Guest column: Transportation, logistics and distribution

Published 8:40 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Guest column by John Double

One of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce’s committees is the Chamber Business Education Collaborative (CBEC). As introduced in August, the CBEC will be sharing information monthly with readers that will include the career fields within our community, future trends within these industries, and information about education, wages and growth within these fields. It is our goal to increase awareness on the amazing career fields and careers right here in our county. We hope to educate the readers on what types of skills and education is needed for those career types in hopes of helping local employers fill vacant positions and strengthening our local workforce.

John Double

This month’s article is based around the career cluster of transportation, distribution and logistics. These vital careers impact all of our lives to some degree daily; however, many of them are performed in the background without us realizing their importance. While transportation covers the movement of people and products from one location to another, logistics involves the coordination that guides those movements and distribution involves the networks used to deliver the people and products to their final destination. This article will compile some information from some Albert Lea Businesses involved in this sector.

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When looking at the transportation sector, Albert Lea is home to the Riverland Community College Truck Driving Program. Jonathan Rymer, Truck Driving Program director/instructor, had this to say about the careers involved with transportation: “Transportation and transportation-related industries employ over 13.3 million people, accounting for 9.1% of workers in the United States. The trucking industry is the largest single section of the transportation sector. It accounts for 48% of the entire transportation sector’s employment. The trucking industry employs nearly as many people as the other subsectors combined. Riverland’s comprehensive CDL training offerings will play a crucial role in our area to help meet the demand for much needed transportation workers.”

Christine Thompson, transit operations manager with SMART Transit, entered the transportation/logistics careers as a second career. “I have met so many folks that have stayed working for 20+ years. They stay because you are assisting people in all walks of life. It’s truly rewarding.” SMART Transit has both positions in transportation (those people operating the buses) and logistics (those people dispatching and scheduling the buses). There are many people in our community that rely on SMART Transit for their work, medical appointments, everyday errands, education and more.

Matt Greibrok, VP of business development from Sanco Enterprises shared, “Over the course of 70+ years and four generations, Sanco Enterprises has grown from a single Thermo King dealership in Minnesota to five companies, with multiple locations across three states, representing premier brands of industrial equipment. Since 1938, Thermo King has been synonymous with quality transport temperature control, leading the industry in refrigeration products. Another one of Sanco Enterprises’ divisions based out of Albert Lea is Sanco Services — providing product installation in the transportation market on-site across the United States.”

Storage plays a key role when it comes to distribution and logistics, and an Albert Lea business impacting this career area since 1917 is Minnesota Freezer Warehouse. “Warehousing/logistics in the cold chain is a worldwide endeavor across multiple industries,” stated Charlie Newell, president-CEO of Minnesota Freezer Warehouse. “…in the United States alone, it accounted for 248.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is expected to exceed 410 billion U.S. dollars by 2028. The current trends in cold chain logistics continue to grow and continue to adjust in this booming industry for the simple fact that people need to eat, and people continue to need medications to live.”

Each of these career areas have many things to offer potential employees right here in beautiful Albert Lea. Many of the careers have very competitive salaries and benefits whether at the entry level or the experienced level as a career. All of them are seeing growth as an industry and are projected to grow in the future.

John Double is a member of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber Business Education Collaborative.