Brad Grafe, Owner & President


Brad graduated from Grand Meadow in 1983. After graduation, he worked in the fertilizer and chemical business for 2 years, which started in Grand Meadow then took him to Florida for a short time and Wisconsin after that. He then moved back to Grand Meadow in 1985 and managed CTI (Clement Trucking Inc) for the Clement family for 4 years prior to venturing out and starting Valley Transportation in 1989. Valley Transportation was started by Brad, his father Dick Grafe, Pat Stienkamp and Jeff Hegge. Pat and Jeff were both co-workers and long time friends of Brad's prior to that.

The challenges over the next several years were not small, business was up and down and cash was tight due to rapid growth. Business decisions became much larger than any of them had imagined and Brad's father had health related issues that made him unable to tackle the day-to-day challenges. The coming years brought decisions that made Brad the sole owner of Valley Transportation. The decisions have not gotten easier since that time, but Brad says the staff we have now makes his job a lot easier than it was back then, when the four of them tried to do everything by themselves.

When not at work Brad enjoys boating, snowmobiling and spending time at the lake with family and friends.

Nick Baldus, Vice President & Operations Manager

Nick grew up in Grand Meadow where he graduated high school. He began working in the shop for Valley Transportation in February of 2001, then in 2005 he moved into the office as a dispatcher for the heavy haul division. He has now moved into the Operations Manager position where he monitors all Dispatch, Brokerage, and CSM operations. He works closely with dispatch and customers as he coordinates freight. When Nick is not at work he enjoys camping, hunting, fishing, farming and snowmobiling.

Kerin Rath, HR Administrator

Kerin was born and raised in Spring Valley, MN. She graduated from Kingsland High School in 2011. After graduating, she came to Valley in 2014 as a Receptionist. As time progressed, she had relocated and moved to Duluth, MN. In January 2018 she moved back to the area and began working at Valley in our Recruiting department. Kerin is our Orientation Director and Human Resources Administrator here as well. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, going to sporting events, and spending time with family and friends.

Kristi Jack, HR Specialist

Kristi Jack is our HR Director. She grew up in Spring Valley, MN, where she graduated high school and then attended Winona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. Kristi has been with Valley Transportation since June of 2006. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Julie Back, Company Accountant

Julie is the accountant for Valley Forwarding and also does our office and shop payroll. Julie is from Spring Valley, MN, and has earned a degree in Finance and Accounting. Julie began working for Valley Transportation in May of 1995, prior to that she worked at a bank. Outside of work she enjoys hiking, biking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Caden Fruth, Accountant

Caden was born and raised right here in Grand Meadow, MN and started his career with Valley in 2018 working in our maintenance department. After he graduated from Grand Meadow High School in 2019, he went on to pursue an Accounting degree through Northeast Iowa Community College and made the move into our accounting department. Caden completed his Associate's degree in Accounting in 2021 and now takes care of all of our independent contractor settlements as well as a variety of other accounting functions. In his free time, Caden enjoys spending time with family and friends, riding side-by-side, and going to the local dirt track. Caden is a volunteer firefighter for Grand Meadow Fire & Rescue, a board member of the Rock Road Bandits, and enjoys staying involved with these as well as many other great community organizations/events.

Kim Perkins, Accounting Generalist

Kim currently lives in Austin, MN. She holds multiple degrees from Mankato State University. Kim started with Valley Transportation since June of 2021 as a Broker and currently is an Accounting Generalist. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, baking, and going to state parks.

LaFern Pardun, Accounting Generalist

LaFern is new to the area and the Valley family. She has relocated to LeRoy and is originally from Bloomington by way of Hinckley, where she spent the last 22 years raising her family. She graduated with an A.A.S Degree in Business Administration and is using her skillset to work in our accounting department. She is looking to expand her knowledge and gain more first-hand experience. She has a varied background from working in retail, to being a scout leader and a business owner.
She is looking forward to getting to know the area better and making new friends. Outside of work, she enjoys being in nature, road trips, spending time near water, glamping, and traveling with her friends and family.

Tori Thomas, PeopleNet / GPS Administrator

Tori grew up in Spring Valley, MN and graduated from Kingsland High School in 2000. After graduating, she went on to work in banking for 5 years before starting in the trucking industry. Tori was previously employed with Valley from 2008 - 2020 before returning in October 2022. She has worked in a variety of positions such as Receptionist, Permit Coordinator, Recruiting and Safety Assistant, and most recently Peoplenet/GPS Administrator. Tori is married to a truck driver and has five kids. When away from work, she enjoys spending time with her family and attending her children's activities.

