An Interview with Michelle Koertgen, Director of Sales, Midwest & Northeast
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. In our blog, she shares how much things have changed and how the industry looks different for women today.
How did you get your start in the industry?
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 their 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.
Did you work anywhere else before starting at AV Logistics?
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 at these different transportation companies help me to respond well to customers today.
How did you get to AV Logistics?
I was actually hired by C&K Trucking, but in my work, I also interface with AV Logistics’ customers because we are both part of the C&K Holdings family. 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 waited six months for me to join the company legally. I’ve been with C&K Trucking/AV Logistics for seven years now.
What is it like being a woman working in logistics?
It hasn’t always been easy. Thirty years ago, being a woman in transportation 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. At both AV Logistics and C&K Trucking, I work with many female managers, and the entire management team provides a supportive, family-oriented environment for women to advance.
What advice do you have for young women considering a career in logistics?
It’s a “forever” industry like banking and healthcare that will never disappear, so there’s lots of opportunity. But 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 upset drivers and customers and they look to you for solutions!
What do you like best about AV Logistics?
I love the atmosphere and the management, who understand you have a family and personal life. I appreciate that AV Logistics is always looking for growth opportunities and facing the future with new ways to serve customers, like Coreviz. I was also impressed by how they survived the pandemic and seamlessly transitioned to remote working. Also, the tenure of the managers at the company is impressive, which speaks volumes about the working environment in general. I would highly recommend AV Logistics to anyone looking to build a career in logistics!
If you would like to learn more about careers at AV Logistics, visit our career page.