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Maddi Traffin: ‘I hope to stay motivated and give others the grace I’ve benefited from’

The eldest of five siblings, Maddi Traffin grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, “where the winters are long, and the summers are much appreciated. ” Her challenging early years taught her to seek happiness wherever she could.

“I finished high school a year early with the goal of finding a career—a place in life I could fit in. I wanted to be a social worker to help families like mine, to show the children there is more to life. Coming from a rough upbringing, helping others through it was important to me.”Instead, holding down three high school jobs led to an easy transition into the customer service space and a different way of helping people.

“I managed a multi-department grocery store, worked for a local burger restaurant, and had a blast with an Alaskan tour company. These jobs gave me a different outlook on how to move forward into adulthood. Working with customers showed me how flexible I can be, traveling the state made me grateful to be from such a beautiful place, and working with local businesses gave me a new level of respect for the community.”

By 2020, Traffin had spent more than 10 years working in customer service when the stirrings of a global pandemic shook the employment landscape in Alaska.

“I was ready to find something different. I wasn’t set on just one employment category—I was searching for a place where I could find happiness. After several attempts at leaving customer service, I took the leap once I found Naniq.”

Naniq’s Anchorage night ops crew votes monthly for the best team leader, employee of the month, and more. Manager Maddi Traffin is dedicated to finding new ways to recognize members for their achievements.

Overhauling the night shift

Traffin is the Regional Gateway Manager for Anchorage-based Naniq Global Logistics, responsible for Naniq’s small package operation in Alaska. She manages a team of approximately 150 staff who work the night shift sorting packages by destination before forwarding them on to begin the final leg of their journeys.

“When Maddi first applied to Naniq, the Anchorage operation was in dire need of an overhaul,” explained Laura Desmond, Vice President of Employee Services and Facilities Management at Naniq. “We experienced high employee turnover, standard theft, violence between employees, and a pressing desire to change the organizational culture. Maddi applied for the job posting, and she was selected not solely for her experience but for the compelling way she described her duties at previous jobs, which immediately captured our attention.”

Desmond said Traffin’s resume exuded a palpable positive attitude and passion, evident in every word she wrote. This resume earned her an interview, during which it became abundantly clear that Traffin was the catalyst for the culture change that Naniq urgently required in its Anchorage warehouse.

“My first year with this company was filled with excitement. I wanted to capture every opportunity to learn and grow professionally and internally.”

She credits her mentor, Damon Leftwich, for her career success.

“Damon reminds me that some things happen that are out of our control, so we have to learn to flex for the betterment of the operation. I’m learning to remind myself to take a step back and remember to look at the big picture.”

Desmond said Traffin effortlessly instills a sense of empowerment in her team, encouraging them to proactively seize opportunities and uphold elevated standards.

“Her leadership inspires a desire to excel and gain her approval. Unbeknownst to her, she naturally embodies the role of a mentor, guiding others toward excellence. She has cultivated a safe space where employees feel confident addressing safety issues with her. Additionally, designated areas in the warehouse commemorate noteworthy occasions like safety achievements, employee recognition, birthdays, and work anniversaries.”

In the two years since she joined Naniq, Traffin has considerably improved safety numbers, as well as the issue of theft.

“Maddi has fostered a collaborative atmosphere within the warehouses, promoting a strong sense of teamwork,” Desmond said.

“I want everyone to feel confident in their careers and to create an environment where passion is felt, heard, and seen,” Traffin said.

Head up, stay focused

Traffin spent much of her customer service career in the cosmetics industry and occasionally moonlights as a makeup artist.

“I get to express myself freely and show my artistic skillset. I’ve been known to do fun event makeup as a side hustle from time to time, but mostly, when I am not with my Alaskan teams, I enjoy time with the family I’ve made. My husband and I work opposite schedules—I work nights, he works days. We know the hard work we put in now will pay off for us in the long run. We try to get out of Alaska at least once a year to travel together as a family.”

She lives by the mantra, ‘Head up, stay focused.’

 “I’m beyond happy where I am with Naniq and with my life. I’m grateful for the obstacles and the safety net for learning along the way, as none of us are perfect. I hope to stay motivated and give others the grace I’ve benefited from, as I understand growth is not a straightforward path.”

Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Saltchuk family of companies as a consultant. Since People of Saltchuk launched in 2014, Reeves has interviewed more than 200 Saltchuk employees from operating companies all over the world. Born in Tacoma, Washington, Reeves is a former president of both the collegiate and local professional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, a graduate of the Society’s Ted Scripps Leadership Institute, and a Toastmaster. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, ski, and practice the piano. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two young daughters.