There’s Always Time for Making New Friends

As both a service and product based business, SJF employees work with many people every day. Not only do we interact with customers, but also with other service vendors. It comes as no surprise that relationships form and fun challenges conspire.

In this case, the folks from DestiNATION Transport and our own Solutions Specialists Justin Erkenbrack, Vance Haugen, and Craig Barnaal, got to discussing golf one day. Through some fun bantering, the guys decided to set up a golf scramble – SJF vs. DestiNATION Transport on Saturday, June 10th at Albion Ridges Golf Course in Annandale, MN.

SJF employees Vance Haugen, Justin Erkenbrack, and Craig Barnaal
SJF Solutions Specialists Vance Haugen, Justin Erkenbrack, and Craig Barnaal

The day began with sun and fun with both teams ready to show off their skills. On the second hole of the day, Craig had an amazing 3rd shot in which he holed out for Eagle from 100 yards away from the green. That gave SJF a lead that stuck for the rest of the day.

Officially, play was suspended before a winner could be determined, but SJF was in the lead when it started to rain cats and dogs! The SJF team was 4 under par with three holes left to play when the rain hit.

Lots of laughs were had and both teams had a blast, even though they all ended up soaked and unable to finish the round. They are hoping to set up another outing this fall for a rematch.

Golfers in action at the "unofficial" SJF vs. Destination Transport Golf Scramble

Guest Post: Effects of Robotics and AI on Business

Today’s post is courtesy of John Hamlin

Artificial Intelligence –

The capacity of robots to mimic or improve human intelligence, reasoning, and experience-based learning is known as artificial intelligence (AI). Although it has long been employed in computer programs, artificial intelligence is now used in various goods and services. For instance, some digital cameras use artificial intelligence algorithms to identify the objects in an image. Experts also anticipate that artificial intelligence will be used in smart energy grids and many more novel applications.

“AI” in the context of business refers to computer-based systems that carry out, improve upon, or revolutionize business operations by emulating human behavior to increase corporate effectiveness or efficiency. AI is a burgeoning technology that has gained acceptance around the world. It is a comprehensive technology used in practically every sector of the economy. It has long been transforming the market in several different ways.

Entirely autonomous vehicles are already a reality. Several other sectors are also using AI. AI, for instance, improves hedge fund investment decisions and assists with forecasting in the financial industry. Predictive analytics (also known as forecasting) utilizes artificial intelligence by employing machine learning and statistical approaches to anticipate future occurrences based on historical data and forecast product sales, client demand, or stock values.

Robotics –

Robots are more accurate and productive than people. Robotics can nearly eliminate mistakes in the medical and industrial fields. As a result, businesses may make significant cost savings and cost-effective adjustments to tasks that could take humans days to accomplish. In addition, robots can produce high-quality items.
Healthcare, agriculture, food preparation, military, and manufacturing are the five significant industries that have vastly implemented robotics.

Developments by Technology for Ecommerce –

Technology continues to push the boundaries of what e-commerce is capable of, from virtual reality and software-as-a-service to artificial intelligence and digital transformation.

Technology is advancing exponentially, so online shops face constant competition from new offerings. You’ll never run out of new and exciting things to do; the hard part is figuring out which chances are ideal for your e-commerce firm. Amazon’s product suggestion engine, popularly known as “Customers who purchased this item also bought,” is a well-known illustration of AI in e-commerce. It suggests items based on the users’ tastes using millions of consumers’ historical purchase information.

How Artificial Intelligence has brought change to the Ecommerce industry –

AI implementation can influence a wide range of organizational business operations. Knowing the elements of artificial intelligence will help you comprehend how AI can affect your company. Data mining, natural language processing, and machine learning are all in the broad definition of artificial intelligence.

  • To develop forecasts, data mining gathers both recent and historical data.
  • The study of natural language processing focuses on how people and computers communicate with one another.
  • Machine learning uses several algorithms to apply prior knowledge or offer examples to address a challenge. Layering algorithms is a critical component of deep learning, which aims to interpret data better.

