For Phil and His Family

Yesterday a 65 year old woman was driving a van in Monticello, Minnesota, and she crossed completely over the white line. In doing so she hit and caused the death of Monticello’s very own Phillip Gregory LaVallee. Phil Graduated with me last year and he was one of the most amazing athletes I have ever seen or had the chance to know.

He said once, in an interview that one thing he thought would be kind of cool to do before he passed was to win our hometowns 5K. Earlier this summer Phil did just that! He even set a record for fastest time! I remember seeing him there and thinking, “holy cow he’s amazing”. My mother and I were excited that someone from Monticello had won this year and she remembers seeing him jogging back after finishing while she was still running. She also thought that he was amazing.

Best wishes to Phil’s family, goodness knows how hard it is to lose someone. especially someone who was so young and full of promise.

To read the original story follow the below link.
Thank You,

Plans Underway for Annual Driver Training

We have been doing our annual driving training in a one-on-one setting for the last few years so we would have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with each driver.

We’re shaking things up this year.

On August 20, 2013, we are going to run two sessions.  The first begins at 8:00 am and runs until 1:00 pm, and the second begins at 12:00 and runs until 4:00 pm.  Each of the two sessions will be identical; it’s up to bus drivers which option to choose.

We’re going to set up a bunch of booths and training stations in the parking lot.  Drivers will be paired in groups of two or three and will be assigned a starting point and assigned a path.  They will collect a token at each booth, and will be able to enter a drawing for a marvelous (REALLY MARVELOUS) grand prize drawing at the end of the day.

So far we have planned the following stations (a minimum of twelve stations will be set up and a maximum of twenty-five), and have contacted a few area vendors and businesses to (we hope!) get a few unique learning opportunities for our staff:

  • Jami will meet with the small team of drivers to give them their routes and Opening Day information packets.  She will update them with some staffing changes made over the summer.
  • A trainer will demonstrate several different versions of our No Child Left Behind Devices, wheelchair securement, and miscellaneous items relating to pre- and post-trip inspections.  EACH driver will have a chance to secure a wheelchair.
  • A local expert will observe drivers securing car seats, vests, and other restraint devices, and will make corrections where necessary.
  • Shelley will have packets of annual forms, including tax and employment forms, DOT forms, personal information updates, and MVR reviews.  She will also be handing out revisions of three important publications we haven’t revised for five years.
  • A local business will offer chair massages and health and wellness information.
  • A local health expert will offer information about dealing with common special circumstances, like choking, seizures, epipens, and general student information.
  • Matt will offer a mirror adjustment clinic so EACH driver will learn about adjusting mirrors in an unfamiliar bus for the proper positioning to minimize blind spots.
The list is already exciting, but the final five spots haven’t been confirmed yet.  I guarantee they will top off the list in STYLE and SUBSTANCE!

We’ve also contacted a local food vendor to create a fantastic menu so the morning attendees can end their day with a meal and the afternoon attendees can begin their session with a meal.  We’re hoping that creates an opportunity to introduce new employees and perhaps some school administrators and staff.  

We have started working on contacting some local businesses who might be interested in providing some coupons or giveaways for our BUS DRIVER GOODIE BAGS, which are always a big hit and which generate some extra business in our community.
This should be a fun event and a great kick-off to the school year.  
Y’all should stop in for a peek.
Safe Driving!

If it’s Sunny…it must be Summer!

It’s so close to the end of the year and all of us here at Hoglund Transportation look forward to finishing this school year off well!  We hope that all of our students return to us in the fall and have a blast this summer. Remember to finish strong and be safe during this well earned vacation!

Find the Fish!

    As a promotion for one of our “Hoglund Companies”- U-Save Auto Rental– we have begun a fun little event. When you rent a car/van you will find a note inside telling you that you have become part of an involuntary scavenger hunt. It’s pretty simple though so no worries. All you have to do is find the Swedish fish hidden in the car!
   We are not professional hide and seekers so the task is easily accomplished and your reward is sweet! When you find the fish you will also find a note with them. This note gives you the background information on why we have hidden the fish in the first place! Aside from the note and the fish, you will find an otherwise clean and ready to roll car! We enjoy our jobs while you enjoy our business. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Hoglund’s 13 in 2013 Program!

