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Employee Spotlight: Wes Penny

Operations may be the backbone of Airways, but without technology, the spine would have no nervous system. Wes Penny has been an integral part of the Airways IT department for many years.  Here’s our interview with him:

AF:  You started with Airways as a full time IT programming engineer on August 30th of 2012, but your history with Airways began many years prior.  Can you spend a little time explaining how you came to Airways initially, and how your position has evolved over time?
WP: I began my relationship with Airways in May of 2003 when I decided to start my own computer consulting and services business. I purchased the business from Johnice Cross who had been consulting with Airways for several years. When I began, I expected to be working with Airways for several hours a week. However, over the next 9 years, my time and interest in Airways grew. Then I decided to approach Denny about coming on full time and I’m glad I did!
 
AF: We’re glad you did too!  Now what about prior to your computer business?  What interested you in systems technology initially, where did you receive your education, and what course of study qualified you for the field?
WP: My interest in technology began with my dad. He worked for IBM as a hardware technician beginning in the mid 1960’s. He started in Little Rock and then was transferred to Pine Bluff, which is where I grew up. Eventually he opened his own business where I worked part time for him. After graduating high school, I decided that since my dad was “hardware”, I would be “software”.

I studied programming at Arkansas College of Technology, in Little Rock, where I received an Associates Degree in Applied Sciences. I was then hired by Business Service Corp of Pine Bluff and worked there until 1999. After that, I moved to northwest Arkansas to work for George’s Inc. (chicken not lounge). After several years with George’s, I got the bug to be on my own. And that’s when the opportunity to start my own business came about.

 
AF: Your contribution to maintaining and upgrading the custom programs that keeps the Airways operations system running can’t be understated.  Tell us a little more about your daily work at Airways.

WP: My job includes creating or modifying apps as needed, helping users and customers with various questions or problems. The biggest asset I believe, besides knowing the code, is listening to the users and customers.

 
AF: A good point.  In every aspect a key strength of Airways has always been the willingness to listen and adapt quickly. And of course the computer systems play an essential role in this. So when you’re not coding or listening, what is a pass-time or hobby that you enjoy in your leisure time?
WP: Most of my off time is spent with my family, be it playing basketball, ping pong, pool, watching NASCAR, or working on projects around the house. Also, I collect stamps, jigsaw puzzles, NASCAR diecast, and model trains.
 
AF: Interesting collectibles.  What about the family?  Your wife Vicki is a talented writer and frequents the NPR radio cast “Tales from the South” with her humorous stories.  And you have two boys living at home, right?  What are their ages?  Do they have big plans after high school? 
WP: My wife, Vicki, and I will have been married 30 years next January. She is quite a story teller! She has appeared on the NPR radio show “Tales from the South” 8 times with quite a variety of “tales”. Most of her appearances are on Youtube. She also appears occasionally on another locally produced radio show called “The Everything You Need To Know Radio Show” that is on KUAF 91.3 (local NPR station). Before having children, she was a band director at a couple of schools in southern Arkansas. I was once asked by one of the band parents “Why did you marry Mrs. Penny?”. I replied, “For the challenge!”. 

I have 2 sons. We chose to home school them. William, 18, has finished his high schooling and is beginning at NWACC in a few weeks. His interests are varied but he is focusing on theater and video. He works part time with the Walton Arts Center and Wal-Mart AMP. He has worked various load-ins, load-outs, or as a stage hand. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Weston, 13, is at the 8th grade level of schooling and is working on his 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He enjoys science, reading, and video games. His plan for the future is to sell exotic cars!

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Employee Spotlight: Zack Osburn

This week we are interviewing one of Airways’ more recent hires. Zack Osburn has grown up around Airways since childhood – his mother being Patty Osburn the Trade Fairs Manager for International business who has been with Airways since 2006.  Zack joined Airways on February 18th, 2016.

Here is our interview with Zack Osburn:
 
AF:  So Zack, you have been with Airways for a relatively short period of time. What brought you to decide Airways was the right place for you?
ZO: I have been to many Airways gatherings growing up, and have always been impressed with the family-like atmosphere Airways provides to the employees.
 