Karsen Ulwelling, Safety Director

Karsen grew up in Rose Creek, MN. He graduated from Southland High School in 2010 and continued his education at Rochester Community and Technical College. He worked in our Dispatch & Heavy Haul Permit department before entering his career as Safety Director. He is a recent graduate of the 2021 Minnesota Trucking Association NEXTLEADER program. Karsen, along with his wife, son, and daughter live on an acreage near Grand Meadow, MN. When not working, Karsen enjoys spending time with his family & friends, farming, snowmobiling, and enjoying country living. Karsen is also a volunteer firefighter/EMR on Grand Meadow Fire & Rescue and enjoys serving the community.

Justin Stevens, Recruiting Specialist

Justin grew up in LeRoy, MN and graduated from LeRoy-Ostrander. He currently lives in Adams, MN with his wife and two kids. In his spare time, he enjoys watching sports and spending time with family and friends.

Amanda Pedersen, Recruiting & Marketing Specialist

Amanda grew up in the Oronoco area, and she now calls Dexter, MN, home. Amanda's background has largely centered around agriculture. Outside of work, you can find her riding vintage snowmobiles, riding and showing her horses, gardening, and growing flowers.

Bruce Sween, Driver Trainer/Support

Bruce was born and raised in Grand Meadow, MN. He graduated from Grand Meadow High School in 2004. He obtained his CDL at the age of 18 and showed interest in the trucking industry immediately. He has worked with many different types of tractor-trailers and is an experienced driver trainer. When not at work, he loves spending time with his two children, Bentley, and Skylar. He also enjoys working on the farm every chance he gets and being outdoors! Bruce obtained his NATMI - Driver Trainer certification in March of 2019!

Laura Fate, Receptionist & Administrative Asst.

Laura is from Spring Valley, MN and joined the Valley Transportation team in January 2022.
Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her family and enjoying the outdoors.

Tammy Pierce, Receptionist

Tammy was born and raised in Spring Valley, MN, she lived in Iowa for 25 years before moving to Grand Meadow, MN.
She worked in customer service for 30 years before coming to Valley. Tammy enjoys baking and trying new food ideas in her spare time, along with spending time with her family. Tammy also loves to watch football and is a Diehard Saints fan, WHO DAT!

Pat Steinkamp, CSM

Pat is from LeRoy, MN, and he been with Valley Transportation since the beginning. He was one of the original four partners of the company when it started back in 1989. Eventually, the current and sole owner, Brad, bought out the other partners, but Pat remained with the company and is currently a CSM. He assists in all customers transport needs. Outside of work Pat enjoys watching football and spending time with his children.

Jimmie Arnold, CSM

Jimmie grew up in southern MN. He worked on farms and at a truck stop throughout high school, and graduated in 1988. After high school Jimmie went to Vo-tech school for diesel mechanics and graduated in 1990. After Vo-tech he began working on combines and tractors for an Implement dealer, then moved into their fertilizer division and was a custom applicator for three years. Prior to signing on as a dispatcher with Valley Transportation Jimmie also worked for an agriculture dealer and a truck and auto repair shop. Jimmie is currently a CSM for Valley. Outside of work Jimmie enjoys hunting, fishing, horseback riding and restoring old cars and tractors. He also raced stock cars from 1991 to 2008.

Pete Kappers, CSM

Pete is from Spring Valley, MN where he graduated high school and then went on to attend Austin Technical Institute where he got his degree in Auto/Industrial Machining. Pete has been involved in farming, truck driving, and worked at Crenlo, Inc. as a class A welder before coming to Valley as a dispatcher in our brokerage department. Pete has now moved into our CSM division. Pete prides himself in helping others with their needs and utilizing his communication and problem solving skills to flourish in his position with Valley. Outside of work Pete enjoys fishing, flying, hunting, woodworking, and spending time with family and friends.

Dean Swanson, CSM

Dean was born and raised in Grand Meadow and a graduate of Grand Meadow High School. He has been in the transportation business for the past 15 years as a business owner and broker. Previous to working here he has been a bar owner, as well as a Minnesota Real Estate Licensed realtor. Dean is a great attribute to our CSM division. In his spare time, Dean enjoys golfing, fishing and biking.

Parker Johnson, CSM

Parker graduated from Mabel-Canton High School in 2008. Parker is a CSM with Valley Transportation and started his career with Valley Transportation in September of 2011. Parker started in the brokerage department and transferred into the role of a CSM. He currently resides in rural Canton, MN with his wife and son. In his free time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, being on the farm, and going on Ranger rides.