     Starting this month Hoglund Transportation is holding a program for its employees!  This program is focused on 13 areas that an average adult can improve on.  As well as providing the employees with gym passes, this event also gives every participating member (13 in ’13 is not mandatory but it’s recommended strongly) a pedometer, water bottle, and a 13 in ’13 journal! This journal provides you with all 13 improvement methods, and allows room to keep track of your progress. Before I go too far, here are the 13 improvements:

  • Going to the gym and finding new ways to physically challenge and improve your body.
  • Drinking enough water.
  • Eating the right amount of fruit.
  • Making sure you are getting enough sleep each night.
  • Finding a way to challenge your mind.
  • Eating the correct amount of veggies.
  • Working on stress management.
  • Keeping a positive attitude.
  • Contributing to the community.
  • Making sure that you are not a couch potato.
  • Using daily affirmations
  • Planning your meals in a healthy way.
         Now for the nitty-gritty, during this first week we have used the gym time to help new gym goers figure everything out. For the first two day the employees where introduced to the machines and could randomly hop from machine to machine. The third day we broke any employees who wanted to into groups and did a set work out plan focused on lower body strengthening. The fourth day we broke into groups as well and focused on upper body. Today we are going to do a tabata.

     For those who do not know what Tabata is, I will explain it here. Tabata is where you pick 6,8,10,or 12 different exercises, and do them in 20 second intervals with 10 second breaks. You do 8 intervals of each exercise you choose. This is a super fun way to work out because the Tabata music always has a quick beat and fun music (music can be bought online or through itunes). Starting next Thursday, there will be a Tabata class led by one of our staff members every week.

     Improving yourself is something all of us can work towards! It isn’t hard to increase the amount of water you drink by one cup, or snack on an apple on your way to work. The goal of 13 in 2013 isn’t to have everyone lose an extreme amount of weight because that’s not realistic. The goal is for the employee to notice change, and know they’re able to accomplish their goal with a little determination, effort and support.

Check out our Facebook page for update on work outs, what charity we are donating to this month, and healthy recipes and meal planning tips!

Thank You,

We Need the Students Help!

Dear parent and students,
 We are looking for students ranging in ages from six to twelve years old to be a part of our new rules of the week photos! This little photo session  would be taking place on the 15th and 16th of august and with last from 2- 4:30 both days with a picnic afterward on the 16th! We will be needing about 20 students and would also like them to bring their back packs and minimal supplies with them!

If you are interested in helping us out please call us at 763.295.3604 or leave a comment on either this post or on our facebook page! We look forward to having as many students as we can helping us make this process a success!  Thank you for your help!

The Summer Games

Aren’t we excited about the upcoming Summer Olympic Games?  Sure, we see many of the same things every time there is an Olympic event – we see amazing feats of athleticism, bitter disappointments, and there is always that one underdog we all cheer.  Still, the Olympics always feel new, fresh, and exciting.

Here at Hoglund Transportation, we get the same feeling about our own version of the the Summer Games.

Don’t get me wrong:  there is very little about what we do that we take as lightly as a “game” and we don’t joke about student safety.  While keeping safety and  efficiency uppermost in our minds, we think it’s important to approach our work with a spirit of excitement and fun in honor of the people we work hardest to protect: our students.

So it is during the summer that we renew our commitment to providing safe and efficient rides for all our students, clean and organize every space in our offices, develop new and better driver training tools, and generally plan the year to come.  This year we’re making an extra effort to get things ready for the fall, and we’re doing it now, in June.

