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Alaska Marine Lines wraps up strong fish season

Posted on Mon, Nov 08, 2021

My Post - 2021-11-01T112738.579"We had a very good seafood year," says Tyler Maurer, Alaska Marine Lines Seafood Sales Manager. The 2021 fish season for Alaska Marine Lines and the supporting Lynden companies has been strong. Alaska salmon runs were 15 percent higher than projected, and the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run stunned scientists with a record 66.1 million fish, with a catch of approximately 40 million which was 90 percent of the record 44 million.

At Lynden, salmon season is an 'all hands on deck' event typically lasting from May through September. All Lynden companies were busy keeping up with the volume this year, prompted not only by larger returns, but by restaurants opening back up after pandemic closures and a change in consumer buying habits.

Each year, Lynden Air Cargo flies fresh fish from Naknek, Emmonak, Cold Bay, Sand Point and Dillingham to Anchorage where Lynden Logistics provides support for transloading to Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska West Express and Lynden Transport and ships seafood with other air carriers all over the world. LTI, Inc. trucks provide Seattle surface delivery support and provides transportation to locations in the Lower 48.

On average, Alaska Marine Lines moves 7,000 containers of fish each year from Alaska fisheries southbound to Seattle. "We moved over 11,000 containers this year," Tyler explains, "and we still have more frozen and canned product to clean out of Alaska for a few more weeks to come."

Alaska Marine Lines moves significant volumes of frozen and canned fish from all over the state departing Western Alaska, Prince William Sound and Southeast. "We also have a new facility in Kodiak and have started to move domestic fish from the island. We use Kodiak as a re-handle port for fish originating in Western Alaska," Tyler says.

To prepare for the push each year, Lynden asks its customers for projections so it can build realistic expectations for staffing and equipment. "We knew this would be a big year," Tyler says. "We just didn't expect it would be this big of a year with all regions having strong returns."

Equipment reliability is extremely important when moving a temperature-controlled, high-value commodity like fish, so reefer techs take on an even more important role during fish season.

"With Copper River Kings selling at $80 per pound to retailers in the Lower 48 states, to start the season, we must have everything in place and running well to deliver the fish in pristine condition," Tyler says. "We are sometimes pushed to the limit in the summer months, but we all get the job done safely. From top to bottom, it's a Lynden-wide group effort, and we all lean on each other to get the job done including our partners at Western Towboat, Bering Marine and Dunlap Towing."

Tags: LTI Inc., Alaska West Express, Lynden Air Cargo, Seafood, Lynden Transport, Alaska, Lynden Logistics, Multi-Modal, AML

Mexico to Prudhoe Bay: Cross-border move beats ice breakup

Posted on Tue, Oct 19, 2021

Equipment moveA recent One Lynden move ensured that an essential piece of equipment for Doyon Drilling's Drill Rig #26 made it to Prudhoe Bay in time for drilling this summer. According to Lynden Transport Corporate Account Manager Jacob Harrison, Doyon Drilling called on Lynden to move three oversized loads from Calexico, CA to the drilling site of Alpine on the North Slope. The challenge was to deliver the cargo before the ice roads became impassable in late April. Delivering the loads to the TOTE ship in Tacoma for the Friday sailing was essential to make the deadline.

Jacob and Lynden Transport's Houston Service Center Manager Terry Smith flew to San Diego to meet Doyon's Bill Walter to coordinate the project. "The day after we arrived, we drove to Mexicali where a representative with National Oilwell Varco (NOV) picked us up and took us across the border. Terry and I measured and inspected the loads while Bill Walter ran some final tests on the equipment with NOV," Jacob says. One load was almost 63 feet long riding on a 53-foot step stretch trailer that was stretched to 76 feet. The other two measured 56 and 57 feet long respectively.

The loads departed Mexicali and arrived in Calexico where Alaska West Express drivers were on standby waiting. Neil Cranford and Robben Finch of Alaska West Express coordinated the inbound trucks for all three loads. Neil, Robben and Jack Morad at Lynden Transport were ready and waiting when the loads arrived in Tacoma. Each load was heat wrapped for the sea voyage to Alaska.

On April 19, the ice road was only open from midnight to noon and closed during the day due to warm weather. Despite the incredible challenges, the loads were delivered via ice road three days later and by the deadline. An additional load of 10 wind walls for the rig was handled by Canadian Lynden Transport, departing Edmonton and arriving at Prudhoe Bay before the other freight arrived.

