All posts by Marion Donahue

About Marion Donahue

Biographical Info Here

Columbian Donates Food to Children in Need

Have you heard of the organization Hand2Hand yet? This organization is doing amazing things for children in our community. Hand2Hand is a nonprofit founded in West Michigan that delivers hope to hungry children by mobilizing communities to provide nutritious food over the weekend to kids.

We have been looking for opportunities to give back to our community this quarter. So after being referred to this amazing organization, Columbian held a Hand2Hand food drive at our corporate location in Grandville, Michigan.

Other local companies participated in our food drive, such as Action Packaging, Bosch Killman VanderWal PC, and Williamson Employment Services. With the combined effort from Columbian and other local companies, Columbian was able to donate thousands of individual food items to the organization. The items collected will supplement food that goes home with children over the weekend provided by hand2hand partners.

“Being food logistics experts, this cause really stood out to us.” said Julie Oosterink, Payroll & Benefits Specialist / Coordinator of this community event, Columbian Logistics Network. “Columbian employees enjoy giving back, especially to the local community. It is important to employees that we are good members of the community and that we share our time and treasure with others.”

The food that we collected for Hand2Hand will be used at their H.O.P.E. Gathering Event in Caledonia. If you would like to attend this event, please RSVP here.

Who should we help next? Email Marketing Coordinator, Marion Donahue, with any recommendations:

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Don’t Forget to Thank a Truck Driver This Week

Every day, millions of Americans get behind the wheel and head out on the highways. Some of them are off to the store, some to school or work and some very special drivers are on the highway for work.

There are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in America. These hard-working professionals deliver America’s food, fuel, medicine, clothing – every item in your home or office – was delivered by a truck.

Next week – September 10-16 – is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. It is a time for us to honor the professionalism and sacrifice of the men and women on whom we depend for so much.

These drivers delivered nearly 10 billion tons of freight last year, that’s about 70% of all the freight moved in the U.S. Eighty percent of communities – cities and towns like Grand Rapids – receive all their goods via truck.

The trucking industry is the backbone of our economy, and our professional drivers are our industry’s heart. They are committed to safely delivering all the things that make our collective quality of life possible. Their commitment to safety is apparent in the consistent improvements in highway safety we have seen over the past decade.

Next week, when you head to the store and see the variety of products that are available on the shelves, think about the professional drivers that got them there. When you’re in your home or office, look around and realize all those items were at some point in the back of a truck before they got where they are.

When you’re out to dinner, think about the meal you’re about to eat and how the ingredients were very recently delivered by truck.

During this National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, take a moment to be thankful for the efforts of America’s truck drivers and recognize that without them, your table, your closet, and the store would all be empty.

Our trucks, and truck drivers, truly do move America forward.

Intern Spotlight | Aaron & Elizabeth

This summer, we had the pleasure of hiring Aaron Schreck (Intern at GRDC) and Elizabeth Kulich (Shuttle Switch Intern) as full-time interns. Both interns are from Central Michigan University and in the Logistics Management and Marketing program. Read further to get to know each intern a little bit more!

What year are you at CMU?

Aaron: “I am a senior at Central Michigan University, double majoring in marketing and logistics. I plan on graduating in May 2018.”

Elizabeth: “In the fall, I will be starting my Junior year.”

Where is your hometown?

Aaron: “Grand Rapids, MI”

Elizabeth: “Comstock Park, MI”

What have you learned from your internship? 

Aaron: “I have already learned so much from my time with Columbian – but most importantly I’ve learned how to effectively communicate with people. Communication is the key to success; whether it is communicating with the hilo drivers, truck drivers or even the administrative personnel, you need to be able to communicate effectively. I’ve also learned how important timing is in the logistics world. Whether it’s the truck driver making sure s/he is on time to his pick-up or the hilo driver loading the truck for an outbound shipment, everything in the warehouse revolves around timing.”

“I have learned that data is everything, especially when dealing with customers. When you pull and interpret the data for the customer, it helps both the customer and Columbian with the service they are providing. From there, the two teams can develop solutions to the problem from the root causes identified in the data.”

Has your perspective of the supply chain and warehousing changed since you have started your internship at Columbian? If so, how?

Aaron: “My perspective on supply chain and logistics has changed considerably since interning with Columbian. When learning about the supply chain from a classroom perspective it is difficult to understand the role that is taken on by a third party provider. At Columbian, the role taken on is expanded because of their excellent customer service. I’m told we don’t necessarily offer the lowest warehousing prices, but what we do offer is the best customer service around. Customer service is key in the third-party logistics industry because customers need to be able to depend on the company they choose. With Columbian Logistics, I believe that they can.”

Elizabeth: “I have always heard that supply chain “never sleeps.” After spending a month and a half at Columbian, I have seen this first hand. I constantly see the allocation of drivers diversifying, my supervisors working well over the amount of time they are “supposed” to work, and work constantly appearing and disappearing in our IT systems. Now that I have seen it first hand, I believe everything everyone has said. The pace is something I can thrive on.”

