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Happy Thanksgiving!

With the Holidays quickly approaching and Thanksgiving knocking on our front door, we would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to our Staff, Agents, Customers and Vendors. Without your service and dedication, there would not be an Airways Freight. That being said, Thanksgiving is a time for traditions, but did you ever wonder where some of those traditions started? Like where the term “Black Friday” came from? Or why we break the wishbone? Here are some fun facts from Babbel and Country Living Magazine.

1) The Original Feast
While most agree that the first Thanksgiving took place in Massachusetts in 1621, did you know that some people believe the town of San Elizario, Texas near El Paso hosted the first feast? In 1598, Spaniard Juan de Onate and 500 members of his crew crossed the Chihuahuan Desert and celebrated their survival with a feast of fish when they got to Texas.

2) The Food
While turkeys are local to the area where the pilgrims landed, the Wampanoag Indians would have been more likely to bring lobsters along with deer meat, clams and eels instead of the first feast. The pilgrims’ English preferences mean that they would’ve opted for duck and goose over turkey as well. In fact, turkey didn’t become a holiday staple until the 19th century when it was recognized as a cheap source of protein that could feed a large crowd.

3) The Side Dishes
While traditional sides like sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce seem like they could have been at the first Thanksgiving, they actually weren’t introduced to until about 50 years later when cranberry sauce was finally invented, and sweet potatoes finally made their way to America.

4) The Leftovers
Did you know the first-ever TV dinner came from Thanksgiving leftovers? In 1953 a worker at Swanson ordered too many frozen turkeys (260 tons too many to be exact) so a company salesman named Jerry Thomas had the idea to create a packaged dinner on aluminum trays. After an assembly line of women scooped turkey, corn-bread dressing, peas, and sweet potatoes onto the trays, the TV dinner was born!

5) The Holiday
We bet you didn’t know that the woman who wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” is also the person responsible for making Thanksgiving an official holiday. After petitioning the government for 17 years, writer Sarah Josepha Hale finally convinced Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to make it a national holiday that took place every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

6) The Date
However, Thanksgiving hasn’t always taken place on the fourth Thursday in November. In 1939, FDR moved the holiday up one week to help boost retail sales during the Depression. So many people complained that it was eventually moved back to the original date in 1941. The Thanksgivings between those years are referred to as “Franksgivings” still today.

7) The Wishbone
Breaking wishbones to grant secret wishes isn’t an American original. The tradition was inherited from the British, who got it from the Romans, who adopted it from the Etruscans who believed that birds had oracle powers. When birds died they would keep the wishbone and stroke it as they made wishes, which isn’t too far off from the modern practice.

8) The Parade
Every year millions of Americans tune in to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but did you know that the parade has European origins? In 1924, the store’s immigrant employees decided to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season like they would have in their European homelands-with a parade with knights, jugglers and clowns. The balloons weren’t introduced until 1927.

9) The Football
Millions of Americans tune in to watch football on Thanksgiving every year and it all started because the owner of the Detroit Lions wanted to promote the game in his baseball-obsessed city and convinced NBC to broadcast the game. Ever since that first NFL broadcast in 1934, the Lions have played on every Thanksgiving except during WW2. The Dallas Cowboys joined in on this NFL tradition in the 60s and America has had its post-dinner plans figured out ever since.

10) The Friday After Thanksgiving
Ironically the name “Black Friday” was supposed to keep people from not going shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Even though Black Friday is now one of the biggest shopping days of the year, in 1966 the Philadelphia Police Department started referring to the day of shopping deals as Black Friday in hopes that it would deter people from adding to the traffic and commotion before the Army-Navy football game that same weekend.

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Employee Spotlight – Brett Parker

Something you would never expect about Brett Parker, is that he was a former Correctional Officer at a maximum-security prison in Huntsville, Texas and that as a rookie, he had to watch and count the inmates on death row. His integrity and fortitude are characteristics he drew from his experience and have been his motivation since.