AF: Since your start with the company, you have been gaining valuable operations experience on the night shift. Do you have your eye on working in any particular area of the company, should the opportunity arise later on?
ZO: I enjoy working on the night shift. Our night crew gets the opportunity to work with every department in operations, therefore we are learning new things every day. If the opportunity were to arise to move to a particular area of the company, Domestic Product would be my preferred department.
 
AF: You’re right, and I don’t think anyone would argue the fact that the night shift makes or breaks Airways from an operational standpoint since most of the operations staff started out on nights. Now what about your life outside Airways?  Can you give us a quick run down of what Zack’s life is about when you’re not at work?

ZO: I recently got married so when I am not at work I spend a lot of time with my wife. I enjoy being outdoors, whether it be doing yard work, hunting, fishing or riding bikes.

 
AF: Congratulations on the marriage!  Riding bikes…motorized or the kind you pedal?
ZO: Thanks, I appreciate it! A bicycle that you pedal.
 
AF: So do you ride competitively, or just for recreation?  Road bikes or off road mountain biking? 
ZO: Just for recreation, I have actually just started riding road bicycles but I’m working my way up – looking forward to mountain biking in the future.
 
AF: What about hunting and fishing?  Any fish stories or hunting adventures you’d care to share? 
ZO: I have been on countless hunting and fishing trips with friends and family growing up. Deer hunting is actually my favorite. In 2012 I got an 11 point in Huntsville, Ar. Hopefully I will be able to surpass my own record this year.
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Employee Spotlight: Albert Kirk

At Airways, one of the things that defines us as a group is our collective desire to help – help our customers achieve their shipping goals, help our vendors to maintain vibrancy in their businesses as they help us operationally, and help our sales agents in providing all of the services essential to their clients – thus making the wheels of the company turn for us all.
 
As alike as we are in our collective business goals at Airways, we are proud of the diversity of the individuals who make up our company. From so many backgrounds and outside interests, the organization is stronger because of it.
 

 
Recently, we sat down with Albert Kirk – another of our Domestic Operations Managers who has been with the company since January 16, 2006. Here is our interview:
 
AF:  You have been in operations for a long time. Give us a rundown of your time here so far.
AK: I started on night operations, and was there for 1 year before moving to days in January of 2007 where I have been for the last 10 years. As a domestic operator, the job is fast paced most days – quoting shipments, booking orders, and providing customer service to the agents and customers that make Airways what it is. There isn’t a dull day. Each shipment requires attention from the time it’s booked to the time it’s invoiced.
 
AF: I know you were born and raised in Arkansas but now reside in Oklahoma.  Can you share what circumstances took you across the border?
AK: I moved to Oklahoma in 2009 after I got married. My wife, Tashina grew up in Colcord, OK and didn’t have interest in moving to Arkansas. We bought a house close to Siloam Springs because it wouldn’t cause me to drive any further (to work) than where I lived in Arkansas. We have now built a new house in Colcord to be more comfortable with the 4 kids.
 
AF: Wow, 4 kids!  Boys and girls?  What are their ages?  Is the house still under construction, or have you already moved in?

AK: We have 2 boys and twin girls. Logan is 7, Eli is 5, and Kaylynn and Rylee are 3. We completed construction on our house in December 2016 and moved in 2 weeks before Christmas.

 
AF: I know you’re into gardening.  How big is your garden and what crops do you grow?  Are there any other farming projects (livestock, etc.) that you do?
AK: I do enjoy gardening. It’s a hobby that I hope one day my kids will appreciate and grow to love as much as I do. This is a first-year garden, and is approximately 25’x60′, I plant the basics – squash, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, corn, onions, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I am trying my luck with brussels sprouts this year. At this time, I am not involved with many farming projects. From time to time I will help my Father in law with his beef cattle. I am hoping by this fall we will have our fence fixed and able to get a few cattle of our own to raise; primarily for beef, but we are also discussing getting a milk cow for fresh milk. I enjoy farming and would one day like to transition into it has a full-time profession.
 