Once onsite, the three loads of odd-shaped cargo were used to build a pipe skate, a system to deliver pipe from the drill rig's pipe shed to the rig floor.

"We provided updates twice a day to ConocoPhillips Alaska and Doyon Drilling from origin to destination," Jacob explains. "The success of this move can be credited to the operations teams of Alaska West Express, Lynden Transport, Canadian Lynden Transport and Lynden Oilfield Services. The coordinated joint effort is the reason we were able to meet the required delivery date prior to the ice road closure."

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Transport, Alaska, Oversized/Heavy Haul

Everyday Hero Profile: Bayard Folsom

Posted on Thu, Mar 18, 2021

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Bayard Folsom, Driver at Alaska West Express in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Everyday Hero Bayard Folsom
Name: Bayard Folsom

Company: Alaska West Express

Title: Driver

On the job since: 2007

Superpower: Ingenuity

Hometown: Coos Bay, OR

Favorite Movie: Book of Eli

Bucket List Destination: South America

For Fun: Camping, hunting, fishing and four-wheeling

What is a typical day like for you?
Just like everyone else, I get up and go to work. Some days it’s trucking the haul road and other days it’s working on trucks or equipment projects in the shop. I may be driving in Alaska or helping on projects in the Lower 48.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of being part of the team at Alaska West Express since 2007. I am the person they can depend on to run recovery or manage an emergency scene when there are limited resources. I try to be anywhere they need me to be.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I was born in Oregon and grew up in Alaska enjoying camping, fishing and hunting with my parents and younger sister.

What was your first job?
My first job was working as a helper in a local truck/hydraulic shop at age 15.

What would surprise most people about you?
I’ve been told I’m a pretty good cook, and I can sew!

What are you most proud of?
To be able to help when and where I’m needed.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Employees, Everyday Heroes

Lynden companies team up

Posted on Wed, Mar 10, 2021

Tanks loaded onto Alaska West Express equipmentThe combined talents of employees at Alaska Marine Lines, Alaska Marine Trucking and Alaska West Express were behind the successful move of four massive tanks from Seattle to Anderson, AK. According to Anchorage Service Center Manager Alex Clifford, the tanks traveled from Seattle to Whittier via barge, where Erik Scott, Whittier Service Center Manager, and the Alaska Marine Trucking team loaded them to rail cars for the trip to Anchorage.

Upon arrival, they were carefully transferred to Alaska West Express trucks (pictured above) where Drivers Brian Ambrose and Gary Ridall took the last leg – almost 300 miles north – to Clear Air Force Station Base and the radar facility in Anderson. Eric Meade and Malcolm Henry drove the assist trucks to help the loads up the hills due to winter conditions. The two teams worked together to help each other with loading and unloading operations. The four tanks required two transporters for two round trips.

"This project started with Jeff McKenney at Alaska Marine Lines," says Alaska West Express Project Manager Steve Willford. "There was a lot of effort put in by Alaska Marine Lines and Alaska Marine Trucking people getting the tanks to Anchorage so that we could transport to destination. All in all, it was a great One Lynden move."

Tags: Alaska Marine Trucking, Alaska West Express, Lynden Employees, Alaska, Oversized/Heavy Haul, Multi-Modal, AML

Bison bulls relocate to Sitkalidak Island in Alaska with Lynden's help

Posted on Tue, Dec 08, 2020

Buffalo Bulls being loaded for transportEarlier this year the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor, AK was awarded three bison bulls from Yellowstone National Park to improve the genetic diversity of its Sitkalidak Bison Herd. The catch: the bison required transport from Montana to Seattle, from Seattle to Anchorage and from Anchorage to Homer Spit. The final destination required a boat ride to Sitkalidak on Kodiak Island.

"I was informed that on special occasions Lynden Transport may transport livestock," says Cynthia Berns, Vice President of Community Affairs for the Old Harbor Native Corp. "So I called Paul Friese in Anchorage."

Paul Friese, Vice President of Alaska Sales for Lynden Transport, responded to the call with the usual can-do attitude. Gathering all the details, he quickly put the team in motion. Lynden Driver Clay Bonty met the FedEx plane in Anchorage, carefully loaded the special 20-foot container containing the three bison and headed to Homer, AK. "This was a very special project," Paul says. "We were happy to be involved and assist the Alutiiq Tribe."

Buffalo Bulls on landing craft vesselThe container weighed in at 4,500 pounds, plus three bulls at 1,200 pounds each, for a total weight of 8,100 pounds. Once Clay reached Homer, the container was loaded onto a landing craft vessel bound for Sitkalidak Island, pictured right.

