Celebrating a New & Old Chapters

It’s nothing new to say that Covid has affected a lot of areas in our “usual” lives, but we’ve all made sacrifices and compromises in order to keep society moving as well as our lives and businesses. Mid-States Utility has been no stranger to these changes and sacrifices. Normally, at the end of the year, in December, each of our locations would gather their respective team together for a Christmas celebration full of fun, family, and food. Unfortunately, as Covid continued to manifest into 2020, and grow worse, we saw need to postpone our celebration until a later date.

Jumping forward to the spring of 2021 where we find ourselves currently, our wonderful safety and HR staff were able to bring in the Covid-vaccination for our employees who chose to receive the shot. Now, we had the safety net needed to allow for us to gather together to a limited extent.

Although we were unable to have family join us for this “Christmas in Spring” party (as we named it), we were still able to have an enjoyable celebration between us employees at each locations with a number of activities and incredible food to be enjoyed at each one.

Stacy Retiring

In addition to the employee celebration we had a bittersweet announcement for each location in that our co-owner Stacy Bricker was retiring as of the end of April 2021 and would be moving off to Florida. Although we’re sad to see her go, we’re all incredibly excited for her new direction she’s taking and wish her all the best out in sunny Florida. We included a goodbye video which was shown at each of the parties thanking her for everything she’s done for the company and its employees over the years. There were tears, their were goodbyes, and even gifts given as she said a few words thanking everyone for everything they’ve done to keep the company moving forward.

During each party Shane, the owner of Keizer Companies, wanted to make this particular celebration extra special and put together a number of plans with some of the HR office staff. These plans included:

Decoration/Theme

Our Omaha location always knows how to party, so when we arrived and they had set things up as a beach-theme we were so inspired and had so much fun with it that we brought that theme and all the decorations with us to all the following locations!

Food

Extravagant food available at each of the locations. We love our cookouts and grilling up some brats and burgers, but Shane wanted to go all-out with steaks, filet mignon, chicken filets and baked potatoes along with a number of sides options and drinks. Needless to say, every employee ate incredibly well during the party.

Music

During our meals, we enjoyed the incredible talent of our very own Omaha Service Manager Mark Golden as he played live music stemming from his band “Almost Good” which you can see more of by going to his Facebook Page using the link below.
Almost Good Facebook Page

Giveaways/Prizes/Gifts

After the food and entertainment Shane had gifts to give out the the employees, but he wanted to add to the fun of it by turning it into a game! We went with a “Let’s Make a Deal” style game where each employee came up to the front and had three doors to choose from. Behind each door was a different prize including: outdoors items like lawn games and tents, cooking items like grills and cooking sets, and more random high-ticket items like Roombas or tablets! Needless to say, the employees had a great time and walked away with some incredible items.

Mark Golden MC’d the gameshow, while our HR manager Erica Vickery ran the “doors” and handed out the prizes.

Wishing you could have been at the festivities? Love seeing the pictures and wish you could be a part of it? Well perhaps you can. We’re always looking for more team members as our company continues to grow! Check out our careers page at the link below and fill out an application, or fill out the form on the page to be notified whenever we add new positions!

Mid-States Utility Careers Page

2020: A Year In Review

Looking back on a year full of challenges.

It’s fair to say that everyone was placed under some level of struggle and difficulty abnormal to the yearly challenges we typically face thanks to COVID19 and everything that has stemmed from that. It has definitely been tough on businesses and individuals alike. At Mid-States Utility, it has been no different. We’ve faced all sorts of tough trials throughout this year, but sure enough we pulled through and here we are almost at the end looking back on how we pressed through.

We want to take a step back and look at all the positives that came out of this year to remind us that, as we go into the new year, the year of 2020 will not be remembered as a “catastrophe” but rather use our 2020 hindsight to help us grow and keep our heads high as we go into 2021. We’ll be crossing our fingers for a smoother year, but remember that we made it through 2020 and we feel confident that means we can weather any struggle that comes our way.

January

We kicked off the start of 2020 with one of our salesman retiring. Bruce had been a salesman at Mid-States Utility for 4 years and although we were sad to see him go, we are truly thankful for all the time and awesome work he gave us while he was working with us!

We’re always big on employee achievements, even when those achievements aren’t work-related. One of our Omaha, NE employees, Kyle Bugge, bowled his first 300-point game at Leopard Lanes this past weekend. Nice job Kyle!

Another thing we’re big on is our company history. Because of our pride in our heritage we decided to create a video to commemorate how far we’ve come and to show the path Jim Keizer took to get us where we are today. Check it out below!

Even though COVID19 hadn’t taken a huge impact on the US by this point, we were still focusing on the importance of safety. Our Operations Manager from our Omaha branch, Mark, attended a special presentation and luncheon where Nebraska State Police discussed accidents and some various training on the steps to take in the case of a vehicle accident. It’s always important to stay up-to-date on policies and training!

