Cari Woitalla

Cari Woitalla | Senior Project Manager | Anderson Trucking (ATS)

Cari Woitalla is one of those lucky few who start their careers at a family-owned business and never need to leave.

“It’s a complete honor to work for the Anderson family. They’ve been phenomenal to work for. I think it’s ironic, this is really the only job I’ve had my entire life and I’m proud to say that.”

Cari came to Anderson Trucking when she was still in college at Central Lakes in Brainerd. She started out as a part-time load tracker -- ensuring the trucking company knew exactly where each semi-truck and its load of product was at any given time.

From there, Cari’s roots in the area continued to deepen. She got married and helped realize a dream -- building a house in the woods with her husband, “in the middle of nowhere.” She now enjoys spending her summers on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes with her two kids -- a son and a daughter.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work for Anderson Trucking for the past nearly 20 years,” -- and she says it’s thanks to this career that’s allowed her to give her children the life she’s always imagined for them.

At ATS, she has steadily risen up the ladder. She’s currently a Senior Project Manager -- overseeing every tiny detail that goes into safely transporting up to hundreds of massive wind turbines from origin to the project site.

Cari is now an expert on wind transportation. She had the opportunity to oversee the company’s first wind project in 2004. Looking back, she says the turbines they were moving to project sites across the country were small. But at the time, she was overwhelmed by their size and the complexity of getting them transported.

Over the years, she says the wind industry has grown, with ATS innovating along the way. Cari helps manage just-in-time deliveries, which is a process that takes time, good communication, and precise management.

“A just-in-time delivery would allow the parts to come in sequentially, so they can be offloaded and erected as they come in,” says Cari. “Typically, you do one turbine per day so ideally you’re going to deliver a base section, midsection, top section,  nacelle and a hub, and the associated blades that go with that to a pad in a day.”

The company is figuring out how to transport even larger wind turbines -- sometimes even removing sign posts from roadways to help ease a truck’s passage through a narrow turn.

“The project I’m most proud of is probably Red Pine. I have family that lives in the area, so it was fun because each day, they would send me pictures of the components traveling to the site and they’re so large that the kids just think it’s fun. There’s always a sense of pride when it’s in your backyard and it’s visible to everybody,” she tells us.

Something else she’s proud of? The fact that her kids are old enough now to learn about the clean energy industry at school and are excited that their mom has an important job.

“My son was learning about wind energy in school this year in his third grade social class and he was proud and I was proud to say that our family is a part of that and we helped develop that here in Minnesota,” Cari tells us.

And that’s not all -- Cari’s kids also learn about clean energy from watching it at home.

“Our cabin is powered by solar which is pretty exciting, and I think it's a great thing for my kids to see and learn. So, they see me working in the clean energy sector and helping to build and develop these wind farms. And at home we’re also practicing that by the solar power and making sure we are taking care of the environment.”

Last year, Minnesota added more than 600 megawatts of renewable capacity, much of it thanks to wind energy. Job opportunities in wind are varied and well paying. In fact, more than 57,000 Minnesotans are employed by clean energy businesses, according to the 2017 Clean Jobs Midwest Report. And thirty percent of those are in Greater Minnesota -- like ATS.

Take it from Cari -- who’s watched the wind industry change a lot over the past 14 years. “I think it’s a growing industry and I think there’s a ton of potential. There are so many different types of job opportunities that you don’t even think of on a daily basis. It is definitely something to be proud of and something to build a future on.”