I would have to refer to my wife for this one. I like it when she takes buffalo chicken dip. Or I’ll grab something store-made if it’s left up to me.
Dogs or cats?
Neither. I’ve got enough chaos in my life between work and kids.
What’s your favorite summer activity?
We spend a bunch of time hiking and in the water. We got a good deal on an inflatable paddle board and recently bought some inflatable tubes. I have a bad habit of over-engineering stuff, but my kids just like water, rocks, and dirt. So I’m learning to keep it simple.
What are you looking forward to these days?
I’m hopeful that things can stay opened up. I think the pandemic has taught us a lot, and I’m hopeful that through this, we can find ways to be stronger as families, communities, and businesses.
If you could offer your 12-year-old self some advice, what would it be?
To read more. I didn’t discover a love of reading until my mid-20s. I can’t imagine all the good books I could have discovered if I’d started reading when I was 12.