AF: So farming’s on the bucket list, that’s cool.  What else is on your someday dream list?  Any travel, vacations or other activities that spring to mind?
AK: I am a pretty simple guy. I like to stay at home most of the time. I’m not a big traveler. No trips are planned in the immediate future. I enjoy woodworking. I have repaired and restored cedar chests, the oldest of which was built in 1951 by my wife’s grandfather when he was a Junior in high school. I typically mill my own lumber for my projects. I have built custom cedar furniture for a few family friends. I hope that this fall I will be able to get back into doing that.
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Chihuly Exhibit Opens at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: Airways Freight Provides Transport for the Delicate Glass Art

Dale Chihuly, a world renowned glass sculptor from Tacoma Washington brings his indoor/outdoor exhibit to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Using glass as a medium in many varying forms, the artist has created iconic works dating to the early ’70’s, and continues creating contemporary pieces today, both of which are on display at Crystal Bridges from June 3 throughout the summer.
In contributing to the exhibition, Airways Freight was honored to provide transport and logistics services from Tacoma to Bentonville.  The project required five dedicated 53 foot transport trucks with lift gates and full logistics to secure the delicate art for it’s ride to the museum. Once on-site, Airways personnel were present to supervise the off-load into three 40 foot containers, which Airways arranged to have shuttled on-site for the storage and safe keeping of the artwork. Weather conditions being an added challenge on the delivery, there was no margin for error, and we are pleased to report that everything arrived in perfect condition.

For additional information about the exhibit, along with photos of the fragile art Airways transported, visit the Chihuly Exhibition page on the Crystal Bridges website http://crystalbridges.org/exhibitions/chihuly/.

*pictured above along with the artist, Dale Chihuly (center). and his wife Leslie, is Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges Chairwoman of the Board, and CB Executive Director Rod Bigelow. Joining them for the opening reception were several Airways execs including Michael Beckers and his wife Tracy, Ken Center and his wife Rebecca and Dale and Prudy Caudle.
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ExhibitorLIVE Is A Wrap

The ExhibitorLIVE show concluded it’s 29th installment in Las Vegas as the Trade Show Industry’s leading event, and once again, Airways was there to show our support to the industry. The event not only represents an opportunity to showcase Airways’ services to the ever-growing and changing professionals in our industry, but also to meet our friends and customers both new and old who stop by to visit with us and thank Airways for the partnerships that move us all to greater things.
 
It is truly a privilege to work in this dynamic and challenging industry, and as we grow, we want always to be regarded as the best in the business.
 
 
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CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 is in the Books

Thanks to the hard work of dozens of people both on-site (pictured above) and at Airways headquarters, as well as on behalf of our overseas partners, the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 show in Las Vegas was an enormous success.
 
The range of shipments at CONEXPO varies in size, shape and weight more than any other show, and great care must be taken to ensure that the planning and implementation methods span from the earliest stages of pre-show consulting through the inbound logistics and finally the post show breakdown and return.
 
 
As the largest show Airways handles as the official freight carrier, the pressure to perform is tremendous, but the pride in finishing a job well done is more than equal.  We look forward to the next opportunity.
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Airways Official Carrier for CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017

Conexpo
CONEXPO-CON/AGG is back in Las Vegas this week for what’s described on the official show website as “Where every major construction industry is represented amongst 2,500+ exhibitors over 2,500,000 square feet.”  This is indisputably one of the largest trade shows in the world, and Airways was again selected as the Official Carrier for the show.

The show floor extends beyond the confines of several of Las Vegas’ enormous convention centers and into the parking areas where mega-machines and cranes tower above the landscape and hundreds of thousands of visitors crowd the aisles. Hundreds of oversized flatbed and conventional dry van loads are required to piece these structures into place, creating a virtual city within a city.

