Continuing our series for National Women’s History Month, we shine the spotlight on Michelle Koertgen, our Director of Sales. Michelle has worked in the transportation industry for more than 30 years and has seen the contributions of women evolve in the field. She shared how much things have changed and how the industry looks different for women today.
It all started when I was attending Northeastern University and looking for a job. A friend of my father’s owned a company that manufactured steel shelving, and they had an opening in the office. I started there in 1988 and worked while I finished my degree. As I learned more about what they did, I wanted to know more. So when they decided to start exporting products, I took a course to learn about it. Then the traffic manager left, and I was able to step into the job. Although I never received the title, I got more involved with international shipping and learned a lot. I also met many well-connected industry people and heard of an opening at the Japanese shipping company, K-Line. I worked there for five years as a regional coordinator.
I’ve had a lifelong career in transportation. I’ve worked at large transportation companies like Overnight and Exel, which are now known as UPS and DHL. I also worked at BTT, a drayage company, for eight years. My experiences in these different types of transportation companies help me to respond well to customers today.
A friend who worked with me at BBT moved to C&K Trucking and told me the company was looking for a Director of Sales. When I met the company’s president, Mike Burton, I was impressed with how grounded he was and how much we had in common. They made me an offer, but there was a problem—I still had a non-compete clause with my employer. C&K Trucking ended up waiting six months for me to join the company legally. I’ve been with them for seven years now.
It hasn’t always been easy. Thirty years ago, being a woman in trucking was rare. I faced misogynistic coworkers and had to advocate for myself. My best defense was to work harder and smarter than the other men. As my career evolved, I grew a thick skin and learned how to be successful wherever I went. Today the industry is different. I work with many female managers, and they provide a supportive, family-oriented environment for women to advance.
It’s a “forever” industry like banking and healthcare that will never disappear, so there’s lots of opportunity. It helps if you have a type A personality and are attentive to detail. It also helps to be good with people and be able to defuse tense situations diplomatically, especially when unexpected circumstances can upset drivers and customers. They look to you for solutions!
I love the atmosphere and the management, who understand you have a family and personal life. I appreciate how C&K Trucking always looks for growth opportunities and plans for the future. I was also impressed by how they survived the pandemic and seamlessly transitioned to remote working. Also, the tenure of the managers at C&K Trucking is impressive, which speaks volumes about the working environment in general. I would highly recommend C&K to anyone looking to build a career in transportation!
If you would like to learn more about working with C&K Trucking as an owner-operator or in operations, visit our careers page for more information.