Just for fun, we celebrated National Hat Day this year for the first time. Employees were encouraged to wear all sorts of hats and, of course, Mid-States Utility hats were available. We even gave some hats out to our customers!

February

Collaboration is key to success, we believe and strive to follow this motto in every aspect and department. In February we brought all the parts managers together from all of our locations to participate in all sorts of team-building activities, meetings, and product demos. This allowed for them all to gain all the knowledge, and hopefully inspire some great new ideas, to implement throughout the coming year.

Our Omaha location enjoyed the axe throwing so much that shortly after they decided to go out for some team building activities of their own. They went over to their local Axe Throwing location followed by dinner at Stay Sweet, Nicola’s in the Omaha Old Market.

Mid-States and Keizer Companies are always looking for great employees to bring in and add to our wonderful staff. We were reaching out to, and bringing in new employees for various positions all throughout the year of 2020. We’re constantly growing and want others to join us as we expand so if you or someone you know is looking for an awesome employment opportunity, please reach out to us!

Our parts and service department always stay on the cutting-edge of the products available to them. We had a fantastic opportunity, to get a presentation and demonstration from #ReeferBond on their product and how it can benefit us.


Getting Creative During COVID

As a company that’s been dubbed as “essential” it’s important that, during this time of difficulty, that we maintain not only the highest of safety and sanitary moderation possible, but also to maintain morale within the company. Our Omaha location found an incredibly creative way to do just that.

Our Omaha location always finds some way to have some at any given time. One day, they decided to have a drawing contest between the employees to see who could make the best turkey! You can read all about it in the blog post above!


Back in the day, our Omaha Service Director Mark Golden would give out prizes to employees that went above and beyond in their work. He has decided to bring it back!

Today the traveling “Top Banana” award goes to Travis Bohl, Parts Salesman, for exceptional customer service and support. Thanks for the awesome work, Travis! Shortly after, Adam Keogh was awarded the “Kudos Coin” for going above and beyond in his work. Not long after that our service tech Dusty Rhodes received some employee swag as a reward for helping a customer out who then left a massively positive review.

We always appreciate any and all customer feedback. If you want to leave us a review you can do so on Facebook or Google Reviews! We’d love to hear from you! And if an employee really helped you out, let us know so we can thank them personally!

May

Safety Awards Recognition

At Mid-States Utility, safety is one of our highest goals we strive to achieve on a daily basis. We are always continuing to find new and innovative ways to ensure our workspace is safe for our employees so they can focus on the work they’re doing and not dangers that can arise.

We were recognized, once again, for our safety efforts thanks to the hard work from our safety manager Tom, and the various safety teams and managers at all of our locations who are dedicated to making sure employees are out of danger’s way while at work. You can read more about it in our blog post above.

We don’t allow any drinking on the job, but mocktails (which contain no alcohol) are fair game. Our Omaha Service Manager Mark Golden is always finding new and fun ways to keep morale high! He whipped up a (non-alcoholic) mocktail drink for everyone!

Today is national Mock tail day! We made a tropical mock tail for the team to bring in some much needed smiles and say thank you.Thank you for hanging in tough and putting in work during this uncertain time. It is a proud time for the trucking industry right now. A tough family of people from around the globe that faced fear when it showed up and work tirelessly to keep the world moving.

Mark Golden – Omaha Service Manager

July

Omaha parts manager Jenni Blum along with her team hosted a group movie day open to all employees that wanted to attend. They had a great turn out with tons of food, buttered popcorn, and laughs while they enjoyed viewing “Super Troopers” and “Dazed and Confused.”

Thanks to all that attended, it was great to see a team come together even in there off time to enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other better.


Peaches & Dreams

Every summer, for the last 10+ years, Mid-States Utility Trailer Sales, Inc in Sioux City, IA sets aside a refrigerated trailer for a specific purpose, to help a very special program known as the Siouxland Youth for Christ.

We have the awesome opportunity to work with Siouxland Youth for Christ this summer as they sell peaches to raise money for their annual summer camp and other programs. Check out this article about all the details and also how you can support the organization! You can read more about it in our blog post above!

This is year 2 for us getting recognition by the Iowa-Illinois Safety Council. They have awarded us these plaques for Excellent Hazard Control. We truly appreciate the council and their commitment to safety and we too will continue moving forward with our commitment to safety for our employees, customers and facilities.

August

A good friend of our company, Scotty Briggs, sent us a letter thanking us for supporting him in the Special Olympics!

September

Taking a Step Back

Companies all around the world have been experiencing a multitude of changes thanks to Covid19. Over this past weekend several of our managers went all the way out to Missouri to take a step back for a retreat.