Can you list anything that they don’t teach you in college that you learned in the field?

Aaron: “I wish that colleges taught courses that focused more on the warehousing and space utilization side of logistics. Warehousing is becoming the standard for companies as they shift towards out-of-house warehousing and transportation. I think that a warehousing course would be beneficial to a significant number of students and would help them gain some perspective on what working in a warehouse consists of.”

: “A lot of things…but hard to put my finger on.”

What is a name of a class you wish they taught in college? 

Elizabeth: “Politics in the Workplace lol”

What’s your day-to-day role as an intern at CLN?

Aaron: “My day-to-day role at Columbian is always changing. I have been granted the opportunity to work with many different people, in many different areas of the company. I have worked with people such as; Tina Sutherland in an administrative support and transportation role, Brant Weaver in a warehouse management role, Alan Haynes in a continuous improvement role, and I have even been able to be a member of the discussion when it comes to bigger decisions within the company with Richard Schultz. Each of these opportunities has helped me gain a better understanding of the company, and have helped me to find out what I am truly passionate about. I feel that Columbian does an excellent job of allowing interns to work in many different positions within the warehousing industry, which helps them to find what fits them best. I would strongly recommend interning with Columbian Logistics to anyone interested in being employed by a 3PL company.”

: “I started at 36th Street Grand Rapids Distribution Center, but have since moved to Shuttle/Switch in Transportation. I have had several projects here.
First, I started looking at several procedures for Columbian and customers to reduce exposure and risk.
Second, stemming from that project, I reorganized the Shuttle/Switch Driver Manual in order to eliminate unnecessary information and create a manual that could be used as a step-by-step guide through a driver’s day. I also helped in creating a separate driver manual for Short Haul.
Thirdly, I analyzed data on service calls looking to allocate a dedicated service team member of Russ’ Steamer Service for a certain number of hours each week.
Fourth, I have been analyzing data for customers. This data will help Columbian allocate drivers based on busy days, times, and changing shift times to accommodate these things. Along with analyzing the data for customers, I have created a visual driver schedule.”

How did you hear about interning at CLN?

Aaron: “I heard about Columbian Logistics through a couple of business associations that I am member of at Central Michigan University. I joined the Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA) last August, and then was asked to interview for a position in the Logistics Management Council (LMC) in January. As a member of these associations, I was granted the opportunity to be a part of networking nights. At the networking nights, I met Jim Gadziemski, who told me about the company and really caught my interest.”

: “When I first heard about Columbian, I was researching companies that were going to be at our Supply Chain Management Association’s Networking Night. As I was talking to recruiters from different companies, I was introduced to Jim Gadziemski. From there, I was connected and offered an interview a month or so later.”

What is your dream job?

Aaron: “I have always been extremely passionate about leading. I have been a leader throughout my entire life. I was a captain of all my sports teams, managed at the West Michigan Whitecaps from a young age and have taken the lead on business projects throughout school. Since I have had success in these leadership roles, I would love to start off in a management or supervision role with whichever company I end up working for after college.”

: “I’m not so sure of a dream job, but I would love to live and work in Chicago some day!”


Columbian Logistics Network Educates Michigan Transportation Planning Association

Columbian hosted Michigan Transportation Planning Association (MTPA) Conference attendees for a tour of our warehouse facility at 900 Hall Street Southwest. Attendees included employees from Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), members of the Grand Valley Metro Council, municipal planners and engineers, consultants, elected officials, and staff from other similar metropolitan planning organizations throughout Michigan. Grand Valley Metro Council was the lead agency of the MTPA conference this year.

The tour was one session of the conference’s Transportation Planning track. Tour attendees gathered information on various aspects of freight transportation (specifically truck and rail), warehousing, and how Columbian operates. The MTPA Conference has an overall education component related to transportation planning.

Dennis Kent, region transportation planner at MDOT, said “We anticipate the participants will have a better understanding of the logistics process in general, and this is an opportunity to highlight a locally based logistics company.”

The relationship between Columbian and MDOT dates back approximately 10 years ago. Staff members from MDOT and The Right Place worked with John Zevalkink, CEO at Columbian Logistics Network, to secure a loan through Michigan Rail Loan Assistance Program to fund repairs to the Plaster Creek Bridge on the CSX rail spur which serves Columbian. This partnership allowed Columbian to re-establish rail service into the Hall Street facility.

Kent said, “This tour will help transportation planning professionals to better understand the logistics industry and the issues affecting it locally and statewide.  This partnership with Columbian, MDOT and the MTPA should lead to a better understanding of how public investments in the transportation system impact private sector operations.  We appreciate Columbian allowing us access to their business and facilities as part of the MTPA conference in Grand Rapids.”