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Meet the Dispatchers at K & J Trucking August 6 2019

Posted by K&J Trucking

Meet our Dispatch Team

The key to a good driving experience is working with a great company with great dispatchers. We recently had a new driver ask us a lot of questions about our dispatch team before he agreed to come on board. We weren't at all annoyed, in fact, we thought he was on to something! Determining your fit with a trucking company is about more than how much they pay per mile, it is about understanding how working with them will impact your daily life. And for better (in our case) or worse, your dispatch team has a lot of impact on your daily life.

We are proud of our dispatchers at K & J and we want to show them off. They have years of wisdom, experience, and education in the industry and they are one of our greatest assets as a company. We sat down with our dispatchers to ask them questions about their experience in the industry, how they got to K & J and what they like and dislike about the job. Keep reading to get to know our team!


P4_websizeMike Bose - Operations Manager

How did you get into trucking?

I was born into a family that owned a trucking company. It was kind of a given that I had to go into the business. As a grade schooler I started in the shop, worked there through high school, then I went to college and came back to the office. I also got my CDL and drove truck for them on the side.

When our family business began to struggle, I thought it was a dispatchers causing it. I ended up working in dispatch, yet the business still struggled. That led me to move the company trucks to a different company, where I again worked in dispatch for a short time, but eventually drove truck full time.

For a time I really enjoyed being out on the road, but then as our family continued to grow it was harder and harder for me to be on the road.

I heard through the grapevine that there was an opening at K & J in dispatch. I called, talked to Don Ihler and got the job. I've now been here 13 years.

About three years ago, the operations manager was talking about retiring and they approached me about taking over for him. I've been in the role on my own for two years now. 

What do you like about our dispatch team?

We care for the drivers and do our best to get the drivers where they want to be, when they want to be there, for whatever reason they want to be there. And we really try to overcome challenges everyday and walk away feeling like we've won the day, or close to it.

Best part about dispatch?

I enjoy making the puzzle pieces fit. I've learned that dispatch is the heart of trucking. That’s why I have felt drawn to stay with it.

Worst part about dispatch?

I don't love dealing with claims, or leaving drivers hanging waiting on us.

What do you like about working at K & J?

Our people, our beliefs, and our dedication.

Tell me about your family.

I am married to my wife Jennifer and we have four kids between the ages of 5 and 15.


20190615_130224Cynthia Pischke

How did you get into trucking?

I grew up in Webster, SD. When I got out of high school in 1982 I moved to Madison, SD and started working for a trucking company there. I started by doing logs and their brokerage division. My supervisor would stand over me and watch me do the logs to see how many I could do a minute.

After awhile I graduated to IT and it was my job to get reports in to everyone. I was there for a few years and then I moved to dispatch and took over the east coast. It was so bad at first that I cried myself to sleep. However, I ended up enjoying dispatch so much I stayed in that position for 15 years. 

My brother-in-law was related to the marketing manager at K & J Trucking and knew that they were looking for a dispatcher. I came to K & J about 17 years ago and started with Chicago, graduated to produce in Arizona, and moved to my current position doing outbound 2-3 years ago.

What is your favorite part about working in dispatch?

Definitely developing good relationships with our drivers. I always say that I don’t have any children, but I have 100 out there on the road!

What do you think makes a good dispatcher?

Being able to see the smile on the other side of the phone. They can tell if you’re happy or not. I try to treat them the way they treat me. I’m a people person and I try to be nice. Listening is important. Drivers need to know they have a friend they can call. Someone to just call and visit with if they need to. I don’t always have that time now.

What is the hardest part about being in dispatch?

I would say meeting all the home time requests. Keeping track of it.

What do you wish people knew about dispatch?

It takes a lot of planning to get them what they want, where they want, and still make them money. I think it takes more planning than many people realize. Teamwork in our department is really important.

What would be the biggest piece of advice you would give to a new dispatcher?

You’ve got to stand up to your word and they have to trust you. You’d better go the extra mile and get it done so they trust you. Drivers have a lot of windshield time and they don’t always have someone to call and talk to at home. You need to keep them happy and take responsibility for any information they entrust to you.

Tell me about your family.

I'm divorced and my 83-year-old mother lives with me. We have a very small family, so my niece Alicia is like a daughter to me. I enjoy spending time with her, her husband, and their boys. 


IMG_1518Cindy Trager

How did you get into trucking?

After high school I went to Iowa State University and joined their college of business. While there, I had to take a variety of classes from each specialty area. I tried transportation logistics and quickly realized that this was enjoyable and something that will always be needed, so I went into it. At that time there weren’t a lot of women in that specialty.

After graduation I started working for a large bussing business at their corporate office in Des Moines. I worked for them for about five years. And then transferred with them to both Minneapolis and Sioux Falls.

After a while it was time for a change and I was connected with K & J Trucking. They were looking for someone to fill in temporarily in brokerage. I eventually moved to dispatch and now I've been at K & J 24 years, and 20 of those have been in my current position.

What is your favorite part about working in dispatch?