Some of our employees over at the Omaha branch took a step back and went on an employee retreat where they did some team building activities, discussed future plans for the company, and just took a look at past and future. You can read more about it in our blog post above.

October

Some great pictures of the teams that participated in this year’s Nebraska Trucking Association Golfing Tournament. Our Omaha trailer salesman Dave Willman and our Omaha Outside Parts Salesman Mike Davis both hosted teams for this year’s tournament.

Our Omaha parts staff were greeted with a sweet treat one morning after the Parts Manager Jenni brought in a “Make Your Own Donut” kit that gave everyone their own choices to create their own donuts. A great example of a positive work environment!

Huge thanks to our owners Shane and Stacy who provided the service employees at our Sioux Falls location with free boots and a pizza lunch. Ensuring your employees have the necessities for success is how a business thrives!

We had our first ever competition for Open Enrollment signups with the goal to see which location could get the most employees to fill out their necessary open enrollment documentation before the end of the first week. Omaha took the win in the competition for Open Enrollment, managing to get 98% of the employees there were signed up by the deadline. To reward them they received the first-ever Keizer company blankets.

It wouldn’t be October at Mid-States Utility without a Halloween Party. This year, Sioux City joined in the festivities with their own Halloween celebration and several of the employees took advantage of the opportunity to dress up! Of course, it’s always hard to beat Omaha when they celebrate! They’re renown for their festivities during Halloween! Of course, all celebration was carefully planned with COVID-safety and restrictions in-mind.

November

We’ve turned our food drive into a yearly competition after seeing its success last year. The employees loved bringing in non-perishable food items for donations to their locations’ respective food bank. This year, we started the drive a little earlier and we’re glad we did because every single one of the three locations that participated broke last year’s donation records!

The final results are in for the Keizer Company Food Drive competition. We are incredibly proud to announce that all three locations surpassed last year’s donations for our respective food banks!

Retaining the 1st place title is the Sioux City location followed close behind by last year’s 2nd place Sioux Falls and finally Omaha who was close behind them. It’s been a great competition with a TON of participation from all of our employees, all finishing with over 6,000 food items for our communities! We truly appreciate the opportunity that all of our respective Food banks have given us to allow us to help our communities.

Safety can many times be a thankless job. And while each of our locations has an employee ran safety committee occasionally one of our team members go above and beyond when it comes to ensuring their coworkers are safe. Lyle Kummer, Outside Parts Salesman at our Sioux Falls store, is one of those special individuals. Lyle has been a member of our safety committee for some time now and according to our Safety Manager, Tom Johnston, “has been a true gem for our Sioux Falls team. I wish there was a way to clone him for our other locations. What him and the rest of the safety committee has achieved in Sioux Falls is nothing short of spectacular. His efforts have made my job easier along with helping to save the company money and most importantly keep his fellow coworkers safer!”

Safety Tom enlisted the help of Mark Eaton, former NBA All-Star with the Utah Jazz, to recognize Lyle’s efforts in Safety. You can see the video creation here!

In General

Along with everything going on each month, here were some other events and achievements we participated in throughout the year of 2020.

Throughout the summer we did a number of giveaways including a die cast truck and trailer, as well as some awesome coolers for anyone who purchased a used reefer during the giveaway period. We had a ton of success and we’re excited to see what sort of giveaways we’ll be doing next year! To make sure you don’t miss these head over to our Facebook and Instagram pages and follow/like them to be notified whenever we share a post!

If there’s one thing we love doing it’s cookouts and pizza parties! Throughout the year our locations each had their own little celebrations giving food to our employees as a sign of appreciation for their hard work! Of course, we followed some strict COVID safety guidelines in order to safely host these cookouts such as gloves for everyone serving food, disinfected eating spaces, employee social distancing, and of course masks.

As the research and safety guidelines changed as the virus progressed so did our precautionary measures. The pictures you see above were taken at various points throughout the study of the virus so you may notice differing levels of precautions. Rest assured that, as these studies have discovered new information so have we changed our safety guidelines to assure maximum possible employee safety within the workplace.

As mentioned above, we’ve taken all sorts of precautions as studies have given us new information on the COVID19 virus. Employees were all given masks and various disinfectant products in order to keep their workspaces clean and sanitary. Additionally, we had to limit customer interaction and access to our facilities to ensure the safety of our employees. Because of this we have placed signs throughout our building to show customers where they can come in and speak with our staff without fear of potential infection spread.

We continue to have our safety drawings led by our fearless safety manager Tom giving out all sorts of gift cards and prizes to the employees for following our various safety procedures and ensuring a safe and positive work environment for all of our staff.

As we near the end of the year we want to offer our sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to all of you who have continued to support us through these trying times. Without you we couldn’t continue to offer our various products and services to our communities. We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and we can’t wait to see you all on what will hopefully be a much safer year to come! Here’s to 2021!