Hired in January of 1994, Brett had previously been working as a customer service representative at a local car rental company. When he heard about a position opening from his brother-in-law, who was working for Airways at the time, he applied and was hired to work in the Trade Show Division. He heard great things about working for a “new and up-coming” company and his experience in customer service, allowed him to be an excellent candidate for the job. Twenty-three years later, he still loves the camaraderie of his fellow co-workers and the family atmosphere that goes along. Brett is currently working as a Special Accounts Manager and recognizes the value of “always being put in a position to succeed.”. He is appreciative of the great benefits he has encountered while working for Airways, as well as the notable college scholarship program that has helped with his son Jack’s education.

Brett Parker was born and raised in Fayetteville, AR. He met his wife Julie and has been married for twenty-six years. Together they have raised a son who is now a senior at the University of Arkansas.

When not at work, Brett takes great pride in gardening and landscaping. He also loves to play golf, especially with his son Jack. One of his favorite past-times is reading mystery novels, with Harlan Coben being his author of choice. Brett loves most genres of music, and as a lifelong Razorback fan, he loves watching the Hogs play.

Dependable, trustworthy and hardworking, Brett has always lived his life with civility and decorum and prides himself on his marriage along with raising his son. He is respected among his friends and co-workers, and has started preparing for his retirement. (hopefully not too soon).

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Employee Spotlight – Craig Luttrell

For the past 23 years, Craig Luttrell has been a fundamental asset to Airways Freight. Starting out in the trade show department, he transitioned to the position he is in today, Manager of the Truckload Division. His industrious and level-headed work ethic, has earned him that title.

After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Craig began his career working for JB Hunt. With his Father being close friends with the Caudle family most of Craig’s life, he spoke about how much he admired the family, and that Airways would be a great company to work for. Having grown up so close to Airways, and his family having several ties within the company, Craig was encouraged to apply.

Born and raised in Northwest Arkansas, Craig was one of three boys. He spent most of his childhood on motorcycles and go-carting. His work ethic was learned at a young age by helping his father build houses during the summer. Both of Craig’s parents have been very influential in his life. They taught him the value of hard work, and the fulfillment that comes from accomplishing your goals. Through skill, perseverance and elbow grease, Craig and his family have never lived in a home that they did not build themselves.

Craig married his wife Mandy in the Spring of 2005 in Niagara Falls, NY with the picturesque water falls in the background of the ceremony. The minister that performed the service was featured on the Travel Channel, because he was well known for marrying couples by the falls. A year or two later, Craig and his wife spotted him on a TV special and said “Hey, that’s our guy”!

Having 10-year-old twin girls, Belle and Evey, life is never ordinary or monotonous. With both of his daughters involved in sports, there is always a volleyball or basketball game to attend. One of his daughters is convinced that football is in her future. As a family, they spend a lot of quality time outdoors; camping, biking and exploring Northwest Arkansas. When Craig is not spending time with his wife and daughters, he likes to go to the gym and de-stress.

In addition to Craig’s work ethic and level headedness, Craig has a fantastic sense of humor. Something his fellow employees love about him. His wit and character are only a minuscule part of what makes working with Craig so delightful. He is mindful, enthusiastic, determined and respectful. He is a commodity in the Truckload division at Airways and it is a pleasure to work with him every day.

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Employee Spotlight – Mandy Wood

Never at a loss for words, Mandy Wood is no stranger to conversation. Which makes her perfect for interacting with our customers and representing Airways Freight at trade shows and special events. Something she takes great pride in doing.

Mandy began working with Airways in September of 2004 after previously working at the Wal-Mart Corporate Offices International Division. Through many conversations with a friend, who was at the time working for Airways, she was told about how family oriented they are, and how much her friend loved working for such a great company that took care of their employees.

Mandy put in her application, was hired and it wasn’t long before her determination and productivity led her to the position she is in today. She now travels all over the country to different trade show locations, and gets to meet exciting people and explore different cities, something she knew she was destined to do.