The transfer was a historic moment in returning Yellowstone bison to tribal lands. These particular animals are important to tribes because they are the genetically pure descendants of the bison that tribal ancestors lived with. In the case of the Sitkalidak herd, the new bulls will introduce genetic diversity for herd survival. "Our herd is managed to provide food security for our community of 230 residents and tribal members throughout the state," Cynthia explains. "In 2017, DNA testing was conducted on the herd, and it was suggested that we integrate new genes into the herd for long-term health and survival."

The bulls are settled in and doing well. They are outfitted with GPS collars that provide hourly updates on their status. "From trucks, plane and landing craft, these animals have come a long way. A huge thank you to our supporters at Lynden Transport for safely getting the bison to Homer and secured on the vessel for the last leg of their journey."

Five years ago, Lynden was involved in another bison relocation project using Lynden Air Cargo's L-100 cargo plane. Employees spent three days loading 100 wood bison into special containers in Portage, AK for truck transport to Anchorage via Alaska West Express. All 100 animals were loaded in Anchorage and delivered safely in three flights to Shageluk for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Air Cargo, Lynden Transport, Alaska, Charters, Air, Ground, Multi-Modal, Ocean, Community

Lynden companies deliver Clinic in a Can

Posted on Wed, Dec 02, 2020

Clinic in a Can 1200x630Lynden Air Cargo delivered a mobile medical facility, called "Clinic in a Can," to Western Alaska this fall bringing much-needed medical services to the small community of Naknek. Pictured to the right, Clinic in a Can is the brainchild of a doctor who began repurposing 20-foot containers as emergency medical clinics for third-world countries. Ethan Bradford, Lynden Air Cargo's Vice President of Technical Operations, put the project together.

Alaska West Express transported the mobile clinic from Wichita, KS to Tacoma where it moved via ship to Anchorage. Lynden Air Cargo took the last leg to King Salmon's Camai Community Health Center. "Protecting workers, Alaskans and our communities during the fishing season and year-round continues to be an important challenge in our state's COVID response," explains Mary Swain, Executive Director of the Camai Health Center. "We received grant money to purchase the mobile clinic, and we can transport it to wherever it is needed most." The clinic has proven so effective, she has requested two more to serve the region. "This was a good One Lynden door-to-door move from Wichita to Naknek," says Matt Jolly, Vice President of Sales and Pricing for Alaska West Express.

In another recent project, the Lynden companies worked together to transport two oversized turbines, one from Houston, the second from Kenai, to Prudhoe Bay, AK. Lynden Logistics coordinated the transportation, which involved a charter flight on Lynden Air Cargo to Anchorage then truck delivery via Lynden Oilfield Services to two North Slope destinations.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Air Cargo, Alaska, Lynden Logistics, Multi-Modal, Community, Lynden Oilfield Services

How “The Beast” moved from Alberta to the North Slope

Posted on Thu, Jul 23, 2020

Lynden hauling ERD rigRig 26, Doyon Drilling's new extended reach drilling (ERD) rig, completed its 2,400-mile journey from Nisku, Alberta to Alaska's North Slope this past winter. Lynden Transport, Alaska West Express and Lynden Oilfield Services teamed up to haul the 10.5-million-pound rig in pieces from Canada to Deadhorse where it was put back together after more than 320 separate truckloads arrived. Nicknamed "the beast," it is the largest land-based rig in North America and the first ERD rig ever built and moved in North America.

"This was one of the most high-profile projects Lynden has ever done and certainly the largest project that I have been involved in," says Paul Friese, Lynden Transport Vice President of Alaska Sales. "We started talking about this move four years ago, started planning a year ago and began the work in June 2019. In just six months we hauled over 320 loads. Our past work moving Rig 142 for Doyon set a high standard and gave them confidence in the Lynden team to handle this larger project. Many say the future of Alaska rides on the success of this new rig and technology, so we were under intense pressure and scrutiny to make sure the loads were delivered intact and on time for the reassembly in Deadhorse."

Rig 26 will have the capability to directional drill over 35,000 ft. (about 6.3 miles) from a single drilling pad on the North Slope. Doyon Drilling has been working for more than three years to build a larger powerful drilling rig, with increased capabilities greater than any other mobile land-based drilling rig on the continent. The new rig's extended reach can access production zones that were previously inaccessible with current drilling technology and capability.