Taking a Step Back

From left to right: Mark Golden, Jennifer Blum and Mike Albright.

More than likely, you’ve either put together or taken part in some sort of employee team-building exercise, collaborative training, or group discussion within the workplace. These are great ways to grow employees’ ability to learn and better themselves within the company at work. Another option, which doesn’t always present himself and that many employers will overlook is the benefit of doing these sorts of exercises away from the office.

Over this past weekend Mark Golden, our Omaha location’s Director of Operations, did just that with Jennifer Blum (Parts Manager) and Mike Albright (Service Manager). They went all the way out to Missouri to take a step back and look at their work from a big-picture standpoint.

Companies all around the world have been experiencing a multitude of changes thanks to Covid19 and we’re no stranger to that. We’ve taken a number of precautions for our customers and employees that have changed the way we execute many of our daily functions. One benefit of this retreat was the ability to stand back and look over the craziness going on from a distance, a place where one doesn’t have to be handling and dealing with the craziness in the moment. A place that allows a deep breath and a calm moment to allow for those big decisions to be made where every option can be analyzed and weighed.

The retreat gave time to relax. Many of the changes and decisions have already been made so it was nice to be able to step away from that and take a deep breath, enjoy nature and the tranquility around you and simply rest. Often, in the hustle and bustle of the workplace, we neglect our mental and physical need to simply relax.

Mark Golden on guitar.

Bonding and friendship within the workplace can often be a powerful and beneficial benefit for the culture. It creates a sense of community. Often, though, those bonds and friendships can be strained by the general stress and exhaustion of the workplace. Another benefit of these retreats is the ability to appreciate the bonds that have been created in the workplace, and grow those friendships, without the, oftentimes, hectic environment.

Needless to say, our Omaha managers had a great and relaxing time as they stepped back and took a look at what’s been going on and look into the future at how we can grow and what’s coming in the days to come while relaxing and becoming closer as a team.

Peaches & Dreams

Every summer, for the last 10+ years, Mid-States Utility Trailer Sales, Inc in Sioux City, IA sets aside a refrigerated trailer for a specific purpose, to help a very special program known as Siouxland Youth for Christ. The trailer is used to store a large stock of peaches from out-of-state to Le Mars, Iowa where they are sold in order to raise money for the youth that are a part of the program to go to camp, as well as fund the various other operations of the program in order to reach more at-risk youth.

Every summer, Siouxland Youth for Christ sells peaches through the month of July. All proceeds go towards funding the kids for camp, as well as the other programs the youth outreach creates and manages in order to reach the kids in the program. The kids themselves work the peach sales as a volunteer effort.

The peach sales are available in the Iowa area and can be pre-ordered on their website (link below) and picked up in three different Iowa locations: Hawarden, Le Mars, and Sioux City.
https://www.siouxlandyfc.org/events/peach_sales

Siouxland Youth for Christ is a faith-based organization whose goal is to reach out to kids in the community with a number of programs to help them in a number of ways as well as pair them with a local church in their area in order to bring them closer to Christ.

The organization has been in-place since 1978 and has reached thousands of at-risk youth. They have a chapter in five different counties in the Siouxland area to offer outstretched arms to these communities.

Siouxland Youth for Christ has a number of programs with which they can reach out to kids of various ages. They have high-school and middle-school programs to offer creative classes and work with kids to make a positive impact on their schools. They offer coaching and teamwork ministries to help kids create a community of teamwork and leadership skills. They have the summer camp, which ties closely to the peach sales previously mentioned. They reach into the communities themselves in their City Life program to “transform the lives of urban youth.” They even go into the detention centers and correctional facilities to work with youth and help them as they reenter society.

If you want to get involved in Siouxland Youth for Christ in any way, whether it be a volunteer aspect or through financial donations you can do so by going to the link to their website below.
https://www.siouxlandyfc.org/get_involved/

Mid-States Utility Sales, Inc is proud to be a supporter of Siouxland Youth for Christ and we truly appreciate the opportunity to serve our community alongside them. We love the work they do and encourage others to find ways to work in and serve their communities as well.

Making Roadways Safer One Trailer at a Time

#TrailerSafetyWeek

We’re gearing up for the third annual national Trailer Safety Week to be held June 7-13, 2020! By participating in this safety campaign, we hope to improve the safety of the nation’s roadways by raising trailer safety awareness through education of end-users, dealers and manufacturers on safe trailering practices. The goal is to close the communication gap between trailer manufacturers and end-users to make towing safer.