Tyler Schiltz, CSM

Tyler grew up in Algona, IA where he graduated from Algona High School. Following high school graduation, he went on to attend Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, IA to obtain a degree in Business Administration and Human Resource Management. He started in transportation in 2008 where he held various customer service roles with Werner Enterprises until 2014. He joined Valley in 2014 and has been in the dispatch area since, serving various roles in the department. Currently, he is the Dispatch Manager and is in charge of overseeing the dispatch department. Tyler also uses his skills to be a key user of our McLeod Software and is a current participant in the Minnesota Trucking Association NEXTLEADER program. Tyler currently resides in Spring Valley, MN and enjoys spending his free time with family and friends. When time allows, he enjoys travelling with his wife to western South Dakota to spend time in the Black Hills and touring Custer State Park.

Dustin Gunhus, Dry Van CSM

Dustin is originally from Cresco, IA and he spent 12 years working as a welder. Following that, he relocated to Elkton, MN, where he spent two years at Pace Dairy as a cheese grader and receiver. Now we welcome him to Valley Transportation as a Van CSM. In his spare time, he obtained his CDL and enjoys motorcycle rides and attending local dirt track races.

Brent Hellickson, Freight Coordinator

Brent has been involved in the transportation industry in about every fashion for 35 years, and has been with Valley since May of 2007. He helps oversee all of our dispatchers and covers for them and our sales staff when they are out of the office. Brent is from Spring Valley, MN, and has been married for 32 years; he has three children and one grandson and one granddaughter. Brent enjoys boating, fishing and just being by the lake.

Zach Myhre, Dispatch Manager

Zach is a Grand Meadow native and started with Valley in 2016 in our wash bay before transitioning to brokerage in 2019, eventually stepping into the role of Customer Service Manager. Zach earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a minor in MIS in 2022, followed by a master's certificate in Sports Management in 2023. After a brief hiatus, Zach has returned to Valley to be part of our CSM team. Outside of work, you'll find him watching sports, playing video games, working out, and snowmobiling in winter.

Lyman Herold, OTR Heavy Haul Driver Manager

Lyman was born and raised in Cresco, IA and graduated in 1998. Went on to work in the tree industry for 15 years before starting in the trucking field. Lyman and his two daughters live in Riceville, IA. When not working Lyman enjoys golfing, volleyball, and any other sports with family and friends.

Jeremy Swanson, OTR Heavy Haul Driver Manager

Jeremy graduated from Stewartville high school and currently resides in Grand Meadow, MN. He has drove truck for ten years and started driving truck for Valley Transportation in 2006. In April of 2011 Jeremy moved away from the truck and came into our office as a dispatcher. When Jeremy is not at work he enjoys riding his motorcycle, traveling, camping and various sports. P.S. He is a Green Bay Packer Fan!

Nick Moyer, OTR Driver Manager

Nick graduated from Mayo High School in Rochester, MN, in 2001. He currently lives in Stewartville, MN, with is wife and two boys. He has worked in the transportation industry for 10+ years as a dispatcher and in brokerage departments. He enjoys spending time with family, fishing and being outdoors in his free time!

Lisa Pederson, OTR Van Division Driver Manager

Lisa grew up near Hollandale, MN. She graduated from Albert Lea High School and then from Winona State University. She began working in transportation in 2013 and worked mainly with reefer freight until coming to Valley. When not at work, she plays the part of super fan to her sons in all of their sporting events and activities, wrangles a zoo of two teenagers, 2 bulldog, a cat and chickens at her home. Lisa is also a Green Bay Packers fan.

Blayne Stejskal, Regional/Local Driver Manager

Blayne was born and raised in Grand Meadow, MN, and is a graduate of Grand Meadow High School. Over the years, Blayne has worked at CHS in Grand Meadow and for local farmers. Prior to joining Valley Transportation, Blayne was employed at the ethanol plant in Preston, MN. Blayne is married and has two children. He enjoys camping with his family and friends, NASCAR racing and living in a farming community.

Robert Hendricks, OTR Driver Manager

Rob lives in Spring Valley, MN, with his girlfriend, daughter, and son! In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, as well as fishing and enjoying the outdoors!

Mark Young, OTR Driver Manager
Quinn Larson, Heavy Haul Permit Coordinator

Quinn was born and raised in Spring Valley, MN where he graduated from Kingsland High School in 2016. Quinn continued his education at SMSU then transferred to Riverland Community College to get his Business Concentrated Degree. Quinn started with Valley in September of 2020 as a Broker. When he isn't at work he likes to be on the lake in the summer, hunting in the fall, snowmobiling in the winter and spending as much time with family and friends in between.

Jared Stejskal, OTR & Regional Permit Coordinator

Jared is from Spring Valley, MN. He is now living in Grand Meadow, MN, with his wife and son. He started at Valley Transportation Service Inc. in November 2013 as a permit coordinator. His day to day tasks include ordering permits for five axle trucks, reviewing permit books, and answering drivers questions. He graduated from Kingsland High School in Spring Valley, MN. In his spare time he enjoys watching Nascar, football and hanging out with family and friends.