Mandy was born in Beaufort, South Carolina and spent most of her childhood in Hilton Head. She later moved on to Oklahoma, and now resides in Northwest Arkansas. A lot of her childhood memories were of visiting the coast and spending time on the beach. One of her favorite memories was sneaking out to watch The Beach Boys play. Her love for the ocean and living on the coast has never gone away. It’s no surprise that on her vacation days, she loves to drive down to Gulf Shores, Alabama.

While not vacationing in Gulf Shores, Mandy likes to watch sports and loves watching her son Parker play pee-wee football and baseball. She also loves camping, and spending time with family and friends. Mandy loves to go to the movies and enjoys shopping in different cities around the country. She has a great appreciation for fashion and it’s not out of the ordinary to see her dressed in the latest trends.

Mandy met her husband and fellow co-worker Brock while working side by side at Airways. They married in 2007 and together, they have a son. Working alongside her husband has always been fun and exciting, and has never felt any different. They work very well as a team, and it shows in their day to day interactions.

When asked what her most notable accomplishment is, Mandy, without hesitation, says it was raising her two daughters Jourdynn and Heavenly. How her persistence and determination pushed them to be where they are today and grateful she did not fail as a parent. Jourdynn has given her two beautiful grandchildren and Heavenly has gone on to join the United States Air Force to further her education.

Not only is Mandy great at conversation, she also has a hidden passion for singing. One of her favorite quotes is “Sing not because you can, but because you want to”.

Mandy is dedicated, determined and productive. She has accomplished a lot in a short time, and will accomplish much more in her lifetime.

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Employee Spotlight – Patty Osburn

She lights up a room without saying a word. She’s a bright light that shines, and she brings her positive attitude to work daily. Patty Osburn has been with Airways since May of 2007, and her dedication and optimism has led her to become an integral part of the International Tradeshow Division here at Airways Freight.

Before starting at Airways, Patty worked as a customer service manager at a nearby grocery store, and would drive by the company every day, wondering what it would be like to work for such a beautiful company. After meeting a few different employees that worked for Airways, she was told about how much they truly loved their jobs and coworkers. It wasn’t long before she found herself working right alongside them. The things she likes most is the people she gets to work with and their overall dedication. She admires the level of professionalism that exists in each department, and how they treat each shipment as a top priority, like it was their very own. She considers the customer service at Airways “top notch” and she is very proud to be part of the team.

Patty was born in Georgia but moved to California when she was a child. She spent a lot of time going back and forth between coasts, and visited many states and locations. She settled in Northwest Arkansas and it has become her home.

Patty married her husband Beau almost 26 years ago and together they have 4 children. One daughter, Alexa, and three sons Dillon, Ty and Zack. Most recently, two of her sons married their significant others and added to their beautiful family.

She loves spending free time with her family and considers herself a homebody. When not staying at home, Patty loves to shop, and travel. Some of the most memorable places she has been to are Hong Kong and Switzerland, which she had the opportunity to visit while representing Airways.

One of Patty’s favorite quotes, reflects her character in every way and is present in her professional as well as her personal life.

“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results.” – Anonymous

Patty has most definitely had extraordinary results, she is every bit an asset to Airways, and her endless positivity is inspiring and very much appreciated.

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Employee Spotlight – Brandi Phillips

We’ve all heard her voice at one time or another, she’s the voice on the other end of the phone when you call Airways Freight. Brandi is one of Airways receptionist/PBX Operators.

Always cheerful and willing to help, Brandi Phillips has been with Airways since 1993. She was working in the driver/personnel department for JB Hunt previously, when a friend recommended Airways. She was told to come down after work for an interview, and was hired on the spot. She began working at Airways at the age of 20 and through the years, Brandi has worked there for more than half of her life.

When asked what she likes most about working at Airways, her answer is like most of the other people that work there. “It’s the camaraderie and feeling like you are working with family”. She also loves that it only takes her five minutes to get to work.

Born and raised in Northwest Arkansas, she lost her mother at the age of six, leaving her father to raise her. His strength and perseverance got them through a trying time, and he is easily one of the most influential people in her life.

Brandi settled down in Fayetteville and married her high school sweetheart Brad. Together, they raised a beautiful daughter Britni. Her family members also include a Yorkie named Noah and a Maltese named Moses.