Whether you’re a dealer or manufacturer, pointing end-users to the information on www.trailersafetyweek.com is an easy way to help improve our nation’s roadways. End-users are vastly undereducated on the proper use of trailers. It’s crucial to utilize the connections that dealers and manufacturers have with consumers to increase safety and awareness.  From driving tips to trailer maintenance and components, the Trailer Safety Week website provides end-users with need-to-know information regarding trailer safety in an easy to understand format.

In addition to resources found on the Trailer Safety Week website, trailer dealers and manufacturers have the opportunity to attend various events held across the nation. During these events, dealers will learn about the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers’ Compliance Verification Program and the importance of trailers being built to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In addition, attendees will learn about the resources available for dealers to offer end-users. Trailer safety publications will also be distributed at these events as well as Trailer Safety Week key-chains. Unable to attend an event? Order you Trailer Safety Publications here.

Questions? Contact the Trailer Safety Week team at TrailerSafetyWeek@natm.com.

Safety Awards Recognition

At Mid-States Utility, safety is one of our highest goals we strive to achieve on a daily basis. We are always continuing to find new and innovative ways to ensure our workspace is safe for our employees so they can focus on the work they’re doing and not dangers that can arise.

Recently, our company was recognized by the Iowa-Illinois Safety Council as part of the Iowa-Illinois Safety Awards they do every year. We submitted a number of presentations dedicated to portraying the various precautions and innovations we’ve made each year to enhance the safety within our company. We’re very proud of this mention and want to show you what we submitted and the steps we’re taking to ensuring the safety of our employees every single day.

Community Enrichment

The Community Enrichment awards seek to recognize companies that reach out to their community and make financial or or contributions to the community they hail from. These can include some of the following examples as listed on the IISC site:

  • Financial contributions, in the areas of safety, health or environmental efforts
  • Manpower, in the areas of safety, health or environmental efforts
  • Material resources, in the areas of safety, health or environmental efforts
  • Or other services, in the areas of safety, health or environmental efforts

Mid-States was proud to be able to submit a presentation that depicted ways we’ve been able to serve and benefit our community as shown below.

Hazard Control

Every workplace has room for improvement when it comes to safety, so the IISC created this category as an initiative for employers to catch on to areas of improvement and implement changes that create safer environments within their company. Below are some examples of how we caught and fixed some safety concerns we noticed.

We will continue to better our working conditions in any and every way we see possible, and we will continue to submit to the IISA. We’re truly proud of our employees who work diligently to ensure the safety of themselves and their co-workers and are always vigilant for areas of improvement, as well as our safety manager Tom who is always on the lookout for new and innovative safety material.

Getting Creative During COVID

As a company that’s been dubbed as “essential” it’s important that, during this time of difficulty, that we maintain not only the highest of safety and sanitary moderation possible, but also to maintain morale within the company. Our Omaha location found an incredibly creative way to do just that.

One of our employees, Crystal Reed, had to become an art teacher last night, she was talking about how hard it was to draw a bunny and a turkey with her daughter. With the recent COVID-19 situation being a bummer we decided to bump up morale and have some fun with a pizza lunch and Turkey drawing contest.

Mark Golden – Service Director, Omaha, NE

We had many submissions from all departments however in the end it came down to pure raw skill.

Mark Golden – Service Director, Omaha, NE
We had many submissions from all departments however in the end it came down to pure raw skill.

First place ribbon and $10 was Danny Foster “Trailer Tech.”

Second place ribbon was Kory Huwaldt “Parts Sales.”

Third Place ribbon was Roy Mellow “Painter.”

And finally, the prize for most realistic turkey went to Kyle Bugge “Lead Maintenance Engineer.”

As you can see from the pictures, our Omaha location also made sure to end the competition with a pizza party to really boost everyone’s spirits. With all the fear that’s been going around the world, it’s nice to take some time to just have a little fun and entertainment to keep everyone’s spirits high. We appreciate everyone in our Omaha branch who not only planned this unexpected and incredibly creative contest, but all those who participated as well to give everyone’s spirits an opportunity to be lifted.

Keeping on the Cutting Edge

At Mid-States Utility and Keizer Co we’re always pushing ourselves to stay on the cutting edge of trailer and trailer refrigeration technology. Part of this process of continued education rests on our departments meeting with each other and meeting with our vendors. We regularly have these types of meetings to ensure our staff are not only on the same level, but also knowledgeable of the opportunities and equipment that’s always evolving.

Make the Department a Team

Given the fact that we have three distinct locations for our parts departments: Sioux City, IA; Omaha, Nebraska; and Sioux Falls, SD we don’t always get a chance to talk face-to-face. So when we have the opportunity to meet together we try to make the most of it.

For our most recent meeting we sent the members of the parts department on a team-building exercise to a local entertainment establishment called Axe to Grind, a cool specialty place that allows you to throw axes at targets. The parts members had an absolute blast tossing some axes and sharing some laughs.