Brian Hemmesch, Permit Specialist & Pilot Car Coordinator

Brian lives in Grand Meadow, MN with his wife (Andrea) and Daughter (Kaylee). In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family & friends, fishing, and shooting at the range.

Joey Strike, Brokerage Manager

Joey is from Spring Valley, MN and graduated from Kingsland in 2011. He now lives in Stewartville, MN with his wife and two daughters - with another on the way! He has been at Valley since June of 2015 in the brokerage department and has been the Brokerage Manager since August of 2017. In his time away from work, he coaches football in Stewartville and referees basketball games in the winter. The rest of his time is spent growing his family, as well as being outdoors and taking ranger rides around the country side.

Michael Carr, Broker

Michael is from Albert Lea, MN. He graduated from Albert Lea High School and continued his education at Winona State University where he achieved a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. Michael has worked in retail, management, and marketing prior to coming to Valley Transportation Service as a Broker. He lives in Spring Valley, MN and when not at work he enjoys listening to music, traveling, spending time with family, and watching sports! Thanks for joining the team Michael!

Brandon Scott, Broker

Brandon grew up in the Minneapolis, MN area. He graduated from Eagan High School and Normandale Community College where he received his degree in Business Management. Brandon started at Valley in June of 2016, he left Valley in 2020 for a new adventure, and returned in 2021. Brandon enjoys spending time with family and friends along with going to sporting events, bowling and traveling. Welcome back Brandon!

David Vaughn, Broker

Meet David, a Rose Creek native. When he's not out on the lake reeling in his latest catch, he dedicates his time to maintaining his spotless yard. Beyond his green thumb, David is a passionate advocate for cat adoption. He's the guy who wears many hats - from angler to yard artist to feline friend!

Dustin Mesch, Broker

Dustin grew up in Brownsdale, Minnesota, and is a graduate of Hayfield Secondary in 2015. After high school, Dustin spent four years in the Marine Corps. Most recently before working at Valley, Dustin worked as a Logistics Associate. Outside of work, Dustin enjoys an array of activities, including gaming, fishing, camping, and swimming. He also enjoys spending quality time with friends and family.

Mitchel Baldus, Shop Foreman

Mitchel was born and raised in Grand Meadow, MN. He graduated from Grand Meadow High School in 2008. After high school he worked in construction and farming. He has worked on and off for Valley Transportation since 2005 as a mechanic. He started full time as a parts manager in 2012 and was offered the Shop Foreman position in 2015. In his spare time he enjoys hunting, fishing, snowmobiling out West, and farming with his family. Mitchel is also a volunteer firefighter on Grand Meadow Fire & Rescue.

Andy Grafe, Equipment & Maintenance Support Manager

Andy graduated from Grand Meadow High School. Andy was Valley Transportation's first ever truck driver in 1991 when his career started. He has been involved in the trucking industry for the last 20 years. He started as a mechanic, then onto a driver and now has worked his way into the customer service industry. Andy has a great basis of knowledge to offer Valley and his customers. Andy is a great attribute to this company!

Dennis Groesbeck, Parts Manager

Dennis started at Valley in 2012 as a maintenance technician where he specialized in APU repair. He moved into the Parts Manager position in March 2020. Prior to working at Valley Transportation, Dennis worked at Thermo-King Industries. Dennis keeps an accurate inventory count and is in charge of all of Valley's parts needs. When Dennis is not working, he enjoys working on his small acreage and camping with family, grandkids in specific!

Codey Turner, Parts / Inventory Specialist

Codey graduated from Grand Meadow High School in 2008. Before joining Valley Transportation in January of 2022, he has been a farm hand, welder, mechanic, carpenter, millwright, and a supervisor for a shipping/receiving warehouse. He currently lives in Stewartville with his wife Nicole and three boys Cayden, Liam, and Greyson. He enjoys dirt track racing, camping, snowmobiling, four wheeling and spending quality time with family and friends.

Richie Unverzagt, Fabrication Technician
Shad Bungum, Diesel Technician
Jacob Hershberger, Diesel Technician
Sean Coon, Yard Manager & Wash Bay
Grant Buschmann, Diesel Technician
Larry Stejskal, Waterloo Yard Manager

Larry is responsible for daily operations at our Waterloo drop yard in Waterloo, IA. His day-to-day tasks include loading and unloading miscellaneous equipment from tractor-trailers and keeping an accurate inventory.

Gilbert (Mickey) Vargas, Grounds & Property Manager

Mickey is the all-around maintenance manager. He is responsible for day-to-day maintenance tasks. He has been employed at Valley since August 1997. When Mickey is not at work, he enjoys spending time with his family and helping out at his church.

Ryan Braun, Construction Manager
Jodell Carr, Custodian

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