For Airways, this represents an ideal opportunity to showcase the full scope of our services, from ocean moves, rigging, multi-axle escorted and permitted loads, heavy air cargo, trans-loading, customs work and everything in between. Without a doubt, if Airways can handle the logistics for an event the size of CONEXPO-CON/AGG, it is hard to imagine a trade show that we wouldn’t feel confident handling. If you are considering a sales visit to a show producer, you can feel confident that Airways can support your efforts in virtually any market or venue throughout the United States and the world.
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Memorabilia Transported by Airways to Overseas sites commemorating U.S. Servicemen’s contribution during WWI

Memorabilia Transported by Airways to Overseas sites commemorating U.S. Servicemen’s contribution during WWI

Meuse

Airways received some kudos recently from the Executive Officer – Overseas Operations of a commission responsible for United States battlefield monuments abroad.  Airways provided the shipping, logistics coordination and final delivery of memorabilia, AV equipment and displays to two separate historically significant battlefield sites in Europe – one at the American Cemeteries in Meuse Argonne, France, and the other at Flanders, Belgium.
The project required coordination with the US Embassy in Paris to arrange customs clearance through a transit customs bond.  After clearance, the first stage was accomplished with delivery in France. Meanwhile the remainder of the shipment was delayed for a few days while awaiting site preparation to proceed in Belgium, but was completed successfully.

Flanders

Afterwards, Airways was pleased to receive the following message, stating “Thanks in no small part to your support and efforts, millions will have an enhanced experience and leave with a better understanding of American courage and sacrifice at (these) honored places. We could not have completed these missions without your support and dedication.”
And Airways could not have accomplished our mission, had it not been for the superior service we received from our partners in Antwerp, our agent Manuport and their representative Annemie Quirynen.  Also, sincere thanks goes to our US agent Dave Matthews who acquired the opportunity, Michael Beckers who supervised the project, and Jerome Casey who handled the operations from our corporate headquarters.
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Frank Eugene Watson III: A Tribute From Your Friends

It is with heavy hearts that we report the loss of a man we have had the privilege to know and love for nearly three decades – a man that could make you cough up your socks laughing at his endless stream of jokes while standing in awe of his charisma and fearlessness. Frank Watson is a name and personality known and admired by thousands across the United States and the world.  While his life-long occupation was transporting goods of every description for customers large and small, one never lost the sense that his true business was people. The Trade Show industry gave him a vehicle to move amongst people from every nationality, race and creed, which may be why he loved it so much. We never failed to observe his uncanny ability to transpose his southern soul and easy manner into a moment of humor or a genuine sense of well being for people – no matter their culture or class standing – when he walked into a room. We wish you smooth flights as you go on without us, but we will miss you Frank Watson III.

 

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Employee Spotlight: Josh Brumley

This week before Christmas, we are spotlighting one of our unsung heroes, Josh Brumley.  If you happen to be in procurement for a nuclear power plant located almost anywhere within the continental United States, Josh has probably assisted in pulling off some logistics miracles for you at some point. Keeping up with the demands as a part of the Airways Utilities Division headed up by Devin Scroggins is not for the faint of heart.

 

Josh is a relative beginner with Airways, having completed 3 years in September and heading into his 4th year with the company, but after only a year working in night operations, Josh was recruited by the Utilities Division – primarily because of his excellent work ethic and eagerness to learn.
Says Scroggins, “Josh has quickly become an integral part of the Utilities Division, and we are happy to have him as a part of our team.”  High praise from the Director that manages some of the most highly expedited and demanding shipments handled by the company.  The feeling is mutual too; Josh says one of his favorite things about his job includes the people he works with.
Logistics is nothing new to Josh.  Prior to Airways, he was coaching elite baseball teams in Dallas, TX – a total of 5 to be exact – one 8 year-old team, two 12-13 and one 15-year-old team. In addition, there was a 16-18 year-old team – the showcase team – which along with the others – traveled all over the U.S. playing in Select Tournaments.  Josh also provided private baseball lessons to youngsters while on the road. Having made baseball his life for a number of years, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say, Josh Brumley is “a total baseball guy” when he’s not doing his now favorite thing –  hanging out with his wife Tori, and his new baby girl, Chandler.
Nowadays, when Josh isn’t busy “hitting one out of the park” for Airways on a shipment for a power plant, he aspires at some point to “be the old guy in the chair falling asleep to baseball.”  Well earned Josh!
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