Team building, and general comradery helps to build communication between the staff and keep the mood positive. Meetings can often grow long and mentally strenuous, so keeping some fun and entertainment in the mix can be incredibly beneficial in maintaining focus later on.

Bring the Team Together

Great minds think alike, but they also have different ways of thinking as well. It’s ideal to have your staff come together as an incubator for ideas. Although all the staff may be from the same department selling many of the same things, they still have different experiences with customers or vendors and thus will have different questions to ask and different ideas to put forth that the other staff members may not have thought of yet.

After having the team-building exercise, your staff should be out of their shells and comfortable with each other to a point where it opens the door to the opportunity of ideas and experience-sharing.

We had meetings all throughout the day between our parts staff as they discusses new opportunities as well as the experiences they had over the past half-year with customers and vendors. Things they liked, and things they didn’t like. Things that could be improved on and ideas on how to improve on them. The team is never here to criticize or bring down, but rather to help. It’s not a competition when you all work for the same company. You are a team.

Get Hands-On

We invited several vendors to meet and speak with our parts staff giving them the rundown on new ideas and products they can offer. They showed them hands-on examples and samples of their products that the parts team could not only look at but test out and ask questions on.

It’s also beneficial to have the vendors in front of you face-to-face so the staff could ask them questions directly. If they had a situation with a part from that vendor that a customer reported, they could bring it up there and then and see what the company was doing about that situation. Additionally, the vendor could engage them about what concerns or factors affect the sale of their parts. This gives the vendor constructive criticisms to take back to corporate thus creating a mutually beneficial meeting.

Follow-Up

Once the dust settles and the vendors have all begun their drives back home it’s necessary to have a sit down with your staff and review all that had been offered during the meetings. Revisit the ideas that had come up, and address any concerns that had yet to be addressed.

It can be beneficial to have members of other departments in-attendance for this follow-up as well since they will now gain a new perspective on things that may affect them and their department, and it also gives the staff that sat in on the meetings to relay their newly acquired knowledge. Obviously, for Mid-States Utility we have three major departments: Sales, Parts and Service that work closely together. Thus, if one department has new and interesting information about new products or services, it benefits everyone to know about them when applicable.

Truckers Against Trafficking – Making a Difference

Human trafficking is a topic we don’t typically like to discuss. The topic brings with it a sour taste filled with the unpleasant thoughts of such a horrific practice. We don’t want to imagine the horrors the victims of human trafficking go through, but it’s important that we don’t ignore a problem just because we see it as unpleasant. Knowledge, discussion and action are all steps that lead to change.

With January being National Human Trafficking Awareness Month we want to highlight an organization that is making a difference in stopping human trafficking and take a look at some of the training they offer in hopes that you too will know what signs to look out for in saving victims of human trafficking. We also want to encourage all transportation and trucking companies to think about initiating training for all of your drivers so they can know what sorts of signs to look for and how to act in order to stop traffickers and save lives.

T.A.T. (Truckers Against Trafficking)

We, at Mid-States Utility, work with our friends at T.A.T. using the tools and resources they offer to train our truck drivers and staff to see the signs of human trafficking and knowing how to respond to the crime. The organization has done a fantastic job creating a number of different training tools for trucking companies as well as partnering with law enforcement and government agencies to assist any way they can to strive towards ending trafficking.

Anyone can easily learn more about T.A.T. by checking out their website here https://truckersagainsttrafficking.org/ which is absolutely full of amazing resources.

Signs to Look For

Truck stops are popular locations for human traffickers to stop at and force their victims into horrible situations. It’s important for every truck driver to be aware of any potential suspicious activity he/she notices whenever he/she stops. These signs can include the following:

  • Signs that prostitution is taking place.
  • Women or children looking fearful, disheveled or crying.
  • Multiple cars and different men going in and out of a residence.
  • Someone (typically an older male) being controlling, threatening or even violent with an individual (typically a younger female).
  • Extraordinary security measures for a business or home.

It’s also important to note that many traffickers will attempt to advertise their victims using CB radio messages to passing truck drivers. If you receive messages that sound suspicious please report them.

We all have the ability to make a difference and save lives by simply being aware of our surroundings and knowing how to react when we see or hear something suspicious.

If you are a company looking to train your drivers to fight against human trafficking, please check out T.A.T.’s Industry Training Program and get them certified. Join over 800,000 people who are registered as T.A.T. trained and are currently making a difference all across the world.

A Merry Christmas at Mid-States

Many companies have Christmas parties, but no one celebrates the holidays like Mid-States Utility and Keizer Co. With four locations, things get quite exciting, especially when three of those locations each needs to plan and host their own Christmas party. Each preparing and enacting their own activities and celebrations.