"We want to thank the Lynden team," says Mike Lasher, Project Manager for Doyon Drilling in Anchorage. "Edmonton's Rick Stark oversaw every shipment loaded in Nisku, and Dan Rychlik helped with pre-planning and shipping requirements. Natasha Earl, Deanna Benson and Darren Stansbury and the Fairbanks team managed loads based on our priorities to ensure we received the right loads in the right sequence."

Rick also served as the Lynden project manager for Rig 142 and was instrumental in providing loading knowledge and experience along with James Delowsky. Rick and James loaded and moved most loads and transported them to the yard for staging and Cratex wrapping.

Doyon 26 Drill RigLynden's Prudhoe Bay crew received and coordinated loads in Deadhorse around the clock to get the rig pieces where they needed to go, and the Edmonton team stepped up their game for the project. "This move impacted everyone from the shop to operations to the front office," says Canadian Lynden Transport General Manager Dan Rychlik. "Employees like Kent Maltais worked weekends; others postponed vacations. We even had to pull people from Calgary to help cover at times. I am extremely proud of the team effort here."

Alaska West Express, led by Steve Willford, planned and supervised the most challenging loads. Alaska West Express drivers and employees handle oversize and overweight loads to and within Alaska for all Lynden companies, and they were essential in delivering the awkward heavy hauls. Roughly 75 percent of the loads hauled were for the rig's subbase which consists of 525 items weighing a total of 1.7 million pounds. The Excel spreadsheet the Lynden team used for the move is a color-coded map of detailed dimensions on handrails, columns, wheel assemblies, platforms and other parts. Mike and other members of Doyon's team were set up on EZ Commerce, Lynden's reporting and tracking system, to help manage the transportation phase of the project and keep track of Lynden loads between Canada and the North Slope.

According to Paul, the heaviest and most unusual loads were the draw works, mud pumps, main beams, and engines for the rig. "When you consider that we had to move more than 300 loads that distance in six months during the winter ice road months with DOT road work and pilot car driver shortages, it's pretty impressive," he says. "We did all this while maintaining our current customer base with no impact to them while we took on this huge project. That is a testament to our dedicated operations team, drivers and mangers. I don't think there is any other company in Alaska that could've pulled this off in such a short time frame. We truly have the best team in the industry and this project proves it."

Watch the video below for a bird's eye view of Rig 26. 

Tags: Alaska West Express, Canada, Lynden Transport, Alaska, Energy, Oversized/Heavy Haul, Project Logistics, Specialized, Lynden Oilfield Services

Lynden Oilfield Services delivers critical freight

Posted on Wed, Jul 08, 2020

My Post - 2021-11-22T131712.696Lynden Oilfield Services equipment crossed tundra-covered public lands in Alaska this winter and spring to deliver critical infrastructure across the North Slope that couldn't wait until this summer's barging season.

Methanol, cement mixer trucks, front-end loaders, sheet steel and fire trucks were included in the remote deliveries. Time was limited as the tundra is closed to travel once the snow depth deteriorates. In the photo below a fire truck destined for the Barrow Airport is towed by a PistenBully pulling a sleigh across the North Slope Borough's Community Winter Access Trail. Air freight and other alternatives were not an option for most of the cargo due to weight and dimensional challenges.

Snow cat towing fire truck on North Slope "This season was the busiest yet for snow road projects, which meant many challenges for our team. With the hard work and innovative thinking of our crew we were able to pull it all off," says John Jansen, General Manager of Lynden Oilfield Services. The team moved more than a million pounds of freight on the North Slope this season using the PistenBully snow cats. These deliveries allowed for more efficient and newer housing in the community of Atqasuk and helped the village of Utqiaġvik repair and replace fuel storage areas. Unlike conventional trucks that move freight on roads with existing right-of-way and permits, the PistenBully snow cats must travel across property owned by a variety of entities at an average speed of 9 mph.

"We have to ask permission and/or obtain permits from all of the land owners before we can begin the work," says Tyler Bones, Director of HSSE for Alaska West Express. "The Lynden Oilfield Services team did an amazing job this year moving the freight that ranged from housing modules to a fire truck. We had a professional group of employees that made the long hours and challenges look easy."