The development of AI technology has made it a potent tool for increasing sales and streamlining processes. Even a large number of small e-commerce companies are utilizing AI-capable technologies.

How to implement the use of AI in business –

It’s always enticing to adopt cutting-edge technology. However, to avoid wasting a lot of time and money on failed attempts, you should have a plan before introducing a new program.

  1. Develop a plan: You must start somewhere, and your strategy will outline the steps you must follow to get to your AI objective from there.
  2. Use outside expertise: Engage AI specialists on a project- or part-time basis to delve deep and assist you in developing a comprehensive AI roadmap. These other parties may also help establish your minimal viable product.
  3. Create a complete solution: Once satisfied with your team’s creation, it’s time to make the whole solution. Before it behaves as you anticipate, some iterations must still occur.

Benefits of using AI in Ecommerce –

  • More focused marketing and advertising: Deep customization techniques are now possible because of AI and machine learning advances, which analyze vast data from past purchases and other customer interactions to create unique content for each user.
  • Improved client retention: Targeted marketing and advertising communications tailored to the target audience can improve retention.
  • Seamless automation: With automation, a task is completed with the least amount of human involvement. That might entail anything from automating processes or using cutting-edge technology to assist in scheduling hiring emails in a CRM or marketing tool.
  • Effective sales process: By gathering information about your consumers, automating follow-up questions regarding abandoned carts, and more, AI may help you make your sales process more effective.
  • Improved customer service: By using chatbots and virtual assistants, you may appear to offer higher touch customer care.

Joiiio Partners with SJF Material Handling to “LIBERATE YOUR JEEP!”

By Eric Thovson
SJF Material Handling Solutions Specialist

Eric Thovson
SJF Solutions Specialist

Joiiio was born from the minds of Jeep owners. It is their desire to allow Jeep owners the unrestricted joy of Jeep ownership. This meant creating a way to conveniently remove and store hardtops so your Jeep can be liberated during Minnesota summer months.

Joiiio also offers rental and installation of soft tops, half doors, and a dizzying list of aftermarket options for your Jeep. Their trained professionals handle the removal and installation of all tops, doors, and accessories at their climate-controlled facility in Hopkins, MN.

When it came to the layout and design of the facility and how to best use this space for storing tops, Joiiio turned to me, Eric Thovson at SJF Material Handling for expertise in the design of the space.

Ken Zylstra from Joiiio first began working with SJF Material Handling in October of 2021 when the plans for Joiiio began to take shape. A test rack was purchased in October to confirm design plans.

When Joiiio secured a warehouse space in February, the building layout was reviewed and the space was designed to hold the maximum quantity of Jeep hardtops. SJF was able to supply used racking materials, a key cost savings component for a start-up company like Joiiio.

Remodeling of the warehouse began. Once completed, we met at the facility prior to installation to go over plans and confirm elevations of beams levels.

If you are a Jeep enthusiast looking for hardtop storage, be sure to contact Joiiio at or call/text them at (612) 712-JEEP.

If you need help with any racking or warehouse solution, contact Eric Thovson at SJF Material Handling at or directly at (320) 485-4967.

Fork Entry Bars – What they are and Why they’re used

Fork entry bars example
Justin Erkenbrack, Solutions Specialist
Justin Erkenbrack, SJF Solutions Specialist

By Justin Erkenbrack
SJF Material Handling Solutions Specialist

Forklift entry bars are used to keep product supported off the pallet racking itself. They allow the picker to get underneath a pallet, tote or product stored with lift equipment safely and clear of racking obstacles.

An Example of when fork entry bars are useful

A customer is storing metal totes/bins full of couplings. The tote/bin has feet/legs on it and you will be unable to store tote/bin effectively on pallet racking without point loading (not the proper way to utilize pallet racking).

The Fork Entry bar will allow the tote to be stored on the bottom base of the tote/bin rather than the feet/legs of the tote. This offers an evenly distributed load on the fork entry bars that are connected properly to the load beams to ensure all weight is being distributed on the load beams.