Today you get quite a treat as we delve into this years holiday celebrations from each location. What they did, the food they ate, and how they show the employees appreciation for the fantastic year we’ve had. Additionally, you’ll get to hear a couple of personal traditions and recipes from individual employees. We hope this helps to pump you up for your coming holiday celebrations and puts you in the Christmas spirit!

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The first Christmas party was held on December 6, 2019 at our Sioux Falls location. Like each location, many of the office and service staff assist in the preparation and setting up of the party as well as ordering the catering service and securing awards for the various games and activities they plan to do. It’s a lot of work, but it can also be an incredible amount of fun to prepare the day’s activities.

Food

It doesn’t really matter what holiday you’re celebrating, food is an integral part of the celebration. Sioux Falls had a fried chicken focus with their caterer, complete with sides and a number of flavors of cheesecake and cupcakes for dessert.

Activities & Contests

Ugly Sweater Contest

A classic tradition for Mid-States and Keizer that you will notice at each of our locations is the annual Ugly Sweater Contest. Employees are encouraged to buy or make an ugly sweater and wear it that day (during the party) and all employees get a vote to whose they think is particularly grotesque or just plain funny. Below you can see a number of pictures depicting just how unpleasantly creative the Sioux Falls employees can be with their choice of Christmas sweaters.

(Side Note) You may notice that we keep an open-mind to what can be entered into the “sweaters” contest. We also allow suits, vests, and anything with a ridiculous Christmas tone to it.

Who is that Baby?

A fun, new addition to the Christmas party was the Who is that Baby picture contest. A poster board featuring a number of baby pictures brought in by several employees. The pictures were labelled from numbers 1 – 14. Each attending employee received a paper with 18 names (4 extras to throw people off a little bit). The employees were tasked with figuring out which baby picture corresponded with the appropriate name on the sheet. It was a tough challenge and it was a huge success with employees gathering tightly around the poster-board of pictures trying to find those tiny hints and giveaways on the pictures.

A fun, new addition to the Christmas party was the Who is that Baby picture contest. A poster board featuring a number of baby pictures brought in by several employees. The pictures were labelled from numbers 1 – 14.

Each attending employee received a paper with 18 names (4 extras to throw people off a little bit). The employees were tasked with figuring out which baby picture corresponded with the appropriate name on the sheet. It was a tough challenge and it was a huge success with employees gathering tightly around the poster-board of pictures trying to find those tiny hints and giveaways on the pictures.

How Many M&Ms

A classic challenge that involves filling a jar up with M&M candies and challenging attendees to guess how many of the treats are hidden inside. Winner gets the jar of M&Ms as well as any other prizes you decide to tack onto it. It’s important to know that there are math equations that can often times help employees get incredibly close to the total. If you’ve filled a jar or another cylindrical shaped receptacle it can be as simple as calculating the area.

A = 2πrh+2πr2

But there’s a very simple way to discourage this little trick. Add different sized M&Ms into the mix. Peanut M&Ms are the largest of the candy’s variations, whereas mini M&Ms are the smallest. It makes calculating the potential number nearly impossible. Whatever the case we had a lot of fun with this quick competition.

The Special Seat

Most attendees didn’t realize that, hidden on the back of the chair they sat on, was a number and anyone that might have noticed them had no idea that it was part of the party. Near the end of the celebration they did a surprise raffle, drawing one of the numbers from a tin and employee sitting at the corresponding seat won a prize. Simple as that.

Omaha, Nebraska

Our Omaha branch is known to be the “king of company parties” with their annual Halloween Party always being a huge success and the Christmas holiday is no different. Oftentimes, the Des Moines branch and its employees will come to Omaha to celebrate the holiday alongside them.

Food

Whereas Sioux Falls went with fried chicken, Omaha decided on BBQ, alongside some brisket and of course the appropriate sides. They also offered cheesecake for dessert. No one left hungry after this holiday celebration.

Activities & Contests

Ugly Sweater Contest

Just like with the other two branches, Omaha holds a vote on who wore the ugliest sweater to the holiday party and a prize is awarded to the one sweater that really stuck out. Below are some of the awesome contenders for the ugliest sweater.

Basket Raffle

Special thanks to Lisa, one of our newest members to the Omaha team, for putting in an incredible amount of time and work to get the many baskets ready for the Christmas Party. Each basket had a theme to it and a number of items inside that fit that theme. Each attendee was given a set number of tickets with their names on them. These tickets could be placed inside the drawing bins next to each of the themed baskets. That way, if you really wanted a particular basket, you could put more of your tickets into it. Mark then drew from each basket to determine the winner. To ensure that everyone had a chance, he only gave one prize to each employee, even if their name was drawn more than once. Some examples of the beautiful baskets are featured below.

A Holiday Recipe

Crystal, an office staff at the Omaha branch, offered a popular recipe she prepares for her family every Christmas.