The moves involve cooperation between Lynden companies and Alaska partners like the Bureau of Land Management, North Slope Borough and Alaska Department of Natural Resources. In all, Alaska West Express and Lynden Oilfield Services worked with 10 different local, state, and federal agencies and three native corporations this season.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Alaska, Ground, Specialized, Construction, Lynden Oilfield Services

Lynden HazMat experts conduct training in the most remote location yet

Posted on Wed, Mar 18, 2020

Lynden Training Center's Don WerhonigLynden Training Center's Tyler Bones and Don Werhonig traveled to Sainshand, Mongolia last year to teach HazMat Operations Training to 67 students representing National and Local Emergency Management Agencies (NEMA and LEMA), the Mongolian Railroad and military personnel. The training and exercises were coordinated by the U.S. Army Pacific as a way to coordinate interagency response, humanitarian assistance and improve the Mongolian first responder's ability to conduct response activities. Both Don and Tyler volunteered for the trip supported by Lynden.

"We were asked to be involved in this exercise and exchange because of our experience with transportation, hazardous materials response and training. The State of Alaska's sister country is Mongolia, which is why they reached out to Alaska participants," Tyler explains. The Mongolian Railroad connects Russia and China and hazardous freight is hauled through Mongolia daily. The local fire departments have very limited training on handling a hazardous materials incident, so Tyler and Don prepared them for a potential disaster involving a railroad incident that releases hazardous materials into a community.

The exercise and training was not only attended by U.S. and Mongolian personnel, there were also representatives from Japan, Australia, Kazakhstan and 20 other countries.

"For me, Mongolia drew several parallels to the way we live our lives here in Alaska. The people work hard, have a passion for emergency response, and take their jobs very seriously. I made long term friends while working there."

"They are protecting their communities with minimal equipment, old apparatus and huge hearts," Tyler says. "This training has reminded us that professional emergency responders exist throughout the world." Lynden Training Center is available to provide remote training worldwide, but this was the most remote location ever visited by the trainers.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Training Center, Hazmat, International

Everyday Hero profile: Brett Roberts

Posted on Thu, Feb 20, 2020

Lynden is recognizing employees who make a difference every day on the job and demonstrate our core values, Lynden's very own everyday heroes! Employees are nominated by managers and supervisors from all roles within the Lynden family of companies. Learn more about the people behind your shipment.

Introducing Brett Roberts, Lead Mechanic at Alaska West Express in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Everyday Hero Brett RobertsName: Brett Roberts

Company: Alaska West Express

Title: Lead Mechanic

On the job since: 1989

Superpower: Mechanical Diagnostics

Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

Favorite Movie: Pixar film Cars

Bucket List Destination: New Zealand

For Fun: Fishing, hunting and restoring a 1971 28-foot Uniflight Salty Dog vessel

How did you start your career at Lynden?
One of the drivers from the company I was working for heard about the job at Alaska West Express. I was 24 years old, single and ready for an adventure. I had an aunt and uncle that lived about 40 miles from Fairbanks, so I drove up in my 1977 Dodge pickup and stayed with them. I had always seen pictures of Alaska and said I was going to live there.

I interviewed with Leon Bender on a Friday and started work on Dec. 1, 1989 as a grease monkey servicing trucks. Even though I had two years of diesel mechanic training, I started where they needed me. Just because you know it doesn’t mean you get to do it. My dad was a mechanic and I worked at truck shops since I was 16. I may not be able to remember names, but I can take an engine apart and remember where everything goes!

What is a typical day like for you?
I get to work about 4:30 a.m. I have an 18 mile commute to the shop. No one lives in Fairbanks. It’s a rush minute instead of a rush hour. The vicinity is 100,000 people, but you are talking about an 80-mile circle. I have 2 ½ acres of land and that’s not big.

Lately we have been extremely busy so I have had a six-day work week. We service from 15 to 20 trucks and trailers each day in 11 bays in our shop. They leave in the morning by 7 or 8 a.m., that’s the driver’s goal. It takes them 15 hours to drive up the haul road depending on their load. They take 10 hours off, then drive back 12 hours. Other trucks are headed to the Pogo gold mines or hauling military freight or going to Anchorage.

Our mechanics do a full inspection on each 1,100-mile trip the trucks make up the haul road. We check for broken springs, bad U-joints, broken lights and check the brakes. We do a chassis lube with the power greaser and check the driver’s report for anything electrical or any engine issue. Sometimes the trucks turn quick, other times they are in the shop for two or three days depending on the condition. Trucks take a beating on the haul road (Dalton Highway). It’s different than any other road in the Lower 48. Up here, the frozen, hard ice roads are better than the roads during the spring and summer. Once the thaw starts, you may be chaining up just to get through the mud! Our weather ranges from 100 degrees to 50 below.

