CINCINNATI. Accomplishing goals and winning awards in life are sometimes the crowning moments of one’s professional career, but for Brad Johnston, the hope is that his latest achievement is just another step up the career ladder.
Johnston was presented with the National Private Truck Council’s (NPTC) Certified Transportation Professional (CTP) Top Graduate award today at the NPTC’s Annual Management Conference and Exhibition here. The award was presented to Johnston by Mari Roberts, CTP, NPTC Board of Governors chair, and transportation -network optimization service manager for Frito-Lay, and Brian Straight, managing editor of Fleet Owner, which sponsors the Top Graduate award.
Johnston said he found out he was the Top Grad in an email in late February. He earned the highest marks on NPTC’s annual CTP certification, topping a class of 93 graduates, the largest CTP class ever.
“I was ecstatic,” said Johnston, who is transportation manager for the Kellogg Company in Kansas City, MO. “Kellogg selected me to go this institute. They select a handful of people each year, so I was very excited to go.”
Bedford Monday, CTP, NPTC board chair, and regional general manager of Schwan’s Consumer Brands, gave the graduates a few encouraging words.
“It’s a big family, a historically sized family at this point,” he said. “CTP graduates, I sat in your seat 11 years ago. Congratulations. Don’t consider this a destination, it’s journey. Use this to grow and expand your knowledge, and welcome to the family.”
There are now over 1,200 professionals that have graduated the CTP program, NPTC said, with over 500 still active.
Johnston grew up in the trucking industry. His father Jim Johnston operated a regional, overnight delivery service and the younger Johnston recalls working in the business as far back as 8th grade. Jim Johnston is still involved in the business, running a small refrigerated shipments operation, Brad Johnston says.
Following his time in the family business, the 39-year-old Johnston went on to forge his own career path, a path that eventually led him to Sysco.
“Sysco was the first real transportation service I worked for,” he says. “They taught me a lot about tractor-trailers. I spent about two years there before coming to Kellogg.”
Johnston has been with Kellogg for two years. He says he tried to get into the CTP program in 2014 but wasn’t selected by Kellogg. That changed this year when he was informed of his inclusion.
“I’ve had a lot of good bosses; obviously, one of them was my Dad, but [Kellogg] has given me a lot of opportunity to grow,” Johnston says.
Because of the large number of CTP professionals within Kellogg, Johnston says he thought he was prepared for the exam.
“They use a lot of subject matter taught [in the CTP class] in their day-to-day operations, a lot of the safety and compliance,” he says. “Going in, I thought I was pretty well prepared, but after going to that week-long [preparatory] class in Florida, reality started to set in and I realized I needed to [buckle down].”
Johnston says he started his prep work in earnest in January, spending about three to four hours per day studying, mostly in his off-hours time. With a wife and three kids at home, there were some trade-offs.
“My wife Sharon knew how important this was to me. Transportation is a different animal,” he says.
Johnston also worked with other Kellogg class attendees, writing case studies and sharing information, hoping to learn from each other.
“We all had the same goals – we all wanted to pass,” Johnston says. “We didn’t want to let Kellogg down because they invested the time in us.”
Johnston says the CTP designation becomes a stepping stone in his career. “All of upper management and transportation professionals have the [CTP] designation,” he says. “Kellogg believes in it very significantly—and I hope it will advance my career.
“I’m about advancing myself. I don’t want to stay idle. I’m about pushing myself, pushing my limits,” he says. “But I don’t think the company looks down on that. They send you to these things so you can grow and advance with the company.”
And now, like many of his co-workers, Brad Johnston has the right to put CTP after his name.