A couple of things you may not know about Brandi, is that she is a rocker at heart! She loves going to concerts and she listens to all types of music. Other things she enjoys to do, are spending time with friends and family, going to the movies, travelling and shopping. She is an avid bargain shopper, and loves to shop at vintage stores, flea markets as well as second-hand stores and she’s always quick to let
you know of a new boutique that’s opened in the area as well.

Brandi considers herself loyal, honest and fun-loving. Everyone else feels the same. She is always quick to assist someone and by the sound in her voice, you can hear her pleasant attitude daily.

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Employee Spotlight: Erik Fortin

When you think of someone dedicated and hardworking, one of the first names you’ll come up with at Airways Freight would be Erik Fortin.

Before joining Airways, Erik was a receiving manager at a local department store. He joined the Airways team in June of 2003. With a soon to be wife, Erik was looking for a company that didn’t have a lot of turn over and valued its employees, a friend recommended Airways. Erik is now a Domestic Division Manager and is labeled one of Airways most dedicated and loyal employees.

Besides getting to talk to people all over the country, Erik’s favorite part about working at Airways is the constant problem solving that goes into handling freight and making sure the shipment gets to where it needs to be, on time.

Erik was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and moved to Elkins when he was 3 years old. He has been in and around Northwest Arkansas ever since. Erik grew up on a farm, and learned early on from his Father, who has been the most influential person in his life, the value of hard work.

When Erik is not working, he loves to go turkey hunting, as well as deer bow-hunting. He has fond memories of taking his little girl Ayla hunting. Their trips mostly consisted of her eating donuts, drinking chocolate milk, and him carrying her around. One of his most cherished memories is taking Ayla on a real turkey hunt at the age of 9. When she had her bird in under 45 minutes, he found out she was a better hunter than he is.

Besides hunting, Erik’s favorite past time is cooking. He loves to come home after a stressful day and cook delicious meals that other people enjoy. He loves to cook BBQ specializing in pulled pork, brisket and chicken with all the sides, coleslaw, potato salad as well as his own BBQ sauces. His favorite dessert to make is Crème Brulee.

Erik’s life highlights are getting married, the birth of his daughter Ayla and his son Mason.

Erik’s reputation at Airways is one of loyalty, trust and dedication. He’s worked hard for his accomplishments and he’s one of the best in the industry.

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Employee Spotlight: Bryan Weingart

Bryan Weingart

Loyal, driven and competitive. Those are three words used to describe Bryan Weingart.
Growing up in Sarasota FL, Bryan’s drive and competitive side was obvious early on. Bryan was always into sports. He excelled in baseball and football, and his competitive side lead him to Olympic weightlifting and Strongman competitions.

Bryan previously served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2009 he was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and was there during Operation Strike of the Sword/Operation Khanjar which was the biggest offensive airlift of the Marines since the Vietnam War. From there Bryan attended the University of South Florida and received a bachelor’s degree. He did his internship at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and accepted a full-time position after he graduated.

After moving to Arkansas, Bryan started his journey with Airways in July of 2015, he began working with the Night Operations team, quickly moving on to be where he is now in the Ocean Imports Division. When asked what attracted him to Airways, he replied “the camaraderie of everyone”.

When not at work, Bryan is currently attending the U of A and working on his Master’s degree. He loves to hang out with his wife and baby girl. He likes watching sports and attending sporting events. Bryan has been to many different locations while serving in the military, since then he has been to Ireland, Switzerland and his latest trip was to China for two weeks this past July.

One of Bryan’s favorite quotes is surprisingly a quote from Teddy Roosevelt. Looking at all his accomplishments, it describes his character very nicely.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

On top of being loyal, driven and competitive, he is very humble. When asked if he had any hidden talents he replied, “I’m still waiting to discover it”. To this day, his top three life highlights are his daughter, getting married and graduating boot camp.

When talking with some of Bryan’s co-workers the consensus is the same. Bryan also has an abundance of other great qualities. He’s very dependable, admirable and responsible, yet doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s a great co-worker to have, sarcasm and all!

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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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