One thing I learned about myself is that I like to see things completed every single day. I dislike long term projects, I'm great at short term. So dispatch is perfect for my personality. I really like working with the drivers.

We also have a good time in dispatch. It is stressful at times like anything in life, but you feel a great accomplishment when everything falls into place.

What is your least favorite part about dispatch?

Earning the trust of drivers so that they know we are working in their best interest even on the days when things don't shake out in their favor. Unfortunately we can't make every load perfect for every driver and that is frustrating. 

What do you wish people knew about dispatch?

That we genuinely have driver interests at heart all the time. I think it is easy for drivers to feel like we aren’t trying, but we are! Trust me, we want to make their desires reality, but sometimes we can’t make it fit perfectly. It is fulfilling to me when we can meet what they want.

Tell me about your family.

My husband Kevin drives truck for Sysco and does night shuttles to Lincoln and back. We have lots of nieces and nephews we enjoy!


IMG_5112Don Knowler

How did you get into trucking?

I've been in trucking pretty much my whole life. My stepdad and me hauled cobs and grain starting when I was around 16-years-old. We also peddled watermelons in Iowa. I got a job driving side dumps until I was old enough to go over-the-road. I started over the road in 1982 by attending a local driving school and working for another company.

I was on the road for 10 years with that company and then I moved to working as their driving instructor. Eventually I was promoted to director of driver training and then served as their director of safety.  

Six years ago, I saw in an ad that K & J was looking for a dispatcher and I applied. Dispatching was one of the only things I hadn't done yet in trucking and it was on my bucket list. K & J has been a really good home!

What is your favorite part about working in dispatch?

I like talking to the drivers. That to me is my favorite thing. I have always enjoyed meeting people and talking to them, but this is such a great batch of people here it is fun to talk to them. I also enjoy looking for the loads.

What do you wish people knew about dispatch?

It is a challenge and can be extremely frustrating. It is the worst thing for me to go home at night and know that there is a truck that isn’t under load, or a driver who isn't happy.

What makes you a good dispatcher?

I think I can sit in the drivers seat and know what they are going through. I know what it is like to miss birthdays, anniversaries. I know what it feels like when you’re having a bad day out there. To me the best part of my life was out there on the road. I learned so much. 

Tell us about your family.

I have been married to my wife Cassie for five years. Together we have six kids. We have five girls, one boy, and two grandchildren. All are local. Our youngest son is 18 and our oldest is 29.


kellieKellie Callies

How did you get started in trucking?

My dad was an owner operator my whole life. It was always fun to be a part of the trucking community. I loved going on the truck with him even as a little girl, but since I was underage back then it was illegal so the only time I got to go was in the summer and if he delivered I would have to hide in the sleeper. Usually it was just once in the summer. I always wanted to drive truck when I grew up. 
My dad was leased on to another company in Sioux Falls so I went to work for them in my early 20s and was with them for 8 years. I knew I wanted to stay in trucking, but I was ready to move on to a different company. My best friend worked for the local Kenworth dealer and knew Shelley so she put in a good word for me. They didn’t have a dispatch clerk at the time but Don Ihler decided to take a risk on me and start a new position. I've worked here for 11 years as the dispatch clerk and I love it! 

What is your favorite part of dispatch?

I love people. I love the drivers and get along with them well. I like to help them solve their issues out on the road.

What is your least favorite part about dispatch?

Is it okay to answer nothing? I actually really love my job!

What do you wish people knew about dispatch?

How hard we work to go above and beyond to get everybody where they need to be to keep everybody happy. 

Tell us about your family.

I am married to my high school sweetheart Wyatt. We live just outside of Sioux Falls in Hartford, SD. Together we have three boys, and four grandkids (three boys and a girl). All of our kids live around here which is such a blessing. 

Family2018-2Jenny Kraft

How did you get into trucking?

It all started at a volleyball game eleven years ago! I was playing volleyball with a friend who works for a licensing company. She mentioned that the person doing their fuel taxes was moving and they needed a replacement. I was ready to move on from my job in the student loan company of a large bank, so she put in a good word for me.

While at that employer I worked my way up to licensing and permitting and then moved to another trucking company where I served as their safety director. I even won safety director of the year! I met K & J's safety director Jennifer Raddatz while serving on the safety council together. When I was ready to move on in my career, Jennifer passed my resume on to Shelley and I was hired to work in billing.

One year later I moved to dispatch. I work pretty much exclusively with two of our contracts that have regular daily or weekly loads. It is nice to be able to get to know the customers more and work with our regional drivers.

What is your favorite part about working in dispatch?

I like dispatch because it is busy! The K & J drivers are fun, easy going, and lighthearted, so I can joke with them. I also really enjoy the other dispatchers I get to work with.

What do you wish people knew about dispatch?

It is not all rainbows and sunshine. We work really hard to get drivers what they want, but it is not always easy to do that. It can be hard to roll with the punches sometimes.

Tell us about your family.

I'm married to my husband Jon, we have three kids, our son Cody is 22 and married to Kaylee. They are in the Air Force in security forces in California. Our daughters are Alexis (15) and Isabelle (9). We also have a foster daughter who is a year and a half.