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. We have a new routing software upgrade that offers a better, digitalized map.  Jami and I are taking the time to review EVERY SINGLE BUS STOP in our District, and configuring our map so we know we are meeting very specific needs.  Some of the things the routing software can help us remember include medically required accommodations for our most vulnerable students, right-side (crossing) restrictions in those places where a student should never cross the road to board or deboard the bus, and how roads are configured in terms of passing and turning lanes, speed zones, and other specific information.  Routing software is amazing and, when it is properly implemented, makes what we used to do painstakingly by hand so much more simple and so much more beautifully produced.  Let me tell you, this is the most fun we’ve had in a few years!
  2. We have summer school routing to prepare and present to drivers.  We should be finished with next week’s routing plan by Thursday, so parents can expect to get a call by 2 pm Thursday.  
  3. We have Kindergarten students to plot and separate into AM and PM groups.  It’s not as simple as it seems.  We first plot every half-day Kindergartener on our map.  Once they’re there, we color-code them so we can see what preferences their families have for AM or PM designation.  Then we start playing the “what-if” game:  “What if we drive this way?  Can we meet every single request by a parent?  If we can meet every single request, are there equal numbers of boys and girls in each division?  Have we met the needs of the families with shared custody?  Does this work for the greatest number of people?  If it does, have we met every single safety criteria?”  Surprisingly enough, once we hit on the right solutions for routing, it almost inevitably follows that we have met our safety criteria and we have divided the students the right way.  It’s almost like magic when it works out that neatly and precisely accurate.  Considering we cannot ask parents to produce their children in a geographically organized fashion, routing half-day Kindergarteners can be a challenge.  It’s one we greatly enjoy!
  4. We have student records to update.  We’ve been receiving updates from parents by the armful!  We sure appreciate those who have sent them already.  The sooner we know who is riding and where they are, the sooner we can finish routes for the 2012-2013 school year.
  5. We have routes to dissemble and reassemble.  Did you know that it is a failure by a transportation organization to leave routes unchanged from year to year?  The world changes every year – new vegetation appears or gets bigger, road configurations change, student populations age and new pockets of younger students appear.  We need to look at every single thing we do every single year (in fact, multiple times during the year) to make sure we are creating the safest program we possibly can.  The time to do that is not the middle of winter!  It’s now.  
  6. We have driver training programs and health initiatives we are planning.  Basically, each year we offer a new health initiative aimed at having the most healthy drivers we can behind the wheels of our vehicles.  THIS IS CRITICAL!!!!  Healthy drivers who come to work every day are the greatest safety feature we can offer our students.  We also present our drivers with the opportunity to accumulate a minimum of eight hours of safety training each school year.  They need to spend only minutes each week on our safety site completing assigned tasks and another handful of minutes reading our weekly newsletter and completing an additional assigned task.  They round out their safety training by attending safety and nutrition meetings (one of each every month), and participating in company functions.  This year’s health initiatives include continuing our WALKER TRACKER PROGRAM and a new FRUIT AND VEGETABLE program.  Should be a colorful year!  Our safety focus this year will be HANDLING EMERGENCY SITUATIONS APPROPRIATELY (one of the six competencies the State of Minnesota requires school bus drivers to meet).  It’s going to be a busy year for our drivers!
  7. We have completed organizing half of our storage areas in the office and will finish the second half by the end of the month.  Organization is key to our business because of the number of things we offer our community.  Knowing where everything is, having everything in its place, and using our space efficiently is part of what makes us best able to serve our customers.
  8. We have started a new business!  After providing transportation in this community for sixty-five years (since 1947), we feel like the local transportation professionals.  We expanded our offerings to include rentals cars two decades ago.  This year, we’ve added a line of TAXIS, A+ Taxi of Monticello, Inc.  This is not your average taxi service, my friends.  This is a full service offering. We will unlock your vehicle when your keys are inside it or jump start it when it’s dead.  We will deliver packages for you.  We will help our elderly with groceries and medical appointments.  Eventually, we plan to offer bilingual staff.  This new endeavor has infused our staff with energy!
So, yes, we are busy in the summer.  Yes, we enjoy every minute of it (almost!).  Yes, we get shorter days and even have Fridays off.  So, yes, this feels a little like the Summer Games.  
Interested in joining us in our efforts?  Call now!  We can fully train a new driver well in advance of the start of the school year, and can always use extra help.
Safe Driving,

We Have…..Websites!

I know that to some people what you are about to read might be a bit of a shocker but it must be read! Hoglund Transportation is not the only company we run. There is still U-Save Auto Rental, Ninety-Four Services, Attic Mini Storage, and our latest addition A+ Taxi! Are you ready for the run-down?

U-Save Auto Rental is a car and van rental business that is (and I know I’m a bit biased) friendliest and most convenient rental place in town. We offer a variety of vehicles to choose from and have both walk-in service and reservations. Plus you can go online to our website and print a coupon for a discount; you can even make your reservation there! Also online is our vehicle listings and what they cost to rent. If you ever need a rental just click here and we will be more then happy to help you out!