I am restoring two heavy duty off-road trucks from Red Dog Mine that will soon be put to use at Prudhoe Bay. They have three axles and we start at the front bumper and work to the back, rebuild motors and wiring and eventually repaint these trucks.

I was already building trannies in high school. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or curse but I have mechanical ability. From bumper to bumper on a truck, I can figure it out or I will learn it. I sometimes do trainings here to teach new employees. I work with 20 other mechanics. With so much going on, it doesn’t matter if you’re fixing a transmission, rebuilding a rear end, swapping a rear end or electrical… I don’t do service very much. I help other guys after they find a problem.

What has been most challenging in your career?
Electronic engines. I’m not a computer guy, but I’ve had to become a computer guy to work on the new engines. The funny thing is my boy is a computer programmer. He writes programs for computers. I don’t even like carrying a cell phone. Alaska West Express sent me to Freightliner electronic computer training in 1994. I muddle through it, but it’s not how I used to do things.

What changes have you seen over the years, either in business, customers or technology?
Electronic engines and brakes are now all ABS. When I started there was no ABS brake systems. Now we have electronic transmissions and all LED lighting. Equipment and parts have improved. From tires to wires, it’s all more reliable and lasts longer. They are making a better product. The trucks are way more dependable than they used to be.

What project(s) are you most proud of?
Getting trucks back on the haul road quickly and safely is probably the biggest thing, but I also went to Hawaii with Jeff McKenney last year to set up a Smit-tipper for a project. This piece of equipment is made up of about 4 trailer loads and was stored in Fairbanks. We had to get it down to Seattle, get it set up and test it before moving it to Hawaii for use with lime to help keep emissions down at a local power plant. I’ve been here so long I was one of only a few people who actually knew how to assemble it and use it. It took us a week on Oahu to get it set up with the auger and all the pieces. It’s 70 feet long when it’s all put together. I was also sent to Bethel, AK for a week to put together and test new Piston Bully snowcats and sleighs.

Can you tell us about your family and growing up years?
I come from a family of five kids. I have an older brother and three younger sisters. Mom is still living in the house where they brought me home from the hospital in South Dakota. After high school I went to technical school in Minnesota for two years and moved to Alaska shortly after. I have been married to my wife Talitha for 13 years and have a grown son Tyler. We also had a foster daughter for eight months in 2011.

What was your first job?
Besides pulling weeds on a farm, my first real job was putting up chain link fences at 13 years old.

What would surprise most people about you?
When I was in vocational school, I dropped a 3208 Caterpillar engine on my right thumb. It cut it right off. I had it sewed back on in Minneapolis, but it didn’t take and it had to come off again. I was 20. This was two weeks before graduation. It was a blow. I still don’t know why it happened to me, but when I went back to the doctor to have the thumb removed a second time, he asked me if I had a job yet. I thought I was going to be out of work. I started applying right away so the day I graduated from vo-tech school I had a job.

When something like that happens, you can’t let it ruin your life. It humbles you and you have to learn to cope. I am ambidextrous so that helped me adapt as a mechanic. I like to say it threw a monkey wrench in my plans, but I got through it.

How do you spend your time outside of work?
I have five snow machines, two four-wheelers, a river boat and a motor home. I like to get out and hunt and fish in the winter. There aren’t too many roads, so I can go 50 miles in one direction and find good areas for hunting moose and caribou with muzzle loaders. My days off are Friday and Saturday so I can leave Thursday night and go out to hunt and fish then leave Saturday when people are just arriving. I also like going down to Valdez and fishing the rivers for pike and salmon.

I have a portable ice shack. I did a lot of ice fishing in South Dakota with my dad. That was his way of unwinding. He caught big fish and could’ve claimed state records, but he never turned anything in because he wanted to keep his fishing areas a secret. He broke the catfish record three times. He couldn’t lie, so he just didn’t say anything.

I also enjoy woodworking and building kitchen cabinets out of mahogany or oak. I’ve built cabinets for my parent’s home and done some restorations. My wife is an event planner so she asks me to make wooden centerpieces and tables for her weddings sometimes.

Last year, I also went to Papua New Guinea to help build a house for a missionary from our church.

What do you like best about your job?
I still get satisfaction when a truck leaves the shop and you know that it is safe and ready for the road and driver. That feels good. I’m here to help the company and make the company better in the end.

Tags: Alaska West Express, Lynden Employees, Everyday Heroes