Sioux City, Iowa

Finally, came the Sioux City Christmas Party. Sioux City took a couple notes from the books of the other branches and incorporated those aspects into their own celebration.

Food

Sioux City followed Omaha’s lead in the BBQ front, hosting a meal of pulled pork and brisket as well as all the sides and fixings. For desserts they offered a number of cookies and cupcakes from the well-known local bakery Sugar Shack.

Activities & Contests

Ugly Sweater Contest

We continue with one of the most popular and well-known Christmas Party competitions: the ugly sweater contest. People at the Sioux City branch got just as into it as the others did, with quite a lot of clever creativity. Below are some examples of the ugliest sweaters out there.

Who is that Baby

After seeing the success of Sioux Falls’ Who is that Baby photo contest, Sioux City decided to hold their own. Managing to bring together 25 baby pictures of employees the game presented quite a challenge. The winner of the competition scoring 13 of the 25 correct. Although it was tough, it was an incredibly fun activity.

How Many M&Ms

Another take-away from the Sioux Falls celebration was the How Many M&Ms challenge with a prize of candy and more candy! Christmas is notorious for the number of sweets and treats consumed during the season and that’s no different here at Mid-States Utility.

Christmas Trivia

Both Sioux City and Sioux Falls handed out sheets of Christmas-themed questions for attendees to answer. They graded the sheets and the individual with the highest score received a prize! It’s important to throw in questions from different Christmas related “genres” from movies, to music to holiday history that way everyone has a chance.

A Tradition and Recipe

One of our HR representatives, Marlenne, shares with us her family’s holiday tradition as well as one of their delicious recipes.

Okay so we celebrate Christmas Eve we make a lot of good Mexican food, one that a lot of people would be familiar with is red pork tamales. We do a Mexican tradition of “the birth of Jesus”. So we have one baby Jesus which we pray and sign to him. We pass him around and everyone kisses his forehead and get some candy.

Marlenne

A Common Practice at All Our Branches

There are a handful of activities and traditions that all our branches typically their Christmas celebrations with. Those are listed below. Each one is meant to show both the owners’ appreciation for each and every employee that works for them, as well as to show the owners and the company itself how much appreciation the employees have.

A Christmas Gift

Following the food and activities the owners of the company, Shane and Stacy, take the stand where they are presented with their gift from the company. Employees pitch in and put together a financial gift in their name to a charity decided on by the employees.

Sioux Falls’ Lyle showing the donation check off to Shane and Stacy.

Sioux Falls decided to make their donation out to one of their customers who supports The Warrior Ride. The customer, Paul Thacker, is a former X Games champion who jumps snowmobiles. The organization he manages offers snowmobile experiences for disabled veterans, giving them an epic and thrilling ride.

To learn more about Paul’s organization check out this awesome video!


Omaha donated to Secret Santa Society and Sacred Heart of Omaha which works to give kids the various necessities and gifts during the holiday season that will help them out for the rest of the year.

Mark announces Omaha’s gift to Shane and Stacy.

Sioux City donated to the organization Partners for Patriots which trains and gives service dogs to veterans who are disabled or struggle with PTSD. A representative and one of the dogs stopped by during the Christmas Party to give a demonstration and talk about their organization.

A representative from local news station KCAU was there to record the gift and it later went out on the news. Below is the feature from that news story and the article that was published with it.

Company Awards

Every year the company gives out awards to employees who stood out throughout the year in some way. These awards are decided on by votes from other employees. It’s always a pleasure to be able to recognize the hard work and personal growth in our staff. After each award is given it is followed by a hearty handshake by the owners to seal that gratitude. The awards that went out have a range of different recognition such as those below.

  • Rookie of the Year
  • Perseverance Recognition
  • Innovation Recognition
  • Best Customer Service
  • Safety Recognition (Within Service and Non-Service departments)
  • Best Mentor
  • Top Sales (Within Parts and Trailer Sales)

Christmas Speech

Finishing off the festivities is Shane Keizer, son of Jim Keizer who founded Mid-States Utility and Keizer Refrigeration, who offers up a speech about the year past and the year to come. He thanks his employees for their hard work and he, and his sister Stacy, hand out Christmas cards addressed to each of the employees. The two hold true to their father’s motto that “It’s all about the people.” Of course, that applies to our customers, but it also holds true for the employees as well. A company is only as good as those working for it and maintaining it. The Christmas Parties are in place to show gratitude for each of the employees that work for the company and to celebrate another great year thanks to their hard-work!

Merry Christmas

We hope that our Christmas Parties brought joy to your holiday season. We want to thank everyone for making 2019 such a great year for all of us at Mid-States Utility and Keizer Refrigeration. We hope you all have an enjoyable and safe Christmas holiday and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for us! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!