LeeKetchumLee Ketcham

How did you get into trucking?

My father-in-law Don Ihler told me about the opportunity to join the dispatch team. I had done a lot with planning and scheduling at Walmart so it sounded like a good fit. Don has had nothing but great things to say about K & J for many years so I knew it would be a great place to work.

What do you love about dispatch?

I love having a list of trucks and going out to find the perfect load....or as close as I can. I enjoy putting the puzzle together, so to speak.

What do you dislike about dispatch?

I hate getting blamed for a bad load. We spend a lot of time looking for the perfect load but not all of them turn out to be that. Many things have to fall in to place for freight to get moved from here to there and sometimes it just stinks.

What do you wish people knew about working in dispatch?

We really do care about drivers and their needs. We are always looking for the perfect load for top dollar to keep them happy, and it makes us happy to know we succeeded.

Tell me about your family.

I have a wife Juli who does day-care out of our home. We've been married almost 19 years. We have three sons; Riley is 17, Dylan 15, and is Max 4. 


Dan Schipper 

How did you get into trucking?

Well, my grandparents started K & J Trucking forty years ago, my mom is the president, and my dad is the owner of the largest fleet leased onto K & J, so I have definitely grown up in the business. From the time I was young all the way up to my teens I would come up here every Saturday with my dad. Dad would do paperwork and I would ride my bike or 4-wheeler around the lot.
As a kid I went back and forth a lot between wanting to go into trucking or not. But by the time I was about a junior in high school I knew I wanted to be involved in this business. I went to South Dakota State for a year and wanted to see what it was like, but I didn’t like it so I decided to come back to Sioux Falls and attend Southeast Technical Institute for diesel mechanics. 
I’ve worked here since I was 16. I started out washing trucks. When I was in school I wrenched here. I went to school during the day and wrenched at night. After I finished STI I came on as a mechanic. While I like wrenching, I knew it wasn’t for me long term and that is when I move to the office and dispatch.

What do you love about dispatch?

I like the control and the puzzle solving of it all. One of my favorite things is when I can get someone a really good load that meets and exceeds their expectations. 

What do you dislike about dispatch?

I really like quiet. I like being alone, and I like getting up to move not sitting still. Dispatch has required me to grow as a person because I spend time sitting in a room full of people talking all day. 

What do you wish people knew about working in dispatch?

It takes a lot of patience and thinking the best of people. I wish people knew to give us the benefit of the doubt. We aren’t trying to mess with drivers just like they aren’t trying to be late for their delivery. One other thing, as much as drivers hate sitting and not getting paid, we hate it just as much. 

Tell me about your family.

My wife Leslie and have been together since early school and married for almost a year. She works at K & J in licensing and about 100 other things. 


lisasotoLisa Soto - Guymon, OK 

How did you get into trucking?

I started out at Seaboard in Guymon in 1995. I worked on the floor there and gradually worked my way up through different jobs. In the end I ended up in dispatch. I was interested in dispatch because I was learning a lot of the jobs and I wanted to move up.
Then I took some time off to be home with my children and do real estate. I was working at one of the thrift stores in town and a K & J employee from the Guymon office came through there. She said there was an opening in dispatch and it seemed like a great fit! I've been with K & J about six and a half years. I do outbound dispatch going out from Guymon, OK.

What do you love about dispatch?

I like when you get a perfect plan and it comes together!  Because dispatch is so unpredictable this doesn't always happen. I enjoy the challenge of making everything work out alright. 

What do you dislike about dispatch?

It is hard on the rare times that things totally fall apart and you aren’t able to make a request for a driver. We work really hard to make things happen, but sometimes other circumstances come in and we can’t make it work. 

What do you wish people knew about working in dispatch?

Before I came here I stereotyped drivers as one type. I learned we have all types of people. People with all different backgrounds and personalities. 
It is not cut and dry. Sometimes people just think we get drivers loads but there is a lot more that goes into it. There are people that think this is an easy job; some days aren’t too bad, but other days I leave here thinking, "did I lose my mind?!"
I do like the quiet of being in a small office down here in Guymon. It helps me when it is stressful. 

What makes you a good dispatcher?

I treat people the way I would want to be treated. Even when people aren't kind to me I try to work with them and rise above it. I’ve always been the type of person who doesn’t ask someone to do something unless I would be willing to do it myself. 

Would you recommend dispatch as a career?

Yes, but it is not for everybody. There are some people who just aren’t cut out for it. 
It is more than matching a truck and a load, there are other pieces that need to be worked out. You have got to have an open mind and be very flexible. 

Tell me about your family.

I met my husband at Seaboard. He was a shag driver. He works in their shipping department. We have a son, 20, who is in the Air Force, and 15 and 16 year old daughters. 

It is easy to see why we love our dispatch team and why we are incredibly proud of them for their experience, passion, and dedication to our drivers and customers. Are you contemplating a move? Click below to learn more about K & J through these 100 recruiting questions!

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