Ninety-Four Services 94 Services Inc. is a C-Corp, initially incorporated in 1970 to function as an over-the-road trucking operation and vehicle dealership.  Ambulance sales and service were added to the company’s roster of services in 1991, and we added Life Line products in 1992.  94 Services Inc. is sister company to a second C-Corp, Hoglund Transportation, Inc., incorporated by the same ownership in 1947.  Currently all sales and service are conducted by Joe Kounkel or his designee.  Joe has been employed by the company since 1987, and was the first ambulance salesman employed by 94 Services Inc.  Both the company and Joe are dedicated to providing the best service possible at all times, which is why “Service is in our Name.”  More information is available to customers, and all customers and potential customers are welcome to visit our organization at any time.  Four references are available as an attachment, and more references can be provided upon request

Attic Mini Storage is a storage facility located right down the road from our office making it quick and easy to use! This company has been under new management as of early April and is currently in the process of being renovated. We are Fixing the gate, adding cameras and many more exciting things!  Click here to look at our new web site for pricing contacting our office and updates as they happen!

A+Taxi is our newest company and is also being run out of our main office. This is an, as you guessed, taxi company. Where all you have to do is call and we come and get you! All our drivers are experienced and undergo background checks. For more info check out our website here. We await your call!

Thank You,

On Privatization…

I recall teachers and professors frequently (please note I didn’t say “always“) commenting on the danger of using sweeping generalization. “A sweeping generalization,” according to San Jose University professors, “is one in which there seems to be sufficient evidence offered to draw a conclusion, but the conclusion drawn far exceeds what the evidence supports.”

It often occurs to me that many people, including many journalists, missed those sweeping generalization lectures. Today I read an article in the Minneapolis Labor Review (No. 11, March 23, 2012) about the Robinsdale School District voting to outsource their transportation to a private company. The decision was made because the school district’s skyrocketing costs are out of line with what other districts are paying for transportation. Apparently, the community is in an uproar. I think that’s typical of any community facing a massive change that affects students.

However, I would imagine, as is the case in most similar situations, that drivers will be offered employment with the new private company. And lest we get caught up in the debate about the quality of the private company, I assert that the company will be as good as the local manager. If that person cares about the community, and is good at running school bus operations, the community is going to have a positive experience. If the reverse is true, the community will not have a positive experience. In my opinion, the quality of the transportation operation rests on the shoulders of all Transportation Managers, whether employed by School Districts or by private contractors, nation-wide.

What I don’t care for, and always object to, is the people who paint all private companies with the same brush, the brush of sweeping generalizion. It’s very much like what happens when fanatics start dicussing evil corporations (all corporations are bad and all corporations are destroying the fabric of our country – to which I always interject, “Mine isn’t.) Consider the following comments from the article:

  • Speaker after speaker expressed fears for student safety if transportation is handed over to a private contractor.
  • Privatizing is bad for students, parents, taxpayers…
  • Busses [sic] currently operated by private contractors are regularly late and students tell her stories of those private contractor’s drivers stopping to smoke or talk on cell phones.

I’m offended by the article.

We are a private company.

We operate every day with student safety as our first, though not only, priority. We also care about accountability to our School District, our community, our customers, and our employees.

Our drivers, though non-union employees, care about their students, often going to great lengths to make a student’s day better. We are not regularly late, although we have had the rare situation that results in tardiness. Our drivers don’t stop to smoke, leaving kids unattended or in unsafe situations. We have disallowed cell phone use while our vehicles are in operation long before the law disallowed it. I have many other examples of this particular private company leading the way along safe paths (implementing drug and alcohol testing before it was mandatory, requesting improvements to bus design, leading the way in student and public education, and belonging to our community…).

I don’t think that was the point of the article.

Really, the crux of the matter has nothing to do with student safety or the contributions of private contractors to student transportation in the state of Minnesota. The crux, I believe, appears in one of the final paragraphs of the article:

If the district contracts out for its school bus operations, school district dollars will become a source of profit for a private bus company, instead of going towards [sic] union wage jobs and benefits.

First, when did “profit” become a bad word? Profit, essentially, is ending the month with a little cash left in the bank after all the bills and expenses are paid. And honestly, don’t we all want to make a profit? And understand, I am referring to modest, reasonable profits; I think multi-million dollar packages for CEOs of corporations are ridiculous and insane.

Further, if that private bus company can provide safe and efficient transportation services and if they can offer those services for less than what the district is paying currently (even including their nasty profit), why wouldn’t tax payers be in favor of reducing costs?

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Safe Driving!