Of everything that NTB does and is most proud of, staff is the top of the list. From our experienced and dedicated drivers, to our caring management members, we’ve hit the jackpot for team members. When people ask how we’ve all come to be part of the NTB family, everyone has a different story. What’s interesting is that few of us ever set out to become leaders for a regional company with the success of NTB. Most of us started at the bottom of the ladder, doing our best to support our families and be proud of our work.
Jerry Warnemuende is the Vice President of Resource Management at NTB. He has been a member of the staff for twenty years this April. Like many of the leaders at NTB, Jerry has held many positions at the company, and began his career in the transportation industry while he was still a student.
Jerry started off working in landscaping part-time while in school, and he drove a truck and trailer for the landscaper. In college, Jerry worked for Roadway Express part-time on their docks while he studied at Cornerstone University. He did some local driving too, before leaving to work in his chosen field of Religious Education. Soon, Jerry had the opportunity to get his doctorate, so he went back to work for Roadway Express while earning his doctorate.
As the early 1980s approached, a big recession hit West Michigan and Jerry was laid off from his job. For the first time, he began driving over-the-road and recalls that it was “a really different experience.” Jerry did that for two years before he took a management position with that company. Unfortunately, they didn’t weather the recession, and eventually went out of business. Jerry left to work at Georgia Pacific, and even moved from the terminal in Portage, MI out to Monroe, OH.
Though Jerry was happy to have a good job, he and his wife never really settled in Monroe. They wanted to move back to Michigan, so Jerry began commuting to Ohio for his job. He kept that up for over six years while working as a Trucking Services Coordinator. Jerry and his team reviewed driver profiles, traveled, and hired. After some time, he moved down to Atlanta, GA. Jerry called that, “A bridge too far,” and once again returned to West Michigan.
This time he worked for a little company in Kalamazoo, but Jerry was still on the lookout for something that would really fit his broad skills and experience in the trucking industry. “I know a lot about trucking,” he laughs. “Basically, for NTB, I answered an ad. I had never heard of them.” He had worked for a time stocking at Meijer, and had seen NTB trucks, but didn’t know much other than that. His first interview was enlightening and left him eager to start work with NTB. He remembers, "After my first interview, I went home and said If I don't get that job, I’m going to be really disappointed. It's just a different company." Jerry got the job.
After working as Director of HR, he moved to Safety Loss Prevention, then did some recruiting, and corporate training before entering his role as VP of Resource Management.
“I’ve never fallen out of love with this company. The people, the culture—it’s all what I like.” Jerry has grown with NTB, and even found a way to use his ministry skills while at work. “We don’t push. People know what our culture is and that we’re a faith-based company,” and Jerry is proud that they offer services to staff beyond the usual areas, and promote spiritual health and wellness. NTB hired a chaplain, Ed McCarrick, to help care for drivers who wanted spiritual help, or just someone to talk to.
Having an experienced leadership team that cares about drivers, offering chaplain services, and being open about the faith-based values of the company—they create a unique and welcoming culture at NTB. “I think the culture gives people a sense of security. I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t know another company that has an Ed McCarrick. He’s done more unknowingly for driver retention than he’ll ever know.”
Jerry stresses that they don’t force any sort of religious involvement on the staff. “If people aren’t interested, that’s okay. We’re here if you need us.” He even pointed out that people often say they don’t need anything and don’t want help, but after being in the company for a while, they come to enjoy the option of speaking to Ed, even if they don’t use it. “Sometimes people just need advice. And it’s not just Ed, although he’s a key factor. I think all of us at some point have done things to help drivers if they’re having a hard time with something.”
With as many years of experience in transportation as Jerry and the rest of the team have, there’s no problem they can’t solve. And having such varied experience, including truck driving, helps them to understand what it’s like to be part of their biggest resource—the NTB family.