Close up of forklift entry bars

Questions about forklift entry bars and their uses

Q: Can I secure the Fork Entry bars to the pallet rack?

A: Yes, we fabricate a tek screw hole for end users to fasten the fork entry bar to the load beam to secure placement.

Q: Can I get different heights? What if I need the fork entry bar to support my product higher than normal?

A: Yes, the most common bar heights are 3”, 4-5/8”, and 6” heights on Fork Entry Bars.

Q: What if I have an uncommon depth of racking or use box beams?

A: Not a problem, we can custom fabricate the fork entry bars to fit your exact needs.

For more information on Fork Entry Bars, contact Justin Erkenbrack at SJF at (320) 485-4962 or email him at He’ll be able to answer any questions you may have on Fork Entry Bars and more!

Saying goodbye to Tom, so… Potluck Anyone?

On Friday, May 27th, SJF had it’s first potluck of the year. As much as we enjoyed the beautiful weather and great food, it was a bittersweet day because it was the last day at SJF for Tom Moore, our friend and co-worker in Sales for over 8 years. Tom and his wife Lori are moving out of the area, ready to start a new journey. We’re all very happy for the Moore family and the adventures that await them, but we will miss Tom and his creative quips that seemed to come out of nowhere.

We also had a special visitor that joined us for the potluck – Mrs. Veronica Sterner, wife of the late Jerry Sterner. Mr. and Mrs. Sterner were the people that started this company over 43 years ago. Without them, there would be no SJF Material Handling.

Here are a few photos of our celebration.

Our Material Handling Experts

SJF’s Solution’s Specialists are available for professional advice and maybe even a joke or two. Give them a call for the best deal on all your material handling needs! Call 320-485-4974, email or visit

Sitting left to right: Eric Thovson, Vance Haugen, Kendal Kalamaha
Standing left to right: Janae Witte, Justin Erkenbrack, Jason Deiter, Tom Moore

Pedro, the Great

Pedro the Chihuahua

Accounting assistant? Security guard? You decide. But we all agree that Pedro is all business at SJF!

Pedro, our visiting chihuahua, is often seen with his sister Beatrice. Both Pedro and Beatrice are part of the Bachel household and are owned by Lori Bachel in Accounting and her family.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, we love that SJF is a pet friendly place to work! #petfriendly #loveourfurbabies

We work hard and Play hard… Tale of Justin’s Massive Crappie

Justin's Big Crappie
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Justin Erkenbrack’s “Catch of a Lifetime”

This last year was a rough one for all of us. Everything was different and we all were left on our own to figure out how to entertain ourselves and our family members safely.

Justin Erkenbrack, SJF Solutions Specialist, had a pretty great weekend of safe entertainment this winter with his fiancé, kids and the wide open ice of a Minnesota lake. Not only did they have a great time, he caught himself a monster!

In Minnesota, we take our fishing seriously. Many people spend half of their life in search of “the big one” (literally, and this is no joke to the serious fishermen!), so to catch this one was a rare moment!

Justin’s 16″ crappie is easily considered “trophy sized” by any fishing expert’s standards (and believe us, there are a lot of self-proclaimed fishing experts around this area). I know this because I fact-checked the info by Googling “What is considered a trophy sized crappie“.

The definition from this highly scientific source, otherwise known as Google, was as follows:

That depends on several things – the body of water you’re fishing, the state in which you fish, how big a crappie you’ve caught before. Speaking in generalities, however, any crappie over 1 1/2 pounds is an exceptional fish, and for most anglers in most waters, a crappie over 2 pounds would be the trophy of a lifetime.

This beast weighed in around 3 lbs. and was caught using a minnow head and a jig given to him by none other than, and I quote from Justin himself, “The legendary fish slayer” and another of SJF’s Solutions Specialists, Tom Moore.

Being true Minnesotans, we were all excited for him and feel he has secured bragging rights for a good long time for this one! Maybe it will give us all something to shoot for next time we take to the lake, whether it be frozen or not.